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The Philippines to Transform Urban Areas into Smart Cities

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The Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) has inked an agreement with the city administration of Sta. Rosa, Laguna to transform the city into a high-level smart city.

The agreement for the six-month project “Smart City Assessment and Roadmap Development of Santa Rosa City” was signed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Calabarzon. It was suggested that making Sta. Rosa a smart city will further convert the city to be smart and sustainable as an urbanised metropolis. In his keynote speech, DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Pena said, “this initiative will involve the construction of a plan that will lay out the City’s local development agenda rooted on established Smart City indicators and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The initiative would be undertaken by DOST-Calabarzon in collaboration with the Development Academy of the Philippines, according to the DOST Secretary (DAP). This initiative will last six months and will examine Sta. Rosa City’s progress toward becoming a smart city. It will be accompanied by the establishment of a smart city roadmap, which will include a list of actionable smart city solutions and integrated interventions that will lead to the city’s growth and transition into a smart city.

“It will also include urban development strategies using technology solutions that contribute to the pandemic recovery agenda and the “better normal” policy of the national government,” he added.

The DOST-Calabarzon Smart City project with the city of Sta. Rosa, according to DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Sancho A. Mabborang, is a “commendable” endeavour. “I believe this is a significant step forward, and I hope that we can gradually repeat this approach and assist other city governments in adopting a similar framework.”

The benefits of establishing a smart and sustainable city are various: it will boost citizen involvement and collaborative partnerships; it will enable public access to open data; it will provide an integrated, holistic approach to city projects; and it will improve people’s lives. Emelita P. Bagsit, DOST-Calabarzon Regional Director, said the project intends to stimulate the establishment of a smart and sustainable Santa Rosa, which will subsequently be copied and adopted by other communities around the Philippines.

As per the memorandum of understanding, a smart city task force will be formed, followed by a baseline and assessment activity to evaluate the level of smartness of the local government unit. A smart city roadmap will be developed as well, which will serve as the foundation for becoming a high-level smart city.

“I hope that we will be able to continue to develop more programmes and projects that will further strengthen research, technology, and innovation in your areas, so that you can feel and see that science is truly for the people,” Bagsit said.

OpenGov Asia reported, the Philippine government had recently pledged to complete its six smart city projects during the 4th ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) Annual Meeting, which was held virtually, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). While the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis slowed the introduction of smart city projects, the Philippines – through its participating local government units (LGUs) – remains committed to pursuing its smart city initiatives, according to DILG Undersecretary for Local Government, who represented DILG Secretary at the meeting.

During the meeting, the DILG highlighted smart city projects such as the City of Manila’s Command Centre Upgrade and E-government Services, Cebu City’s Bus Rapid Transit System and Digital Traffic System, and Davao City’s Converged Command and Control Centre and Intelligent Transportation and Traffic Systems with Security. During the meeting, DILG Undersecretary for Local Government also stated that the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for local economies to shift to information and communication technology-based solutions to reduce health risks and increase coping capacities.

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