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Baguio aiming to be the first Smart City in the Philippines

The ongoing pandemic has been a catalyst and accelerator of innovation, especially of the digital type. In the Philippines, this is epitomised by Baguio City as it pushes forward with its goal of building the first Smart City in the country.

Baguio, on the Philippines’ Luzon island, is a mountain town of universities and resorts often referred to as the “City of Pines”. It’s mission: to create a sustainable and enabling environment that will promote economic stability and ensure the general well-being of our citizenry.

“I envision Baguio as a SMART City where various types of electronic methods are used to manage the Summer Capital’s assets, resources and to provide even more efficient and effective services to the public,” said Mayor Magalong.

After several investments in technology for digital governance, crowd density monitoring, and real-time weather prediction, the city has engaged the services of a digital multinational to create its Integrated Command and Control Center. The mayor said he was confident that the international organisation’s participation would help the city realise its goal of digital governance where residents can engage in “contactless” transactions with the government and much more.

Smart Cities are not a vision of the future – they are here and now, and Baguio City is leading this initiative in the Philippines, agreed the Managing Director of the partner organisation, who is excited to help Mayor Magalong and his team realise this vision for not just a smart but a safe and thriving city.

While investments in technology can enhance public services and governance, a true Smart City must have the capability to gather data and use insights to manage assets, resources and services efficiently. The planned Integrated Command and Control Center will serve as Baguio City’s monitoring centre and coordination office all-in-one. It will be operated by a combined force from the CDRRMO, Police, Fire Services, Health and EMS Departments.

Baguio will be installing a holistic and integrated Smart City platform which includes the Command and Control Centre, an Integrated Communication Platform (ICP), a Video Management System (VMS) with Video Analytics, Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Geographical Information System (GIS) and big data analytics for the city of Baguio.

Ultimately, Baguio City will be able to closely monitor and respond to incidents in the community, improving peace, order and safety for its citizens. Baguio City will also be able to better manage and respond to citizen complaints and feedback with the integration of its Smart City app launched earlier this year.

“The shift to being a Smart City is not easy and there are many challenges that we need to overcome, but for country leaders who are determined to enact a vision, this innovation is well within reach,” said Ilagan. “We are excited about the work we are doing with Baguio City and we hope that more cities will take that bold step towards building an inclusive future for the Filipino.”

Baguio’s goals are in line with the country’s digital ambitions. OpenGov Asia reported on the launch of the Philippines Digital Cities 2025 initiative in mid-2020. Under the initiative, 25 digital cities in the were named as the centres of focus for new economic development in the next three years.

The initiative is geared to sustain the rapid growth of the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector and promote countryside development. The IT-BPM sector continues to be a priority for DICT, and it is ready to support and take the lead in making the necessary interventions to ensure that these digital cities achieve their potential, the press release stated.

Digital Cities 2025 will help focal areas promote local participation to strengthen their economies and governance systems in the ‘new normal’, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, noted.

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