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Vietnam looking to boost smart city implementation and management

Vietnam has seen a rapid blossoming of its city areas with the urbanisation rate shooting up from 19.6% in 2009 (629 urban areas) to about 39.25 by the beginning of 2020 (835 urban areas in December 2019).

The Vietnam government is paying close attention to developing smart cities. Many agreements have been signed between Vietnam and important partners such as countries and organisations that have successfully developed smart cities, including the Netherlands, South Korea and India. Most recently, an agreement was signed to develop the ASEAN smart urban network.

Domestically, several state-owned entities have forayed into this sector. In fact, by the first quarter of this year, an additional 35 central cities and provinces had signed strategic cooperation agreements with telecom groups on building smart cities. Military telco Viettel has signed cooperation agreements with 24 localities while the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT) have gone ahead with agreements with another 20 localities.

After Vietnam joined ASCN (ASEAN Smart Cities Network) in two years ago, the Vietnam Smart City Development Project (2018-2025) was released with a vision until 2030. The project has three priority areas – programming smart cities, managing smart cities and smart urban utilities.

Minister of Construction, Pham Hong Ha, said Vietnam will implement the tasks and solutions set in the Vietnam Smart City Development project in 2018-2025. These include a legal framework for the development of smart cities as well as management of tools, institutions and mechanisms for cooperation between ministries and branches, between the central and local government, to ensure smart cities throughout the country and avoid waste in using resources.

Using a linked database, many cities in Vietnam had initial success in providing smart utilities in the fields of education, healthcare, transportation, construction environment.  Step-by-step, inclusively, these cities have been optimising urban management, improving the quality of urban residential life and creating opportunities for human development.

Hanoi, for example, is developing a parking system that allows people to find suitable parking places, payment through apps on smartphones and a digital transport map to manage urban traffic.

Driving development towards sustainability, the Bac Ha Noi (Northern Hanoi) Smart City project, covering an area of 272 hectares in Dong Anh district, is expected to improve transport infrastructure, energy, education, healthcare and environment on a digital technology basis,

Meanwhile, HCM City is building a big data infrastructure system, data control centre, security control centre and open data system. It is planning to build smart solutions for healthcare, food safety, education, traffic management and flood control.

Da Nang leads the country in readiness for ICT development and application. Da Nang has been hailed as a leader in applying IT in state agencies. As early as 2018, the Da Nang People’s Committee issued the Overall Architecture of Smart City and Smart City Construction Plan for 2018-2025.

Minister Ha said developing smart cities is in line with international trends, takes full advantage of the achievements of the Industry 4.0 and is in line with the country’s ambitions.

Experts emphasise that lack of reasonable policies will make it difficult for local authorities to seek resources for smart city development, especially capital from the state budget. They believe that Vietnam needs to be cautious when developing smart cities, and not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Central Economic Commission, said it is necessary to have an ‘open and creative’ approach when developing smart cities.

Smart cities should be developed with people in the centre, and be based on specific characteristics of each city. Before applying a development model, each city needs to check its resources and advantages and ascertain where and what it needs for each stage to effectively use existing facilities and investment resources.

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