Smart cities share stories of digital governance

Release date May. 29, 2023, 06:03 am EDT
Beijing, China
Smart cities share stories of digital governance
A special booth is built to exhibit experiences and achievements of smart city construction of 13 cities from eight countries at the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2023, which concluded on Sunday. [Hou Chengze / China Daily]

Digital governance is a trend, not a choice, in solving common problems of urban development such as aging populations, and of improving efficiency to benefit people in these changing times, experts said at a recent forum.

Many countries have introduced digital tools like big data and artificial intelligence in the creation of smart cities, and significant achievements have been made in fields such as agriculture, education and industry.

At a smart farm in Palmerston North, New Zealand, AI is used to monitor cows and enables them to roam freely with little human interference.

"There will also be an area with digital monitoring to allow the cow to get its back scratched when it needs, and the milking process has been automated so that cows can be milked when they feel the need to be milked. Minimum human labor is needed," Gabrielle Loga, international relations manager for Palmerston North, told China Daily at the Smart City Forum for International Friendship Cities in Guiyang, Guizhou province, on Friday.

"The application of AI is not only great for production itself but also has boosted tourism, and is particularly popular with children for educational purposes," she said, adding that the city will hopefully collaborate with Guiyang on smart farming soon.

Palmerston North consults residents on public issues, which Loga says generates "thick documents or submissions with lots of words" that traditionally are quite labor-intensive and time-consuming to read through.

"However, since we have been experimenting with large language models, AI has been able to help us go through submissions much faster, so we will be able to encourage more submissions in the future and better understand what our residents want," she said.

The city council has also adopted intelligent environmental monitoring and intelligent monitoring for endangered species, and places importance on green buildings and sustainable construction. As a sister city of Guiyang for the last 31 years, Palmerston North hopes to continue cooperation on agricultural technology, smart learning and digitalization, but is also looking to expand cooperation in other areas such as commerce and ecotourism, according to Loga.

Busan in South Korea, the first smart city approved by the country in 2018, has introduced innovative services like real-time water quality management, smart parking, intelligent medicine and carbon-free applications in its 28,000-square-kilometer Eco City area.

In January last year, 65 families moved into the Eco City to test out the services, and local authorities are smoothing out the problems before the system is expanded to other areas, according to Kim Myogeum, chief representative of the Shanghai office of Busan.

"Busan became a super-aging society in 2022, and there are many old residents who live by themselves. We observe their behavior and condition so help and care can be offered in time," she said, adding that technology is being used to create a healthier and cleaner environment so that residents can live better lives.

Busan ranks first in terms of smart city construction in South Korea, according to Kim.

In Tripolis, Greece, devices have been installed in all public areas to monitor the use of energy.

Through intelligent calculation, resources needed to grow a crop can be determined precisely to avoid excessive use, and with flooding a frequent hazard, the city has developed an alert system to warn inhabitants of danger, Konstantinos Tzoumis, mayor of Tripolis, told the forum at the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2023, which concluded on Sunday.

This year is the first time the expo has resumed in-person events since COVID-19. It's also the first time a special booth has been set up to showcase the achievements of 13 cities in eight countries — Greece, Italy, South Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, secretary-general of United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific Section, said that sharing the experiences of digital governance is important because cities and local governments have a wealth of information on improving productivity and helping people live more comfortably.

"From this forum, we'll learn how cities have been using smart city technology in fields like agriculture, health and education. This inspires other local governments to do better as well," she said.

The organization, which connects 140,000 cities in 140 countries and regions, plans to create a committee for digital governance to help more governments and cities embrace digitalization and sustainable development, she added.


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