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Taipei puts smart city development in high gear

Taipei puts smart city development in high gear
Taipei has a number of smart city projects underway including smart housing, smart transportation and e-commerce, as the government tries to transform the capital of Taiwan and takes the lead of promoting smart city on the island.

Taipei City Government says it will put emphasis on smart housing, smart transportation, smart healthcare, smart education and smart finance development.

In regards to smart housing, there are 127 public housing projects – with 19,923 rental units – that are already completed, under construction or in the planning process. The government plans to experiment smart solutions in these residences. For example, smart meters for electricity, water and natural gas measurements will be installed to help residents conserve energy use, Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je said in an interview with Digitimes.

The buildings will also be outfitted with solar energy devices on the roof, while the latest computerized and IoT systems will take central control of lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, security, elevators, etc., said Lin Jou-min, Taipei Commissioner of Urban Development.

The city government is willing to increase the public housing budget by 3-5% in order to implement smart solutions, Ko said.

A budget of NT$95 billion (US$1.1 billion) has been set aside for the social housing project intended to serve the less well-off, according to Taiwan Business TOPICS. With the financial incentive and the city government's backing, there are reportedly businesses and institutions keen to be involved to build related systems and applications.

Elicit ideas from private sector

To help drive the smart city initiative, Taipei city adopts the ‘living lab' approach to draw solution ideas from the private sector. There are over 120 proof of concept (POC) projects being tested in the city and the number is still increasing. Among them are two smart restrooms in a park that can automatically detect toilet paper and soap consumption as well as the level of ammonia, and with IoT-enabled push notifications, maintenance personnel can restock restroom supplies and do the cleaning more spontaneously, reports the Digitimes. Another POC example is using LoRa-enabled smart management system at the Feitsui Reservoir that supplies water for the Taipei City.

The realization of smart city requires investment of time and effort across the government, industry and academia, said the mayor Ko. For the government's part, officials will take classes to learn about the latest technology and science such as AI and blockchain.

Earlier this month at a public event, Ko also announced the ambitious “cashless smart city” vision for Taipei by 2019, so that citizens can buy and sell more freely, as the government promotes broader e-commerce practices.

The plan is to turn the 80,000 civil servants into early adopters first. When e-commerce becomes popular for 13-16% of the population, it will start to take off, Ko said, adding that growth is expected to continue until 2020, and electronic commerce will give Taipei's commerce landscape a new look.

'Go Smart' launch

Still, Taipei appears to have bigger plans. In 2019 the government will launch the Global Organization of Smart Cities (also called Go Smart), which will serve as a platform for idea and data exchange on IoT solutions. Already, 27 cities from around the world, including Malaysia, Argentina, Australia, the U.S., France and UK, have joined the network.

“Taipei wants to be, and is willing to be, the hub of smart city solution providers,” Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin said at the 2018 Smart City Summit & Expo held in March. “Core areas of focus will include transport, buildings, healthcare and education,” he said.

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