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Samstag, 22.01.2022
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

I have a lot of fond memories of Baguio throughout my childhood days. My family would frequently visit the summer capital specially during our annual holy week break. Travel during those days was painstakingly long. I remember taking up to 10 hours of driving one way to and from Baguio. By 1997, we have lessened our plans to go to the City of Pines as the traffic around the city started to become unbearable.

Baguio has further deteriorated in recent years due to high number of tourists. Air pollution is already at a critical level, on the level of Beijing, China. Wastewater system is also becoming a problem, as the lack of sewage treatment plants of existing structures have contributed to record breaking coliform level to their rivers and sewer system. Not to mention flooding during heavy downpours. Baguio city have really taken its toll due to the rapid growth and commercialization without a proper master plan.

In comes Mayor Benjamin Magalong. He envisions transforming Baguio into a resilient, sustainable, a Smart city.

It was during the pandemic when I was able to visit Baguio again, this time with a friend from high school. Who introduced me to Mayor Magalong (Not the Baguio with a friend that went viral).

Mayor Benjie graciously hosted us during our overnight stay in Baguio. The next day, he toured us to their command center located at the lower ground level of Baguio Convention Center. And there he began explaining what Baguio smart city is all about.

"I envision Baguio to be a Smart City where electronic methods are to be utilized to manage the city's assets, resources and to provide a more efficient and effective services to the public," said Mayor Magalong.

Being an architect by profession, I thought to myself, why haven't other bigger cities thought of doing this? When they can easily tap to their huge budget to help ease problems, enhance governance and level up the city to make it at par to other cities around the world.

Funding was their biggest problem, as they need an initial budget of P200 million to fund the first phase of Smart City. Luckily for Mayor Magalong, he has the support of the Office the President, who readily gave the thumbs up to fund the initial phase. The Australian government also gave a grant of $660,000 to help support the initiative of Mayor Benjie. Private companies have now contributed to help Baguio realize this ambitious feat.

Mayor Benjie boasts of partnering with Cisco to provide the backbone of their system as it is easily compatible to other Smart City systems. ST Engineering of Singapore helped them create its integrated command and control center.

He says that the initial phase of smart city is to be able to collect and generate data that can be translated to enhance the governance and services of the Baguio City government to the citizens and tourists alike. They will be installing an integrated Smart City platform which includes the command-and-control centre, an integrated communication platform, a video management system with video analytics, computer-aided dispatch and geographical information system and big date analytics for the city of Baguio.

The next phase for Baguio is to have their own micro-weather station so they can have real-time weather forecast and air quality measurement devices. They are now planning a centralized STP to filter wastewater, as well as requiring all new projects to build their own STPs and rainwater collection system to help minimize flooding in the city. A central transport hub is also in the pipeline to discourage private car owners from bringing their own cars to Baguio as they provide convenient hop on-hop off electric buses and trams to further reduce carbon footprint. Mayor Benjie is also an advocate of cycling as he regularly rides his bike and is also his form of exercise while doing his part in making Baguio a greener city.

Smart Baguio in my pocket app is also in place. To help both locals and tourists navigate their way around the city. Ease and contactless transactions with the local government unit (LGU) are also part of the app, as all their dealings with the LGU like business permit renewal and application of building permit among others can now be done with just a touch of your finger.

He may be just starting, but being a man of action, Mayor Benjie plans to complete the whole phase in four years. Given the chance, Baguio will again be the darling of the north especially now that it is only four-hour drive from Metro Manila.

Looking forward to the day that a simple dream can become a reality with the right vision, incorruptible leadership, hair raising goal setting and a winning mindset of Mayor Benjie Magalong. Baguio will finally become a more liveable, cleaner and green city again. In his own words, "making impossible possible."

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Gary Chung

Quelle/Source: The Manila Times, 21.12.2021

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