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This year's The Manila Times Model cities and municipalities opened fruitful discussions on the future of the Philippines as a smart city. Each of the keynote speakers provided great insights on creating better smart cities.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr. started the discussion by introducing the government's plans towards digitalization, dynamic innovation ecosystems and enhanced connectivity.

This initiative makes acquiring government documents and paying for them easier. It also allows local government units (LGUs) to respond to problems faster, the main focus being ease of business and disaster resiliency.

For Urban Development Specialist of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank Nathaniel "Dinky" von Einsiedel, the prospects of smart cities can be tempting because of the convenience it offers. However, careful assessment is needed before fully pushing through.

He presented expected challenges that transitioning smart cities may face, such as major structural change and lack of funding. Certain indicators of quality like safety, environment and transportation need to be watched.

Despite these challenges, smart cities are not impossible. Still, it would require close collaboration between the elected officials and the people. It must also be kept in mind that people make up the community, not technology.

P&A Grant Thornton Advisory services partner Christopher Ferareza pointed out that the Philippines' path to sustainability has a long way to go, but like smart cities, it is not impossible. For Ferareza, sustainability is acquired through a harmonious and sustainable blend of tangible physical development and intangible qualities.

Applying the Clearr goals of his company: Collaboration, Leadership, Excellence, Agility, Responsibility and Respect, he says that sustainability can be achieved through proper governance, maintaining order, making the right decisions, and providing essential services that will last until the future.

Lastly, Angkas Chief Executive Officer George Royeca shared the journey of his popular ride-sharing app, from a simple idea to a livelihood-generating platform where the informal sector will benefit.

Through this, he learned that the key to securing the livelihood of those left unemployed is through creating opportunities and taking advantage of technology's aid.

His message is also a word of encouragement for the LGUs present to enact policies that will forge a pathway to new beginnings and unprecedented opportunities for their constituents and the informal sector.

"We build bridges and roads, but let's not forget that we also build dreams," he said.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Khrystyn Andaya

Quelle/Source: The Manila Times, 29.09.2023

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