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Many steps have been taken, but there is a problem that is limiting the development of the project.

Technology is now at the forefront of the Macau government’s priorities, but the concept of a smart city, which is now one of the watchwords, appeared for the first time in the Policy Address for 2016.

At that time, then Chief Chui Sai On promised to “initiate studies on a plan for the development of the new era of big data for Macau to become a smart city” together with the idea that “the Government will support public services and sectors of society in the application of new technologies.”

We were at the beginning and the plans were limited: “to create conditions for the provision of electronic services by public to citizens through the identity card of the ‘smart card’ type” was the priority.

This document contained another priority that today we strongly associate with the smart city concept and which was then taking its first steps: smart tourism.

In this context, the Government promised the launch of electronic versions of Macau tourist information in several languages, optimizing mobile applications and the functions of audio-guided tours or the promotion of applications and MGTO identification on various social platforms through the most popular platform on the Internet and mobile applications.

[To be correct, the concept of smart tourism was already included in the Policy Address for 2015, when a “study to implement smart tourism development strategies” was announced.]

Then, in 2017, a decisive step is taken, although a balance of the results obtained in these five years is still lacking: the government signed a strategic agreement with Alibaba Group to benefit from the tech giant’s cloud-computing technologies, helping to upgrade local IT facilities.

The agreement was divided into two phases. The first stage (between 2017 and June 2019), addressed the construction of a local cloud computing data centre and helped the authorities to launch projects of big data services to accelerate the city’s development in areas of tourism, transportation management, healthcare service, urban management and training of information technology (IT) professionals. The second phase (between July 2019 and June 2021) foresaw to continue optimising the IT infrastructure in the city and to launch projects in the fields of environmental protection, customs clearance procedure, and economic forecast.

From that moment on, residents began to experience changes as a result of the adoption of these new technologies.

An example is the Bus Traveling System app from the Transport Bureau, which allows users to accurately understand how buses operate and schedule. The app also allows you to see in real time the impact of works on the streets or even if the next bus is full.

“The app of transportation management is one of good contributions in smart city,” stated Alfred Wong, Associate Professor of Electromechanical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Macau.

“Macau residents can easily know the information about bus situation, parking situation, road conditions, and so on. This is very useful to enhance the quality of life for residents. Tourist can get the travelling information such as crowd density, travel planning through government app. The travelling experience can also be enhanced through AR technology,” added Professor Wong.

“In the future, government hopes to develop Metaverse for smart tourism. Smart medical treatment has the basic development in information sharing with different hospitals. However, it is necessary to furthermore developing smart technology in this area,” advises the also Research Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, interviewed by Macau Business.

According to Professor Wong, “Macau is already a smart city in government, tourism, transportation, and medical treatment direction. Although it cannot be the top level in the world, however, it can be middle level or above. Actually, Macau is better than many developed cities and countries.”

However, the Associate Professor of Electromechanical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology pointed out, “it is necessary to have breakthrough the bottleneck of the privacy law [see text on these pages]. Moreover, government is necessary to accept the new concept and idea. Meanwhile, they need to cooperate with the private companies not doing the smart city by themselves. Overall performance is acceptable.”

The privacy law

“The bottleneck of smart city development of Macau is the privacy law,” according to Professor Wong.

Although “Macau’s privacy law is quite complete,” the expert explained, “however, it is necessary to further improving for smart city development. Otherwise, it is hard to collect and share the data. Moreover, it is hard to develop the application of smart city.”

Up to now Macau’s smart city development “is focused on digitising services not intelligent solutions. It is recommended to collect the big data for providing the smart medical treatment solutions such as prediction of disease, long distance operation, and so on,” detailed Professor Wong, who gave another example, about smart transportation: “if the transportation data can be applied to develop smart city planning, that will be much better.”

Another: “different hospitals in Macau cannot directly exchange the client health information because the privacy law requires the data only using in one unit or department. Finally, the so called smart hospital information exchange is only used to the end user’s Macau One Account to show the information to doctors not directly sharing to hospitals.”

Another areas, like the smart tourism, are “looking forward to providing smart strategies for enterprise development such as adding value for their services.”

“Making data becomes more intelligent, that is the further development for Macau’ smart city,” highlighted Alfred Wong. “Macau’s privacy law limits the data collection, exchange, and application.”

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Autor(en)/Author(s): João Paulo Meneses

Quelle/Source: Macau Business, Feb. 2023

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