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Samstag, 27.11.2021
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

So-called smart cities have become aspirational for governments around the world and the government has been among them with its 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2017-2021).

Over the past five years, the government has financed "smart city" projects in cities such as Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai where the use of smart technology and the internet of things (IoT) has been applied to improve public services and urban management.

But the outcomes, so far, have been far from impressive.

According to the smart city annual raking for 2021, Bangkok was ranked 77th place, falling from 71st place a year before. Published last week by the Swiss-based Institute of Management Development (IMD) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the index ranks 118 cities around the world.

Singapore claimed first place this year as the world's smartest city for the third time running, followed by Zurich in Switzerland, Oslo in Norway, Taipei in Taiwan, and Lausanne in Switzerland.

Those surveyed for the ranking were asked how satisfied they were with the quality of their city's public services and infrastructure such as transport, healthcare, education, and the quality of housing as well as sentiment towards social cohesion and trust in their government's e-services.

Singapore's achievements are an example for other governments on how to best move forward using technology. Singapore's e-government, as well as the country's education and people-centric-urban development strategy, are reasons why the city ranks so well.

Singapore started its e-government efforts -- for public service improvements and governance transparency -- back in 1980. The effort paid off in 2003 when the country became the first in Asia able to use its public data to launch a contract-tracing system during Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreaks.

As part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singaporean government in October 2020 mandated the use of government-contract tracing apps to suppress the spread of Covid-19. As part of this, the government provided Bluetooth tokens to senior citizens and children who did not have mobile phones.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, our government's digital transformation has not really moved beyond ambition. As part of that, the pandemic confirmed many shortcomings in our e-government efforts and the use of the internet to improve public services. State-funded apps such as Mor Prom only became a liability that upset people about vaccine registration. Contact-tracing apps such as Rao Chana and Covid-19 risk warning apps such as Mor Chana were not very active.

Part of the problem comes from a lack of understanding and not having clear goals. According to the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), the state body overseeing smart city projects, local administrations don't have a solid understanding of what a smart city is. Depa's president Nattapol Nimmapatcharin said that many local administrations asked for budgets to install solar-cell street lights, CCTV, electronic car-park barrier gates, or even a town hall clock so as to make a so-called smart city.

Thailand's low smart-city ranking should be a wake-up call for the government to revise its plans and goals. Firstly it needs to give a clear idea of what a smart city should be like. More importantly, people must be invited to give input about what they want and what they think of smart city ideas. Without real understanding and public participation, cities will never be smart.

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Quelle/Source: Bangkok Post, 04.11.2021

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