Taipei has been workign towards becoming a smart city based on three core concepts: government as a platform, city as a living laboratory, and innovation is the DNA of development, according to mayor Ko Wen-je.
Innovative applications are essential to promoting smart cities, and city governments, due to less understanding than industry players, should function as a platform to provide opportunities and experiment sites for firms to develop and commercialize smart city solutions, Ko said during a recent interview by Digitimes.
Taipei boasts a complete ICT (information and communication technology) infrastructure, well-developed commercial and ICT supply chains, excellent human resources - conditions that are ideal for developing smart city solutions, Ko said. Taipei, as the capital of the country, aims to play a leading role in promoting smart cities and a hub connecting international resources.
Failures allowable, professional knowledge respected
Ko noted that many innovations have failed to achieve their final goals, and therefore smart city developments must be supported by an environment where failures are allowed and professional knowledge is respected, which is necessary to encourage government employees to place their priority on "working smart" rather than "working hard."
China, Singapore, Japan and South Korea are keen to create innovative environments, Ko said government restrictions should be kept at minimal levels.
In terms of professional knowledge, the city will make efforts to educate its officials on science and technology, letting them take classes on the latest development of sciences and technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, big data and others in a bid to realize digital administration.
To help the private sector commercialize in-house-developed solutions, the city provides hardware and software resources, including consulting, counseling and incubation services, financial support and international linkage, for startup teams and businesses, Ko said.
Taipei as living lab
The development of smart cities cannot rely only on efforts by the public sector alone but instead shound depend on an ecosystem combining the efforts of the public and private sectors, including those by academic and research organizations, as well as industrial sectors, Ko said. Taipei aims to play a pilot role providing public resources, such as space for experiments, as a form of collaboration with the private sector to make the city a large living lab where innovators can undertake POC (proof of concept).
There are over 120 ongoing POC projects in Taipei and the number is increasing, he said. For example, there are two smart restrooms in a park featuring automatic detection of toilet paper and soap consumption, ammonia density, and IoT-based real-time notification of management personnel for replenishing the materials and cleaning. The city's Feitsui Reservoir with water area of 1,452 hectares is another POC project: its administration has set up a smart management system using LoRa IoT technology. Other POC projects include smart security surveillance such as tracking of persons and vehicles as well as virtual electronic fences to enable security management.
Smart public housing
There are 127 public housing development projects with a total of 19,923 rental units in the city, with some having been completed and some others undr construction or at the planning stage. The city government aims to experiment smart city solutions in these projects, including installation of smart power, water and natural gas meters and providing smart energy-saving systems as well as smart community security and parking services. The city government is willing to increase the cost of the public housinng projects by 3-5% in order to promote smart city solutions, Ko said.
Mobility as a service
In terms of transportation services, the city government is promoting "mobility as a service" and smart transportation by integrating different transportation systems and services, and encouraging use of mobile e-payment in a bid to reach seamless and door-to-door mobility. For shared transport, there are over 13,000 U-bike rental bicycles available for sharing at 400 roadside stations, 1,000 U-motor rental electric scooters, and 200 power charging piles at 80 public parking lots. In addition, the city government plans to offer U-car rental electric cars for shared use.
Smart medical care, e-payment and education
The city government will cooperate with enterprises to develop smart medical care solutions for use in clinics, home care and hospital administration, with seven municipal hospitals with more than 3,500 wards in total as experiment sites.
Taipei in 2017 launched pay.taipei, a platform for citizens to make online inquiries about utility fees, parking and medical services provided by municipal hospitals, and make e-payment via cooperation.
Taipei will invest NT$1.2 billion (US$39.3 million) to promote smart education, mainly digitized teaching and administration, at its elementary and junior high schools in 2018 and 2019.
Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je
Photo: Shihmin Fu, Digitimes, October 2018