VN eye development of smart cities

Thursday, Sep 03, 2020 16:38

A view of HCM City, Viet Nam's largest financial and economic centre. — VNA Photo

Smart cities hold the answer to modern world's problems including rising population, pollution, traffic congestion, climate change and even global-scale disaster such as the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, claimed experts.

Nearly 50 per cent of ASEAN's population are living in urban areas. In a forecast by the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), a collaborative platform which aims to synergise Smart city development efforts across ASEAN by facilitating cooperation on smart city development, there will be 90 million people living in cities across the region.

According to ASCN, those cities, with population typically ranging from 200,000 to 2 million will be a major driving force, accounting for as much as 40 per cent of economic growth, for ASEAN countries.

However, rapid urbanisation has been associated with a number of challenges such as traffic congestion and accidents, especially in large cities, which caused the region to lose out from 2-5 per cent GDP growth annually. In addition, other pressing issues for large cities included worsening air and water quality, inadequate waste management, rising poverty and crime rate.

IT infrastructure development

Countries should look in the applications of information technology (IT) for solutions, said Dr Pham Khanh Toan, head of the department of international co-operation under the Ministry of Construction (MoC)

Toan said IT and telecommunication infrastructure play a key role as cities seek to meet such challenges. ASEAN countries may also learn valuable lessons in developing smart cities from more advanced economies.

Dr Dao Thi Nhu from MoC's urban development department said ASEAN's smart cities should develop a platform to co-operate and share experience in city development with a focus on sustainability. Viet Nam is building three of the first 26 smart cities in the region: Ha Noi, HCM City and Da Nang City.

Nhu said the cities' objectives include increased living standards, building competitive economies and achieving environmental sustainability.

In August 2018, the Prime Minister Office approved a project to develop smart cities in Viet Nam for the period 2018-25 with a vision to 2030 (Government Decree 950/QD-TTg) in which the government identified three pillars of smart city building: planning, management and utilities.

Accordingly, Ha Noi, HCM City and Da Nang City have seen the development of public infrastructure to provide residents services in the areas of education, health care, transportation, construction and environmental protection.

For example, more than 1,500 administrative procedures have been made available online in the capital city of Ha Noi. The city has also rolled out an online health care management system for nearly one million residents. Over 2,700 schools and universities in the city have implemented online communication channels between teachers and parents.

Notably, HCM City has been planning to establish Thu Duc City, a city made up of areas currently span District 2, District 9 and Thu Duc District. The new city has been earmarked to become a financial hub and a research and development centre that may account for a third of HCM City's economic output or seven per cent of the country's, said the city's Party leader Nguyen Thien Nhan.

Meanwhile, the city has been building itself as a financial centre in the region with an immediate goal to start providing financial services for neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. There are currently more than 2,100 banking and credit institutions in the city, the highest within the country. Last year, HCM City accounted for nearly a quarter of the country's capital raise with the HCM City Stock Market Exchange made up 95 per cent of total market capitalisation and over 54 per cent of Viet Nam's GDP. — VNS

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