November 17, 2016, Yokohama, Japan- World Bank’s Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), with a support of the Government of Japan, City of Yokohama, the World Bank’s Smart Cities KSB and Competitive Cities KSB held a one-day international conference on Smart Cities on November 17, 2016. Approximately 200 people from municipal governments, private sectors, academia in addition to participants of Smart Cities Technical Deep Dive (TDD) from Latin America and Caribbean, South Asia, MENA, and Africa region joined the conference.
In the Opening Remarks, Mr. Daniel Levine, Senior Officer of TDLC pointed out, “We are living at the junction of two megatrends which are the acceleration of global urbanization and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revolution, These two megatrends bring us to today’s conference on Smart Cities.”
Today, more than half the global population, nearly 3.6 billion people live in cities, and by 2050, city dwellers will account for more than 70 percent of the world’s population. ICT revolution has ushered significant and irrevocable changes in the way people live, provided connectivity, boosted social prosperity, and given significant impact on the growth and competitiveness of economies and cities alike.
Mr. Rehman Roshan Baig, Minister of Urban Development and Haj of Government of Karnataka, India, stressed in his Key Note Speech, “Smart Cities are expected to be intelligent, social, institutional and economic infrastructure which improves people’s quality of life by prioritizing safety, security, obtaining public services, cost efficient healthcare and quality education. The challenges for the government is not just creating physical infrastructure such as roads, clean water and power, but to create sustainable cities which creates jobs, use resources wisely and also train people.
Sessions started with discussing how smart technologies have made a significant impact on the growth and competitiveness of economies, and how smart technologies enhance the value and quality of infrastructure investments for smart city development. “Smart technologies foster efficiency, innovation and inclusion. They make cities more livable, competitive, inclusive and resilient,” said Mr. Hyoung Gun Wang, Technical Lead for Smart Cities KSB & Senior Economist of the World Bank.
The discussion moved to explore how smart cities tackle their challenges while engaging citizens by using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), open data and other means. The key elements raised for citizen engagement are: a mechanism for citizens to report to government and for the government to react, and incorporating the multitude of opinions already expressed in existing channels.
The importance of public-private sector partnership and connectivity for cities was identified and agreed in the conference, not only for urban service delivery but also for job creation. “I think a thriving city is a well-connected city. In USA, the well-connected cities experienced double growth-rate in jobs compared to less connected cities,” said Mr. Nick O’Donnell, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Asia and Pacific Region of LinkedIn. Panelists discussed how technology can contribute to cities in attracting new firms, upgrading existing firms, and fostering start-ups and entrepreneurship by providing new values such as enhanced connectivity and higher-value job opportunities.
In the last session, panelists reconfirmed that strong commitment and leadership of the government, transparent and continuous monitoring and evaluation of projects are key drivers of a successful smart city initiative.