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Makati places 6th among world smart cities for innovation

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Makati City has earned the top 6 spot among finalists in the Innovative Idea category of the World Smart Cities Awards held on November 21 (Philippine time) in Barcelona, Spain, where 450 cities from all over the world submitted their entries.

Mayor Abby Binay attended the Smart City Expo World Congress held at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via from November 19 to 21, representing Makati which was the sole Philippine finalist in the global event.  

The mayor presented the city’s technology-driven innovations focusing on mobility, resilience and sustainability, particularly the establishment of a complete mobile command center and use of mobile technology and application to improve disaster response and citizens’ access to emergency assistance from the government.

“Making it to the top 6 of this prestigious award is an affirmation that we are doing something right. I presented Makati City’s programs and innovations to an audience of like-minded people and they were well-received and applauded,” Mayor Abby said.

During the awarding ceremony, the mayor presented Makati’s project entry titled “Use of technology to improve city disaster preparedness and communication to and from city citizens”. The entry highlighted the city’s fully-equipped mobile command center that can be deployed promptly to disaster sites, and the Makatizen app that provides smartphone users a tool to request for assistance with just a click of a button.

Since the Makatizen app was launched in 2017, incident reports to the city’s central command center at City Hall has increased from 150 to 400 incidents per day, subsequently improving response time to emergencies.

The mayor also gave an overview of the Makati Subway project, the first of its kind in the country, which will be built at no cost to the city through a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement. From its construction phase to its full operation, the subway is projected to create 10,000 jobs for city residents. It will also ease traffic congestion and pollution, improve mobility and increase productivity for all stakeholders.

“I feel very proud of what we have accomplished within a short span of time, but the experience was also a big eye-opener for me. We have barely scratched the surface,” she stressed.

“Seeing what other cities are doing made me realize that we have a long, long way to go. There’s so much that we can learn, adapt, and implement in Makati before we can reach our goal of truly being a smart and future-proof city,” she said.

Other competing smart cities included Bonn, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; Pretoria, South Africa;  Dubai, UAE; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Vadodara, India.

During the three-day conference, the mayor actively participated in group discussions and panels. She also took the time to meet with innovators and thought leaders to get valuable insights and advice which can be applied to Makati’s programs and projects.

The mayor said the trip to Barcelona was more fruitful than expected.

“I saw the smart city initiative from a totally new perspective. It is all-encompassing because it affects every aspect of our daily lives. You cannot be a smart city without sustainable mobility; without innovations like AI-assisted parking, or intelligent operations and management systems that make life safer and more convenient for everyone,” Mayor Abby explained.

Mayor Abby also networked and explored potential learning opportunities and partnerships with various companies and organizations. 

She discussed telecommunications and high technology services with Cisco Systems and discussed modern city parking technologies with Cleverciti Systems.  She likewise engaged in learning discussions with the top executives of SWARCO, one of the world’s leading traffic management solution providers. 

She sat down with Cristina Garrido, Director of Innovations and Strategy of Anteverti and Pilar Conesa, CEO of Anteverti and former CIO of Barcelona who initiated its Smart City programs. Anteverti is an independent consulting firm advising cities and companies on adapting to new contexts and facing new challenges through innovation.

The annual Smart City Expo World Congress, which started in 2011, is the meeting point for companies, the public sector, startups, academia, and citizens working together for the sustainable development of cities.

With the theme, “Cities Made of Dreams”, the 2019 congress focused on five main tracks, namely, Digital Transformation, Urban Environment, Mobility, Governance & Finance, and Inclusive & Sharing Cities.

Last September, Mayor Abby was also the sole Filipino presenter at the International Urban Resilience Forum held in Seoul, Korea, co-hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

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