Taipei’s smart city director Dr Chen-Yu Lee explains the city’s unique take on smart development
As technology becomes the foundation of everything society does, governments around the world are in the throes of ambitious development projects seeking to extract as much value as possible from new technologies. In 2016, Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, established a smart city project management office (PMO) to help it realise its smart city vision. A year after it launched, the initiative has been the recipient of an array of awards.
Since its launch, the PMO has hosted over 600 meetings and facilitated the launch of 60 public-private sector initiatives, including programs to use unmanned aerial vehicles to collect water samples from city reservoirs, as well as using small sensors to provide residents with air quality, humidity and temperature data. The scale of its vision huge: it is currently running over 160 test projects covering any and every technology you can think of.
While technology is at the centre of smart city projects, Dr Chen-Yu Lee, director of the PMO cautions that smart city projects should not be distracted by technology, but instead primarily focus on how services can be improved.
Taipei has been recognised for improving many of its public services, including education and sustainability. As part of a project to modernise services in the New Taipei City Library, a 24-hour self-checkout system and e-book display was installed, which displays various publications and provides advisory services.
Despite international recognition, Dr Lee said Taipei is not comparing itself to other cities, although he recognised the city has its own way of doing things. Dr Lee credits its ‘Change Culture’ concept for enabling the project to churn out such a high volume of initiatives.
“We don’t think we are smarter than others, we are just trying to make the city better,” Lee said. “Every city has its own definition of a smart city. In Taipei, for the past three years, the core concept of smart city has been ‘Change Culture’. This means we aim to establish a new mechanism that makes the civil servants of Taipei able to adopt new concepts and new technologies.”