Smart Cities in Philippines: A citizen-centric goal
This year, the Global Peace Index of the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) revealed that the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, especially because of its high exposure to natural hazards, such as typhoons, landslides, floods, and droughts, as well as its heavy reliance to its climate-sensitive natural resources. Just like the other smart cities across the globe, the New Clark City—and all the digital transformation initiatives of other cities nationwide—provide an opportunity to make not just Metro Manila but also the entire country more resilient to natural calamities. The need for smarter cities In its simplest essence, ‘smart city’ is all about providing people a better quality of life by improving a cleaner, healthier, and more convenient environment. It integrates information and communication technologies to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation, and utilities to reduce resource consumption, wastage, and overall costs. In the Philippines, where half of the population of over 100 million already reside in urban areas, disaster relief is a relevant pillar in building a smart city. According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA), more tropical cyclones (TCs) are entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) than anywhere else in the world. An average of 20 TCs enters the region per year, with about eight or nine crossing the country. Among the most devastating typhoons that ever landed in the Philippines is Super Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the country with gusts of up to 235 mph. While we are no stranger to strong typhoons, Yolanda’s onslaught left about 6,300 people dead, 28,689 injured, and 1,061 missing. Laying the groundwork Following this devastation, preparedness in the face of weather disturbances appeared to have increased, especially with the pre-evacuation of residents in vulnerable areas that lead to fewer casualties. On the other hand, developing smarter cities is a foremost counter-measure to preparing and withstanding the force of destructive elements.
With the right utilization of smart technologies, the road to Smart Cities in the Philippines is not far ahead. As a citizen-centric goal, it will uplift the economic standards, and create a resilient country that provides shelter as well as better living to Filipinos.