On Christmas Day of 2014, Taiwan lost a county and gained a city, when the county of Taoyuan changed to municipal status. Its proximity to the Taipei Metropolitan Area has led to major investments in such public utilities as Taiwan’s largest international airport and the 2017 Taoyuan MRT Airport Line, which speeds connections between the city’s high-speed rail station and the airport. These, in turn, have driven rapid development in Taoyuan City, which has attracted a large number of new residents from other cities and countries.
Taoyuan is the largest industrial science and technology city in Taiwan. More than one-third of Taiwan’s top 500 manufacturing industries have set up factories in Taoyuan. The industrial output value of about 2.87 trillion NTD has led all Taiwanese cities for 14 consecutive years. The population is a fusion of many ethnic groups such as Minnan, Hakka and Aboriginal people. Because of the industrial development, Taoyuan is also the municipality with the largest number of foreign workers from Southeast Asia and the largest number of Vietnamese new residents.
Broadband Services for All
Taoyuan initiated the i-Taoyuan Free Wi-Fi 2.0 project in 2016 to optimize the city’s existing wireless network services and expand the city’s free network environment of hotspots. As of 2019, the project has established 5,000 free wireless hotspots throughout the city with plans in place to expand four high-traffic areas into hot zones with wider coverage. Chunghwa Telecom has set up its own network of 5,236 CHT Wi-Fi hotspots with 400 access points as well, distributed in all public areas for use by the general populace. In addition to setting up hotspots, Taoyuan has worked with local providers Taoyuan City Telefirst Cable Communication Co., Ltd., North Taoyuan Cable TV Co., Ltd. and South Taoyuan Cable TV Co., Ltd. to ensure that broadband service is available across the entire city.
With Internet access available so widely in the city, Taoyuan has developed the Smart District and Village System. The system connects 13 districts and 495 villages and neighborhoods in Taoyuan City with the city’s many government departments, allowing citizens to access up-to-date transit information and providing local businesses with an online platform to offer their mobile services. Taoyuan is also introducing smart parking and location systems to car parks in those districts and has deployed a dynamic information system for the city’s buses. Taoyuan Metro now provides free 4G and WiFi coverage and smart services as well.
Taoyuan is also currently working on an Internet of Things demonstration site for Taiwan. Asia Pacific Telecom has established 90 LoRa hotspots in the city to support Taiwan’s first Internet of Things dual network. The network is expected to cover all of Taiwan in the near future.
Youth Entrepreneurship in Qingpu
To further develop its youth talent, Taoyuan has created the Youth Entrepreneurship Headquarters in Qingpu. The Headquarters hosts a series of innovation- and entrepreneurship-themed courses for local youth as well as courses in the application of technology in new industry. As of 2016, the Headquarters has reached 441 members, 933 stationed members, and 17 teams of instructors.
The Taoyuan city government has established another entrepreneurship headquarters in the Taoyuan Youth Commander, which is the city’s first co-working maker space. As a startup hub, the Taoyuan Youth Commander provides clients with professional consultation and other services to help new ventures get off the ground and learn the fundamentals of business and marketing. The maker space also aids entrepreneurs in finding partners for their projects both within Taiwan and overseas. As of 2017, Taoyuan has planned an additional three national-level bases for young entrepreneurs: Hotuoshan IoT New Venture Hub, Chung Yuan Entrepreneurship Village and Young Maker Co-working Park.
The city has also partnered with local colleges to add more entrepreneurial courses. National Central University in Taoyuan has established the Foreign Language Talent and Smart Industry Incubation Center to connect local students with international students and entrepreneurs.
Creating an Innovation Hub
With its location between Taipei and Hsinchu, Taoyuan is perfectly placed to be an innovation and business hub in Taiwan. The city is home to the largest cluster of logistics companies in Taiwan, including many supermarkets, hypermarkets, retailers and fresh food suppliers. To provide broader logistical support to new industries, Taoyuan has developed the Taoyuan Aerotropolis and has established the only airport free trade zone in Taiwan. The city has also created an Innovation and R&D Centre to provide further resources and services to new and established companies.
Connecting all of these developments to the rest of Taiwan is essential for the innovation hub. The Taoyuan city government has established a comprehensive network of buses in the city with a total of 261 routes, many of which now sport dynamic information systems that provide useful data to travelers. In addition to the bus system, Taoyuan is connected to Taipei and Hsinchu via high speed rail, MRT, highways and the Taoyuan International Airport MRT. The city has outfitted all of these routs with 4G wireless coverage to allow travelers to work, research or relax while in transit.
Providing Knowledge and Access to Services through the Citizen Identity Card
Taoyuan launched a citizen identity card called the Taoyuan City Card in 2015 as a means of connecting its residents with a wide variety of public services and information. The card is integrated with many of the city’s transportation systems, serving as a ticket for busses, MRT, the Taiwan Railway, and even as a means to rent a bicycle. It may also be used to pay parking and most other government fees, as a municipal library card and even as a meeting attendance card for citizens to better keep track of their schedules.
In addition to city services, the Taoyuan City Card also provides citizens with discounts at over 700 stores offering hospitality and tourism services as well as local sports and fitness centers, youth centers and public halls and the Taoyuan Municipal Swimming Pool. The card is linked to a holder’s sports history for the sake of providing doctors with additional information during medical exams, and the city plans to integrate with cards with the national health insurance system in the future to provide citizens with easy access to their medical records in the future.
Taoyuan has issued roughly 1 million cards to citizens as of 2019. The cards grant discounts in more than 1,000 locations, including 742 stores participating in the program. In the future, the city plans to expand services to include banking, mobile payment services, telecommunication, and electronic tickets.
Alternative Energy in Taoyuan
To build a sustainable future, Taoyuan City has been heavily investing in solar energy. The city leases roof space of public houses to establish solar generation systems, with 132 government-owned buildings outfitted as of 2017, generating a total of 12 million kwh of electricity annually. With the assistance of the Tatung Company, Taoyuan will be building 200 public housing developments with solar generation capacity, aiming to produce 20 million kwh of electricity per year.
The city is working with businesses to improve solar energy production as well. The Department of Environmental Projects in Taoyuan has introduced an energy service company to provide free installation of solar generation equipment on the rooftops of factories as well as public housing.
In addition to solar energy, Taoyuan is also focusing on wind power generation. Since 2011, 57 wind power plants have been installed in Guanyin and Luzhu. The city is also planning a number of offshore wind plants in the coming years.
By nourishing local innovation, attracting international entrepreneurs, and building an ever-growing infrastructure for clean energy production, Taoyuan is preparing its people, organizations and environment for global competition.
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Taoyuan City was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2019
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Taitung is Taiwan’s third-largest county by area and home to 224,000 people. Spread across the mountainous southeast coast of the island, it was a thinly-populated economic backwater through most of the 20th Century, while the northwest coastal plains became the center of Taiwan’s remarkable economic rise. Agriculture and tourism are its dominant industries. Because it was the last region of Taiwan settled by the Han Chinese in the 19th Century, it has also retained much aboriginal culture, which makes its own contribution to tourism.
Like most isolated rural regions, the county was underserved by broadband – until county government engaged in a major drive to deploy wireless infrastructure. Through negotiation, persuasion and investment, the county accomplished what seemed impossible: deployment of 250 hotspots in just over four months to achieve 100% availability for residents and businesses. County leaders recognized, however, that deployment was only the beginning. It set up a major public education program and a 24-hour hotline to help people get online. The effort succeeded: calls to the hotline gradually declined from 200 per month to single digits and public satisfaction reached nearly 80% in a 2015 survey. By September 2015, there were more than 100,000 subscribers to the “TT-Free” service in a county with a population of only 224,000. Vision Magazine placed Taitung County at the top of its list of counties for “smart infrastructure.”
Boosting Local Industry
The county was quick to put the network to use for economic development. It created a Smart Travel Service Plan that aggregated its own data with third-party services like TripAdvisor in a single mobile portal available on the app stores in multiple languages. It also helped six major tourist sites to install systems that generate constantly updated guide maps and navigation tips that can be pushed to the phones of tourists. One of the county’s biggest events is a hot air balloon festival, which attracted 350,000 tourists in 2011. Just one year later, attendance jumped to 830,000. The major tour sites of Taitung received six million visitors in 2013, up 44% from 2009. While the number of hotels grew, the average occupancy rate also leaped to third in the nation. Developments like these caused the outflow of population from the county to reverse for the first time in years in 2014.
The county also has a long cultural and industry legacy in woodworking. Working with industry, universities, researchers and the national government, it is now planning a Maker Park to help entrepreneurs apply technology to launch innovative woodworking businesses.
New Model for Service Delivery
The network also helps Taitung County better serve residents and businesses. There was once only one county office, located in the city of Taitung, to which many residents had to travel long distances. Through the network, the county has made available more than 200 services online and provides access at 15 township offices. County staff even go to the homes of elderly and disabled residents with tablets to deliver services and information. During typhoon season, prevailing winds blow from the south, which puts Taitung County on the front lines. To help with disaster preparation, the county has created a real-time decision support system that mines data on past typhoons to help predict where incoming storms will have the greatest impact, so that emergency resources can be pre-positioned where they will do the most good.
The county’s experience illustrates vividly how rural areas can use broadband and information technology to overcome the traditional barriers of distance and isolation and find new economic relevance in the broadband economy.
Smart21 2015 | 2016
Taipei is no stranger to technology-based development. This city of 2.6 million people is the world's largest producer of laptop and notebook computers and computer motherboards. The Taipei Technology Corridor consists of two major science and technology parks, with a third one in development, that currently employ more than 85,000 knowledge workers in 2,200 companies with combined annual revenues in 2004 of nearly US$53 billion. Taipei is also one of the world's top three cities for broadband deployment, with PCs in 88% of homes and 77% of households connected to ADSL service. Where hardware and infrastructure is concerned, Taipei is justly proud of being a global leader.
For Taipei, the challenge of the 21st Century is to run faster in a fast world. It is to maintain and increase its competitive edge while preparing for a demanding future. As Taipei Metropolitan Government wrote in its application to ICF, "In the past Taipei tended to follow examples from developed countries. Now, Taipei is looking for its own paradigm and value."
Taipei's development as an Intelligent Community began with the election of Mayor Ying-jeou Ma in 1998. Mayor Ma challenged Taipei to become what he called a CyberCity. The first phase of the project (1999-2002) focused on building broadband infrastructure and using the Internet to improve public services. The city invested an average of US$75 million per year to install PCs on the desks of all employees at leading government agencies, deploy a city-wide electronic document system that saved US$7.5 million per year, and create hundreds of online applications ranging from requests for service to complaints about parking violations. An e-schools effort placed at least one PC with broadband connectivity in every classroom, created computer labs in 250 schools and trained teachers in PC and Internet skills. An e-communities project provided free PC and Internet training to 240,000 people and established 800 public Internet kiosks throughout the city. An online Intelligent Transportation System was developed to monitor traffic flow, guide drivers to available parking and improve taxi safety, and an EasyCard multi-function pass for Taipei's Mass Rapid Transit System attracted new riders. To date, the system has issued over 5.7 million cards.
Phase Two Brings Second Top7 Ranking
For these efforts, Taipei was named one of ICF's Top Seven Intelligent Communities of 2003. In 2006, ICF recognizes Taipei for taking its CyberCity program to the next level by making broadband connectivity an essential component of life for its citizens and businesses, and using it to transform the economy of the city.
The second phase of the CyberCity program (2003-2006) has focused on several priorities. The first was to better integrate broadband and online services into citizens' lives. By May 2005, 84% of the government's total document traffic was moving through its electronic document exchange. Its Internet portal was offering over 400 services used by an average of 3,500 citizens per day, and over 5,200 small-to-midsize companies had created Web sites on a free Taipei Business Net portal. In the longer term, Taipei aims to encourage development of better Chinese computer interfaces and expand content and applications suited to Chinese tradition. These advances will not only foster broadband use by citizens but will provide an opportunity for Taipei's companies to more easily access business opportunities in greater China.
A second priority was to shorten the time and resources needed to turn students into productive knowledge workers. The most crucial challenge faced by Taipei's companies is the "last mile" between school and industry. To that end, every four years, over US$93 million is earmarked to fund IT education in Taipei. IT skills are widely taught in elementary schools, high schools and universities as well as business incubators. Microsoft selected Taipei as the world's first location for its Future School Program. Cisco is implementing its Network Academy in Taiwan, which has attracted participation from 79 Taiwanese companies and provided training to 16,000 students. The government has also created Taipei e-University to provide online training in academic theory and hands-on practice, leading to professional certification.
The third priority was to provide an IT-based platform for innovation. In the CyberCity program's second phase, the government deployed a municipal wireless network to mass transit stations and all elementary and middle school campuses, where each class was equipped with its own Web site to facilitate teacher-student communications. Plans call for extending the network to 90% of the city.
The fourth priority was to use broadband to ensure digital equality. With the encouragement of the government, nonprofit organizations have established 13 community universities that have offered technology and other classes to nearly 220,000 people. Internet kiosks were established at 800 convenience stores and other locations to give citizens access to online services. An e-healthcare initiative has integrated the data systems of 300 municipal hospitals and clinics and provides safety monitoring of elderly and disabled citizens via wristbands.
On New Year's Eve 2004, Mayor Ma and Taiwan's President Chen Shui-ban led the celebration of the opening of Taipei 101, the world's tallest skyscraper and one of the most technologically advanced buildings on earth. It was a fitting symbol for this city of almost limitless ambition, which aims to number among the select few leaders of the Broadband Economy.
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Labor Force: 1,183,000
Intelligent Community of the Year 2006
Top7 2004 | 2006
When the city and county of Taichung merged in 2010, it created a huge metropolis uniting completely different economies: a major seaport city where 70% of employees work in services, and a rural county where 50% work in industry and agriculture is a significant source of income.
The city’s leadership, under Mayor Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, was determined to create a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
The city and telecom companies partnered to create thousands of WiFi hotspots, fiber-based broadband and 4G WiMAX now reaching more than 90% of the population. Through imaginative applications developed by public-private partnership, ICT has become a driver of greater global competitiveness.
The backbone of Taichung’s manufacturing economy is a network of 1,500 precision machinery makers and tens of thousands of SME suppliers. Smaller companies now benefit from a shared, cloud-based ERP system that reduces their purchasing costs and time-to-market. An RFID system at the port automates the clearing of shipping containers for exit, slashing the time trucks spend idling at the gate.
Taichung is also helping farmers apply ICT to improve yields and profitability while expanding their international markets.
To power this new economy, the city and its 17 colleges have created a truly lifelong learning system ranging from basic digital education and vocational training to advanced study and continuous skills improvement. And Taichung is aggressively pursuing industrial clustering through development of the Central Taiwan Technology Corridor combining science parks, precision manufacturing parks and software parks to give physical shape to its global ambitions.
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Read the latest updates about Taichung City.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2013
Smart21 2012 | 2013
Top7 2012 | 2013
People have lived along the Tamsui River in what is now New Taipei City (NTC) for 5,000 years, yet the city is only four years old. It was created in 2010 from the county surrounding Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei, and its founding Mayor Eric Chu set out to transform a loose collection of suburban cities and rural land into a unified metropolis.
NTC had been shaped by its relationship with Taipei: it was a residential district and location for traditional and often highly polluting industries, and its transport network was oriented to move people and goods into and out of the capital. Many of those industries, like ceramics and glass-making, had been under severe competitive pressure for decades from China and lower-cost countries. NTC faced the need to develop a knowledge-based economy to power its future.
The Future is Broadband
Massive investment went into high-speed roads and rails to unite the doughnut-shaped city, but the real focus has been on broadband. Partnering with the private sector, NTC has boosted network deployment and promoted cloud-based services for government and business. The household penetration rate is at 91% with 87% on 100 Mbps service. With education the single largest budget line, NTC has connected more than 300 schools, put tablets and computers into classrooms and retrained teaching staffs. Taking advantage of the density of convenience stores, NTC has facilitated the installation of more than 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
Still, one million citizens are on the wrong side of the digital divide. To help them, the city offers training classes, mobile computer classrooms and Digital Opportunity Centers where visitors can try the latest technologies. More than 420,000 people have received digital inclusion services and household computer ownership has grown from 89% to 92% over five years.
Knowledge Drives Growth
The city applies digital technology to reimagine the delivery of services to citizens. The city’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission has introduced a system called Hot Spots Analysis. It draws on posts to the city’s Web portals, the logs of the emergency response center, and traffic on social networks to identify issues raised frequently by citizens that are not being properly addressed. Monthly meetings of the heads of all city departments review known and new Hot Spots and determine what actions the city should take to solve them. Going one step beyond, the decision-makers examine why the problem was not being addressed: whether a single agency was at fault or the issue was one that crossed over the boundaries of multiple agencies. Each Hot Spot is developed as a case, from identification of the problem to solution to the lessons learned, and each case becomes an online reference document accessible to both government officials and citizens.
In one example, citizens repeatedly flagged a problem on express buses bringing commuters into the city: the lack of enough capacity to handle rush hour passenger traffic. Investigating the issue, the city found that its own regulations prevented the buses from loading more passengers than they had seats for when the buses would be traveling on freeways at high speed. The city was unwilling to relax this safety regulation, so it instead negotiated with the bus companies to offer a different service: shuttle buses operating on routes that connected outlying areas to train stations. This encouraged more passengers to take the train, which in turn reduced rush-hour wait times on the express bus routes from an average of 20 minutes down to less than 10.
The city also noted a high level of complaints from its indigenous citizens about receiving education subsidies for their children on time. It did not take long to identify the responsible agency. The Commission ordered the agency to standardize its processes, eliminate unnecessary paperwork and establish deadlines for turnaround. Processing time quickly dropped from an average of 35 days to only 15 days.
New and Renewed Economy
Executives and employees are an equal focus. A Knowledge-Bridge project has driven industry-university collaboration projects and provided talent and job matchmaking. It is credited with lowering the unemployment rate by a full percentage point. NTC has identified seven strategic industries – from green tech and bio tech to optoelectronics and culture – for development, and its SME Service Group offers counseling, support for business development and R&D subsidies. Just three of NTC’s business parks, each focused on a different industry cluster, have attracted US$1.5 billion in investment, added US$2.5 bn in economic value and created 22,400 jobs. In the Xizhi District, a cloud-computing development called U-Town has attracted 2,300 businesses, created 80,000 jobs and generated more than US $30 billion in economic activity.
Even traditional industries have found new life. Factories that once manufactured commodity ceramics and glassware are now producing art pieces that are marketed globally by city government. What was once a modest cultural event in the mountainous district of Pinxi is now the Sky Lantern Festival that has been rated one of the 14 must-see cultural events in the world. Meanwhile, NTC has moved hundreds of public services into the cloud to break the constraints of bureaucracy and realize the Mayor’s vision of “One Government” where dozens once operated.
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Read the latest updates about New Taipei City.
Smart21 2012 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016
Top7 2014 | 2015 | 2016
After absorbing its surrounding county in 2010, Kaohsiung became the largest municipality by area in Taiwan, with a population of 2.77 million. It is a major international port in the southwest of the country, serving the rich agricultural interior of southern Taiwan. Its waterfront industrial parks house steel mills, shipyards, petrochemical and refinery complexes, cement works, fertilizer factories and papermaking plants. The city is also home to eleven universities and colleges as well as eight military academies.
From Education to Employment
In the new century, Kaohsiung’s leaders have focused on increasing the city’s global competitiveness. One challenge is to ease the path for graduates into local employment to preserve Kaohsiung’s investment in its youth. In a Metropolitan Cultivation Project, the city has created incubation bases within schools, with the staff and equipment needed to give students marketable skills. It engages secondary schools, technical schools and universities in creating cooperative strategies and incentives for student advancement. The Economic Development Bureau trains teachers in the latest trends in local industries, while working with industry to develop internships focused on high-demand occupations. Today, twelve high schools and technical schools are working with 28 businesses, four universities and a hospital on classes, internship programs, and other projects.
Accelerating 4G Mobile Services
A different kind of infrastructure also has the city’s attention. Like most of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is well-wired, with 100% availability and 84% adoption of broadband. The missing link is high-speed mobile service. Until recently, Taiwan has lagged comparable nations in the rollout of 4G/LTE services. Kaohsiung worked with the two largest telcos in Taiwan to win national government subsidies for the development of 4G services, and offers the companies resources and administrative support to promote deployment. The city’s goal is to foster the development of 4G mobile technologies by local firms. Current projects include virtual tours of the Piers II Art Center, one of the city’s most popular recreation destinations, and an application that lets shoppers scan the barcodes on items with their mobile phones and find those items waiting for them at checkout.
Technology for the Neighborhood
The city is using digital technologies to improve life at the neighborhood level. Each of its 891 neighborhoods has a designated Head of Neighborhood. The city is training them in the use of social media to better communicate with their constituents. So far, 121 Heads of Neighborhood have participated in training, of whom 75% are 50 years old or older. A similar grassroots approach targets energy conservation. The city has organized media events promoting conservation technologies and techniques, as well as competitions among schools, businesses and government departments, and volunteer groups to provide energy use assessments.
Kaohsiung has major growth plans, from redevelopment of its port in a joint venture with Taiwan International Ports Corporation to reclamation of additional land from the sea. The city’s leaders will ensure that, as its physical footprint grows, the community’s digital footprint keeps pace.
The first science park in Taiwan, Hsinchu Science Park, was established in 1980 in Hsinchu County by the National Science Council. Its purpose was to attract international technology talent, drive traditional industrial transformation, encourage industry update, enhance international competitiveness of products and stimulate economic growth. Today, its 520 companies employ over 150,000 people and generate US$30 billion in total revenue. They specialize in fields ranging from IC design, LCDs and solar cells to the Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud and 4G wireless technologies. In addition to driving the overall economic development of Taiwan, Hsinchu Science Park has improved Taiwan’s education direction, attracted many international companies to invest in Taiwan and aided in the development of the Hsinchu County region. Other Science parks in the region include Tai Yuen High-Tech Industrial Park, Taiwan's first private industrial park, which is home to 250 companies with a combined annual output of US$15 billion. Zhudong Anime Park opened in 2015 to host exhibitions of art from Taiwanese comic artists as a tourist attraction and to help stimulate a cluster of artists and animators that were originally formed after the movie, Life of Pi was developed in Taiwan by Taiwanese born American director, Ang Lee.
Fighting Back from the Financial Crisis
The financial crisis that began in 2008 hit the Park hard as demand slackened for the semiconductors its companies produced. Leading companies like TSMC, UMS, Acer and Chimei Innolux shifted investment into higher-value products and services; the integrated circuit design business grew 9 percent from 2008 to 2009. These steps led to employment growth of 11% and production growth of 25% from 2006 to 2011.
Nor is Hsinchu Science Park the county's only such asset. Tai Yuen High-Tech Industrial Park, located in Zhubei, is Taiwan's first private industrial park. It is now home to 250 companies with a combined annual output of US$15 billion. Zhudong Anime Park opened in 2015 to host exhibitions of art from Taiwanese comic artists as a tourist attraction.
Today, the county’s challenge is to continue translating economic success into civic success: to make Hsinchu a sustainable Intelligent Community with a high quality of life, where innovation is a part of people’s daily lives. The challenge is increased by the broad geographic area the county covers: from the urban coast, home of Hsinchu County, to the sparsely populated mountainous region to the east. Government and business are pursuing the goal on multiple fronts.
Broadband and E-Learning
Hsinchu County has used grants from the national M-Taiwan Plan to develop a 433km broadband network connecting public offices and facilities across the county. A total of more than 230 iTaiwan free wireless hotspots provide service in public facilities to more than 24,000 registered users. Private-sector providers include Global Mobile and Chungwha Telecom, which provide 4G wireless and 100 Mbps fiber service in Hsinchu City and beyond. Digital education has gone mainstream. The county was the first in Taiwan to implement e-learning platforms – the e-Book Schoolbag and e-Book Reader – which now reach nearly 60 schools. A new cloud-based English teaching platform was launched in 2012 to help students learn the international language of business in school and at home. An online tutoring program engages undergraduate students in helping elementary and junior high school students in rural areas of the county.
The county actively leverages its higher education assets for economic growth. There are four universities, with a total of 27,000 students, in Hsinchu County offering work-study programs, and three additional universities are planning new R&D centers to link their researchers with the companies of the science and industrial parks. For the county's indigenous population, the Zhudong Community College specializes in Hakka culture and creativity, community services and life concerns.
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Read the latest updates about Hsinchu County.
In 1980, Taiwan’s National Science Council set up the nation’s first science park in Hsinchu City, as a means to create a domestic high-tech industry. Today, the 500 companies in Hsinchu Science Park employ 150,000 people and generate US$16.6 billion in total revenue. More than 10 percent of those companies are spin-outs from one of Hsinchu’s many universities and research institutes. The 2008-09 financial crisis hit the Park hard as demand slackened for the semiconductors its companies produced. Leading companies like TSMC, UMS, Acer and Chimei Innolux shifted investment into higher-value products and services; the integrated circuit design business grew 9 percent from 2008 to 2009. These steps led to employment growth of 11% and production growth of 25% from 2006 to 2011, leaving Hsinchu with a 2012 unemployment rate of just 4.2 percent.
The Challenge of Sustainability
Today, under Mayor Hsu Ming-Tsai, the city’s challenge is to translate economic success into civic success: to make Hsinchu City a sustainable Intelligent Community with a high quality of life, where innovation is a part of people’s daily lives. Government and business are pursuing the goal on multiple fronts. Global Mobile Corp, the dominant wireless provider, has extended 4G wireless to 97% of the city, while Chungwha Telecom has made 100 Mbps fiber service available to 64% of residents as part of the national M-Taiwan program. Digital education has gone mainstream. The city was the first in Taiwan to implement e-learning platforms – the e-Book Schoolbag and e-Book Reader – which now reach nearly 60 schools. A new cloud-based English teaching platform was launched in 2012 to help students learn the international language of business in school and at home. Hsinchu City government has put a smart card into the hands of 120,000 residents that lets them take the bus, pay parking fees, borrow library books, shop and receive discounts from more than 30 participating vendors. Data collected from users is helping the city adjust bus schedules and measure how efficiently services are delivered across Hsinchu. City government has also launched an Intelligent City Project Office, which is promoting initiatives like the smart card to involve citizens closely in the city’s continued transformation. In December 2013, the city squeezed past the capital of Taipei to take the top rank in a “Better Life Index” published by Kainan University based on economic, social educational and citizen participation measures.
Smart21 2013 | 2014
Many countries have a north-south economic divide. Taiwan is no exception and Changhua County, for all of its natural beauty and abundance, is on the wrong side of it. The county is known as the “barn” of Taiwan, producing a wide range of agricultural products, and attracts tourists with hiking, biking, eco-touring and cultural and food festivals. But it is exposed to the same forces that affect other rural areas in industrialized nations: loss of population, particularly of the young, and a corresponding rise in the average age of its people. It has more small-to-midsize businesses than any other county in Taiwan but most are unregistered factories with limited capital and resulting low productivity.
Establishing Innovation Zones
The success of Central Taiwan Science Park, founded in Taiching (2013 Intelligent Community of the Year) has become an unexpected catalyst for change. The latest phase of the Science Park’s expansion has extended into the county and given new impetus to the county’s plans to develop its own innovation zones. It already possesses vital assets: multiple universities, colleges and technical schools and successful companies specializing in metals, glass art, aerospace, textiles and bicycles. Over the past decade, Changhua County has worked to create the ecosystem needed to realize the value of these assets. It has built an open access broadband network through which private-sector carriers can reach 99% of the population, and household penetration has risen from very low levels to more than 60%. To drive adoption, its offers free Internet instruction that has reached 30,000 residents to date. The county has also launched an online industrial development platform that showcases company products and guides users seeking development opportunities to available factories and sites. This integrated system empowers local business to market internationally and helps factories to upgrade their operations. It is just one of many e-government systems in planning or operation, ranging from tourism and urban planning apps to a social welfare and public safety platform that already process 90% of government documents online.
There is still far to go, but Changhua County is already seeing results. Better national and international marketing has boosted the export of agricultural products by 15 times in the past five years. University-business-government collaboration has established the Central Taiwan Textile R&D Project, the Metal Industries R&D Center and Bicycle Center, among others, to create new products and processes. Last year, the county attracted US$149 million in private investment, winning a national economic development award, and numbered Google among its new corporate citizens. The “barn” of Taiwan is finding ways to add new economic energy to its high quality of life.
South Koreans expect government to have a strong hand. The nation is a world leader in broadband penetration and speed in part because of directives issued by the national government beginning in 1995 that drove massive investment and fierce competition among private-sector carriers. It wasn’t always pretty. Companies lost money, went bankrupt or merged with each other before finding profitability. But the end result for the nation was a broadband infrastructure the envy of much of the world.
In Suwon, which lies south of Seoul and is the capital of Gyeonggi Province, a strong governing hand goes back centuries. The city was founded 200 years ago as Korea’s first planned community by King Jungjo, the 22nd ruler of the Chosen Dynasty. Long a relatively small town, Suwon has seen a surge in its population in recent decades that now makes it the second largest municipality, after Seoul, in the nation.
Like satellite cities in other regions of the world, Suwon succeeded in part by serving the needs of its much larger neighbour. It became a transportation center for southern Seoul as well as a manufacturing hub specializing in both technology and heavy industry. Then came the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Suwon's largest employer, Samsung Electronics, moved outside the city limits in 2003 and another big employer, Samsung Corning, ceased operations in 2005. While the big chaebol like Samsung dominate much of South Korea’s economy, Suwon’s leadership realized that such domination comes with costs.
Investing in a New Economy
Led by Mayor Yong Seo Kim, Suwon set about creating an economy whose growth would be based on small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs) specializing in IT, biotech and nanotechnology. City government was not shy about backing that goal with public investment. In 2003, the city began development of Suwon Industrial Complex I, which was completed in 2006 and now houses 156 metal fabrication companies. Complex II, completed in 2008, is home to 40 companies manufacturing electronic components, imaging, acoustic and telecom devices. Complex III is now under construction with a target completion date of 2012. Suwon provides the infrastructure and a range of incentives to encourage developers and factories to locate there.
For smaller firms, Suwon has put US$7 million into developing nine multi-tenant buildings, including Suwon Venture Plaza, Digital Empire and Innoplex, where 900 companies now employ over 11,000 people. A further three multi-tenant buildings are under construction to house 320 companies and over 4,000 employees. Attractive incentives for occupancy include exemption from or reduction of registration, acquisition, property and value-added taxes. The latest project is a Business Incubation Center that opened in 2008 and is now home to 25 companies.
Public-sector support extends beyond property investment and tax incentives. City government also allocates US$27m per year as investment capital to strengthen the competiveness of SMEs. The funding is designed to be matched by private investment or bank loans, but for companies too small to attract private financing, Suwon offers subsidies of up to $18,000 to support prototype development. Suwon also has an innovative Electronic Trade Office that connects to other Korean cities as well as partner cities in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The Office offers products online for sale by Suwon companies and provides a videoconferencing system to promote deal-making without the need to travel. To date, companies have sold $200,000 worth of products through the Office. A branch office of the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency extends this effort by providing overseas representation for Suwon companies. From 2003 to 2008, nearly 500 local businesses took part in expositions and market development projects.
Anyone with experience in municipal government knows that just throwing money at a problem is no guarantee of success. While betting taxpayers' money on buildings and companies, Suwon has also built a web of collaborative relationships among industry, universities and government. The tangible result is a large number of public-private research centers and institutes, including the Gyeonggi Regional Research Center, Content Convergence Software Research Center, Gyeonggi Bio Center, Korea Nano Fab Center, Next Generation Convergence Technology Institute and Green Energy, Auto Parts & Material Research Center. Some are located at local institutions including Sungkyunkwan University and Gyeonggi University. Others are based in yet another development, Kwangkyo Techno Valley, a $450m campus that is home to 145 R&D organizations.
Seven years of nurturing SMEs in specific industries have borne fruit. Two-third of Suwon companies specialize in one of its targeted industries: electronics, medical devices, chemicals and specialty metals. Companies with 50 or fewer employees make up 94% of all employers in the city.
Suwon's efforts to develop a 21st Century information infrastructure have been no less bold. In 2005, city government established the Ubiquitous Suwon Master Plan, branded as U-Happy. The goal was to make Suwon's government more transparent, more responsive to citizens and more cost-effective.
The city decided to develop its own governmental network despite South Korea's impressive broadband infrastructure. It was able to trim nearly a quarter-million US dollars from its operating costs by eliminating leased lines, and the use of conduit already installed for the transportation management system kept construction costs to a minimum. Control of its own network allowed Suwon to boost connection speeds from 32 Mbps to a blazing 1 Gbps.
What followed was a massive re-engineering project to consolidate and integrate multiple existing computer systems covering taxation, real estate, public health and safety, transportation management and city administration. Five city agencies collaborated on integration of GIS and aerial imaging data to simplify planning, eliminate hazards and increase efficiency. A unified Web gateway now provides citizens with access to online service requests, reports, payment, news and information. With 10 million unique visits per year, the site handled over 600,000 transactions in 2009 for 93,000 registered users, who can also elect to receive news and access their accounts by mobile phone. A Happy Suwon Broadcasting Station delivers local news over the Web on city government, cultural events, education and entertainment programs. And to ensure that services are available to the offline population, an Interactive Data Digital TV service offers government news, interactive services and information on traffic, health and culture through the familiar interface of the television set.
Suwon works to steadily reduce the size of that offline group. More than 35,000 people have received digital skills training from skilled volunteers in 20 education centers since 2002. As the city replaces computers in its offices, the old units are refurbished and distributed to children's centers, libraries and social welfare facility. Nearly 5,000 PCs have reached users since 2003, and the city also runs a PC clinic to provide ongoing maintenance for the systems. Suwon has also expanded the number of libraries, each with public access computers, from three in 2002 to eight today. Over five million visitors entered the libraries in 2009, up from 2.2 million in 2003. The Suwon Love Scholarship Foundation awarded $459m in scholarships to 800 students, as well as research grants to high-performing teachers, from 2006 to 2008. The scholarships go to low-income, high-potential and special education students to help pay the high costs of education.
Investing in the Mind
"Investment in education," wrote Suwon in its Top Seven nomination, "is one of the most sound and rational outlays of capital that a government can make." Between 2002 and 2009, the city backed up that proposition by investing more than US$360m in upgrading school facilities, opening new schools and expanding staff. A further $186m will fund the 2010 Suwon Education Development Support Plan, which includes 74 individual projects focusing on education for a global economy.
Globalization is much on the mind of Suwon's leadership. The Happy Suwon English Village opened in 2006 to provide an intensive learning environment in the global language of business to 7,300 elementary school students per year. A new Suwon Village of Foreign Languages, scheduled to open at the end of 2010, will provide the same environment for languages including Chinese and Japanese. In 2007, Suwon established the Gyeonggi Suwon Foreign School to make the city a premier destination for expatriates with families working for Korean multinationals. The school's targeted enrollment is 75% foreign nationals and 25% local students.
Suwon's educational programs also focus on technology innovation. The Scientific Education Institute of Gyeonggi Province offers specialized IT classes at a local secondary school. The city holds an annual Suwon Invention Competition for students and sends contestants to the World Innovation Olympiad every year. Since 2004, Suwon has organized an Information & Science Festival, which attracts 60,000 registrants to a National e-Sports Competition, National Intelligent Robot Competition, Students' Science Festival, Professional Gamers Exhibition and many more events.
The financial crisis of 1997 set Suwon on its present course and triggered investment in building an SME-driven economy, e-government and education. South Korea was not immune to the recession of 2008-2009; its economy shrank 5% in the last quarter of 2008. But it began to rebound in early 2009, thanks in part to strong government action. It was perhaps no coincidence that, in January 2010, the United Nations announced that Korea had topped its e-government rankings, the first such performance by an Asian nation. It was the same success story found, on a local scale, in Suwon.
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Suwon was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Seizing Our Destiny.
Labor Force: 551,500