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.
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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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Read the latest updates about Suwon.
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Suwon was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Seizing Our Destiny.
Labor Force: 551,500
The second Korean community on the 2008 list, Hwaseong and its new Dong Tan community incorporates the vision of the “U-City” where information access will be ubiquitous. The community is using IT to make its own construction a model of efficiency.
The Gangnam District lies to the south of the Han River, which snakes through South Korea's capital city from east to west. This district of 557,000 people contains 2.5% of Seoul's people but produces 25% of its gross domestic product. High-rise apartments make up 80% of its residential areas, and the district is home to the corporate headquarters of such Korean firms as POSCO and Korea Telecom, as well as the IT venture companies on Teheran Road, South Korea's Silicon Valley.
So it is perhaps no surprise that, if you wish to see how completely broadband and information technology can transform local government, Gangnam-gu (as it is called in Korean) is the place to go.
Getting an Early Start
Gangnam's development as an Intelligent Community began in 1995, when the district launched its first "electronic government" project. By 1997, the district had a local area network connecting government offices and a set of tax payment and other applications running on public kiosks. By 1999, the system could process all registrations, permits and other citizen applications electronically. Gangnam converted the system to the Web in 2002, and by 2006, Gangnam collected 264 billion won (US$280m) in taxes online, 15% of the total, and issued 2 million documents to citizens through the Internet or public kiosks. The system has made possible a 25% reduction in the local government's employment since 1995, saving 36.7bn won (US$39m), even as population and economic activity have grown sharply. In terms of what economists call "opportunity cost," Gangnam estimates that it has saved citizens time worth another 28.5bn won (US$30m). Just as important, it has minimized opportunities for corruption, because nearly every transaction between government and constituents (except those requiring the protection of personal privacy) takes place through Web-accessible platforms. As Koreans say, "no fungus grows in the light." Gangnam's system for providing access to public documents was adopted by the national government in 2002.
The years since 1995 were witness to an economic miracle in South Korea, which saw per capita GDP climb 71% through 2006. There was a matching broadband miracle as well. In 1995, only 1% of South Koreans used the Internet. Under strong policies from the national government, private wireline and wireless carriers deployed broadband networks that reached 14 million subscribers (28% of South Korea's population) by 2006, ranking the nation fourth in the world. They also enjoy some of the fastest speeds in the world, with 100 Mbps available for as little as 35,000 won (US$37) per month. Today, 3,000 Gangnam residents subscribe to Wibro, an advanced form of broadband that can be used even in a speeding car, while 8,000 South Koreans are using a digital broadcasting service to watch TV on their handheld devices during the commute to work.
Broadband for the People
Gangnam-gu was quick to seize on broadband as a means to make government more transparent, increase citizen participation, and even to help citizens who remained outside the local broadband economy. About 350,000 citizens are registered users of the district's Web portal, and 210,000 are subscribers to an email system that asks for their comment on proposed laws and regulations. They seem to take their responsibilities seriously. Recently, the district proposed installation of surveillance cameras in a particular alley in a residential district. A local human rights organization opposed the move on privacy grounds. When polled by email, however, 82% of residents supported the move and installation subsequently led to a 40% reduction in crimes in the area. One interesting aspect of the email polling system is that Gangnam uses demographic weighting to adjust the results. It compares the demographics of the citizens who vote (provided in the registration process) with those of the district as a whole, and weights the voting in order to make it reflective of the whole population.
The Web has also played a vital role in a public campaign introduced by newly elected Mayor Maeng Jung-ju in July 2006 called the Movement to Keep Basic Order. The campaign enlists citizens in reporting on public nuisances, from illegal parking to environmental violations, by phone and online. More important than improved law enforcement is the change it has created in public awareness. Within 10 months of the campaign's start, the average daily number of violations reported dropped nearly 9%.
Gangnam has also found innovative ways to bring the benefits of Web-enabled government to citizens who have never gone online. In 2005, Gangnam equipped its social service staff with wireless PDAs, enabling them to check information, make reports and request services while visiting clients. In 2006, it launched TV GOV, a set of interactive e-government applications running over the familiar medium of the television set. The system enables users to access services in 34 categories, as well as government news channels, cultural and arts channels, and specialized information for seniors, women and children. In 2007, the district began offering a service that placed wireless motion detectors in the homes of the elderly and triggered a remote alarm if the sensor failed to detect motion for an extended period of time. In 2008, the service will be extended to provide citizens with the option of wireless location tracking for young children or the elderly suffering from dementia. These are the first of a set of "ubiquitous technology" services that the district expects to introduce in coming years to further improve the quality of life of its citizens.
Education Online and Offline
Korean culture puts a premium on education. The success of the broadband economy in Gangnam has both added to educational requirements and delivered new ways to meet them. To equip citizens with digital skills, a program called the Regional Information Classroom has provided classes on computers and the Web to over 400,000 citizens in their middle and senior years. Additional instruction is available via programs on TV GOV.
Education is a major expense for families with children in South Korea, and low-income students are at a substantial disadvantage. Gangnam offers several programs to lower this barrier. The district offers over 100 online lectures from a famous private academy for only 20,000 won (US$21) per year to more than 335,000 registrants. It has opened digital libraries in the empty classrooms of elementary schools, providing access to 330,000 electronic books not only in those schools but nationwide to more than 133,000 students in 123 communities. The district also has a partnership with the University of California at Riverside's International Education Center to deliver ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction to students in the district. Knowledge of English is considered so important that it assigns native English speakers to work in its schools and operates an "English Experience Village," in which students interact with native English speakers in real-life situations.
This vast array of programs takes a great deal of investment. Gangnam also invests directly in business development. Its Small & Medium Business Development Fund invested 4 billion won (US$4.2m) in 32 technology companies in 2006. It also underwrites the activities of local nonprofits dedicated to business development, child welfare, sports and conservation. But in addition to the intangible returns of good governance, the community sometimes receives a direct return that also makes headlines. In 2004, Saga City in Japan awarded a US$2 million contract to a Gangnam company to build a complex software platform. What Saga City wanted, and was willing to pay for, was Gangnam's e-government system.
Labor Force: 496,490
Intelligent Community of the Year 2008
Smart21 2006 | 2007 | 2008
Top7 2006 | 2007
The story of many Intelligent Communities is of boom times followed by bust in the second half of the 20th Century. For Whanganui, on the southwest coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the best of times may lie ahead. Bypassed by national rail lines in the 19th Century – which led to the closing of a railways workshop that was a major employer – it was bypassed again by broadband providers in the 20th. Though rich in natural beauty and culture, Whanganui ranks near the bottom of the New Zealand index of social deprivation. That is a reputation the city has begun to change.
Spreading Broadband Awareness
In recent years, Whanganui has secured a high-speed, open-access, fiber-to-the-premise network for the city, with sixteen retailers now providing services over fiber. Many neighboring towns and regions, however, continue to struggle with low quality broadband and dial-up speeds, and Whanganui still has its own rural broadband gaps to fill. To address this issue and help the region as a whole, representatives of the Whanganui Digital Leaders Forum, led by Mayor Annette Main, visited the New Zealand central government to advocate for a national investment in fiber networks. The representatives proposed at those meetings that the government should consult with communities across the country to discover the highest areas of need, as communities are know their own needs best. The Mayor of Whanganui also asked neighboring mayors to support a cross-regional approach to fiber expansion to help raise political understanding and support for these proposals.
From 2014 to 2015, Whanganui ran a pilot program called “About Us,” which provided a free online presence for local businesses. The project has since been improved and expanded based on the pilot and offered cross regionally as #GetDigital. The GetDigital project offers a free online presence for all local businesses, a free online learning community, access to cloud solutions for each community’s needs, a page on local success stories with video content, a page on local workshops and events, and a digital engagement dashboard to track each community’s progress. In the eighteen months since implementing this project and the cross-region strategy, broadband use has nearly doubled in Whanganui, according to New Zealand’s largest fiber provider.
The WeLearn Charitable Trust was established in 2015 to facilitate education through collaboration between digital educators and local companies. WeLearn has organized a pilot project connecting student devices to a fixed wi-fi network with the help of a local wi-fi company. Three schools will be taking part in the trial, which will be run free of cost to determine if it is an effective solution. Discussions are currently underway with hardware providers. Tawhero, one of the founding schools of the WeLearn Trust, aims to provide 1:1 devices to students and free Internet access 24/7 so that students can take their devices home and continue learning there. As of now, the school provides 24-hour free wireless Internet connectivity for community usage and encourages the community to come to the school grounds for access. Three classrooms so far have 1:1 devices (mostly Chromebooks) for their students, and the school is working to increase this number.
WeLearn has also been in discussions with The Mind Lab, a pioneer in digital and collaborative learning, and also with Unitec, a leader in applied vocational education. Together, the organizations are offering an applied, progressive and blended postgraduate qualification program for teachers, specializing in digital and collaborative learning. The program introduces new teaching methodologies and practical knowledge of digital tools. As of November 2016, thirty-four teachers from twenty different Whanganui schools have enrolled in the Mind Lab’s program to complete its Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning).
The Innovation Quarter
Whanganui’s planned Innovation Quarter is a major part of its regional growth strategy. The initial framework will consist of four sectors or “quarters” – the incubator quarter, the creative quarter, the agribusiness quarter, and the aged care and health innovation quarter. The facility will be a hub of collaboration where corporate, local businesses, education providers, and local artists and specialists all interact and form strategic partnerships. The Innovation Quarter will be attached to a town center library and central transport hub for easy access. To make this center of collaboration a reality, the Whanganui District Council has included the Innovation Quarter in its ten-year plan (2015-2025).
One of the Innovation Quarter’s most integral components is the Maori Business Hub, which creates opportunities for local Maori businesses to meet and network with each other across a range of industries. The Maori Business Hub is intended to be a renewed version of the 2003 Whanganui Maori Business Network, which closed in 2007. The hub will serve as a place for learning, sharing knowledge, creating alliances and bringing a uniquely Maori perspective to business in Whanganui.
The Innovation Quarter will provide many educational and economic benefits. Collaboration among the quarters in a centrally organized hub will allow Whanganui to attract blended programs from Auckland University of Technology and the Universal College of Learning as well as international education providers to the region, allowing students to stay local while learning. The Innovation Quarter will also be able to develop applied learning programs that are more in tune with private sector needs, which will help residents find more local quality employment opportunities. On the economic side, a central hub will help new businesses to grow more quickly, providing an ideal environment for entrepreneurship.
Digital Access for Those Most in Need
Computers in Homes is a digital inclusion project that focuses on digital literacy for parents and guardians. This ensures that whole families gain an understanding and appreciation of technology as parents pass on knowledge to their children. At a cost of $50, the program provides low-income families with free training, a computer, twelve months of subsidized Internet access and technical support. From 2013 to 2014, the Whanganui Computers in Homes program assisted 117 families, resulting in 130 new Computers in Comes graduates. These families represented about 10% of Whanganui’s families that do not currently have access to a computer or the Internet.
Stepping Up is a program that provides free, community-based computer and Internet training programs for adults. It is a suitable follow-up program for those that have participated in Computers in Homes. Stepping Up provides a number of training modules (called digital steps) for those with basic computer knowledge who wish to expand their skills in one or more areas to improve their work and home life. The training modules generally take no more than 2.5 hours to complete and are delivered by local training providers and libraries for ease of access. As of July 2016, Whanganui has delivered a computer, Internet connection, and twenty hours of course training to over one thousand families in the region. The city intends to increase Stepping Up coverage in libraries in Whanganui, Rangitikei, and Ruapehu in the coming year.
Since being named a Smart21 for the first time four years ago, Whanganui has become an example to cities across New Zealand and begun to build a reputation very different from its past.
Smart21 2013 | 2014 | 2015 |2016 | 2017 | 2020
Kazakhstan became an independent nation in 1991, following decades of Soviet rule. The small provincial city of Astana became its new capital six years later. Since then, Astana has rapidly swelled in population, reaching 877,000 in 2016.
Kazakhstan is the size of Western Europe but has a population of only 18 million. Its capital city rises from the plains, full of signature buildings funded by the country’s rich resources of oil, natural gas and high-value minerals. Over the past 16 years, the city has absorbed $30 billion in investment and seen its gross regional product expand by 90 times.
Wi-Fi Broadband for All
Investment has gone into more than bricks and mortar. A free Wi-Fi network, launched in 2011, serves 26 public areas of the city with up to 10 Mbps per user. It is accessed by a half million unique users per month. As with most Wi-Fi systems, however, service quality is uneven, and the city encourages users to leave reviews on a tech support telephone number to help government identify problem zones and target them for upgrades. The city bus network uses 3G to connect Wi-Fi hubs on its buses, which attract more than 1,000 users per month.
Education is an issue important to Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Astana’s university, founded in 2010, has attracted a number of foreign academics to its staff. It is the most prominent of 44 institutions of higher learning in the city. The national government also makes it possible for school graduates to study overseas, all expenses paid, if they return to Kazakhstan to work for at least five years after graduation. Many of these foreign-educated young people make their home in Astana and contribute to its growing culture of innovation.
Technology is reaching into the public school system through student-teacher web portals, distance learning, specialized classes in 3D technologies and one-to-one laptop programs. The city also holds free classes in sign language for the families of deaf residents.
In 2012, city government created an innovation organization called Astana Innovations JSC to implement the mandates of a national program, Informational Kazakhstan 2020. It has helped drive a variety of e-government projects including a Smart Clinic management system for health clinics and a Smart School program that keeps parents informed about their children’s progress via text message and issues chip-based identity cards that control access to facilities, act as library cards and let kids pay for meals at school. Over the 4 years from 2008 to 2012, Kazakhstan rose from 43rd to 38th place in the UN’s E-Government Survey. Services include electronic document management, procurement, tax payments, e-customers and the issuing of licenses.
Astana Innovations has also developed interactive urban planning tools, based on French technology, that help envision the impact of new infrastructure on citizens’ lives. A hackathon launched in 2014 produced 16 projects that received cash prizes for further development, and a Startup Weekend produced 20 business plans that competed for cash awards.
Kazakhstan is an arid country, but Astana has exploited its position on the Ishim River to make much of the city a green zone. Since 2011, government has planted hundreds of thousands of trees as windbreaks and sown vast acreage with perennial grasses. As much effort goes into conditioning the soil and finding resistant strains that can thrive in the salty, dry conditions.
Making Astana greener is a public priority. Every year on Green Day, city workers and citizens turn out to clean the city, and capital residents joined in the planting, putting down more than 3,000 seedlings in just one year.
In much of the developing world, breakneck growth has meant a sharp decline in quality of life. Astana is determined to move in the opposite direction and create a thriving Intelligent Community on the desert plains.
Smart21 2015 | 2017