GTEF | Data privacy hindering Macau’s smart city development

The Macau SAR’s rigorous enforcement of data privacy could hinder the city’s progress in becoming a smart city, a Macau-based academic said yesterday.

The dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The University of Macau, Xu Chengzhong, spoke yesterday as part of a panel discussion at the Global Tourism Economic Forum 2019 titled “Smart Cities to Smart Destinations Towards Wellness and Happiness”.

According to Xu, there is a challenge in the SAR that needs to be confronted to improve the overall quality of tourism in Macau.

“When we talk about smart tourism, we talk about information technology to improve efficiency of the government and improve the tourist experience in Macau,” said Xu during the discussion.

“We would like to provide more public service with respect to management, and improve public safety and improve the customer experience,” he said, explaining that smart tourism is one of his faculty’s focuses.

However, Xu pointed out that big data plays a significant role, thus merging and analyzing this data in Macau should be well thought-through from the legal perspective.

Xu shared that building Shenzhen into a smart city was made possible through the collection of all kinds of data, including the tracking of the tourists’ and residents’ mode of transportation.

“How we could have this data collection in Macau […] is a big challenge. There is a legislative part in Macau that is sensitive; they are quite conservative in terms of data privacy,” said Xu.

“If you want to provide a good user experience, […] all these services are built on data. But whether it is allowed by Macau’s data privacy laws or not, we need to put a question mark on that,” the scholar added.

Xu added that striking a balance between privacy and the use of data remains Macau’s biggest challenge.

As part of the SAR’s Five-Year Development Plan, Macau aims to expedite smart city development, and facilitate the integration of industries and the internet. One approach has been to partner with different groups and associations, such as Alibaba.

Nanjing identifies tourism trends

Meanwhile, according to Jin Wei Dong, director-general of Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, his office is focusing on providing services to government departments by analyzing big data to identify tourism trends in Nanjing.

The office also analyzes the consumption and spending data of tourists to better optimize the services it provides to visitors, as well as their itinerary data.

“This is serving government entities and we provide information on where these tourists come from […] then we will have specific measures to target these tourists,” he added.

For Nanjing, the biggest challenge is to how to better present diversified offerings and products for its tourists.

Brazil, Argentina

dabble in big data

As discussed by the panel, both São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina are developing an intelligent tourism system based on big data. This can be used by the government to develop new policies to strategically target different markets.

However, turning their cities into smart ones also remains a challenge as they also aim to create more “livable” cities.

According to Fernando Amer, operations manager of the International Market at the Buenos Aires Tourism Board in Argentina, the country focuses on training and supporting new entrepreneurs and projects related to smart tourism products that benefit the city.

According to Amer, the move is to make the city a competitive one in terms of tourism.

“We provide support to companies and hotels that are interested in developing sustainable policies,” the official said.

As for Vinicius Lummertz, secretary of Tourism of São Paulo State Government, his city has created new bus lanes and bicycle lanes in its cities.

“We have to have a friendly and livable city for the citizens. We will also launch an app at the end of this year to give small firms the opportunity to connect with visitors,” he said.

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