Transparency vital for smart city development, says scholar

Filipe Castro Soeiro

number of drawbacks, including the termination of ride-sharing services, have hindered Macau’s aim of becoming a smart city. A scholar has argued that transparency and communication are needed to efficiently achieve the goal established by the MSAR government.

In August 2017, local authorities formed a strategic partnership with the Alibaba Group to further the city’s objective of becoming a smart city. However, some residents are still waiting for updates regarding the four- year partnership.

At a breakfast meeting held by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce this week, scholar Filipe Castro Soeiro highlighted the need for Macau to rethink its tourism and leisure business and to transform these areas so they may evolve and respond to future needs.

As the city acquires an ability to attract sophisticated demand – in this context to the greater bay area – it needs to acknowledge that the system could act as a hub with multiple specializations and functions.

Soeiro, a visiting professor at the University of Saint Joseph’s School of Business, noted that the city should also exert efforts to attract foreign talent and multi-national companies to assist with the development of a smart city – a goal in the city’s Five-Year Development Plan.

In fact, Soeiro noted that other cities in the greater bay area including Shenzhen and Guangzhou have been attracting new, sophisticated, technological executive talent – a move that Macau could also make.

“I see a lot of capacity in responding with innovative value proposition to capture the consumer orientation and also to receive these customers’ feedback,” said the scholar.

“I think Macau can play a huge role in this transformation,” he adds.

However, the expert believes that such a move requires both a “top down, bottom up” process, citing the importance of transparency, communication and a master plan from authorities.

The scholar stressed that it is important for the MSAR to have transparent communication in order to build social capital in the ecosystem. He added that all the efforts the city is conducting are mere baby steps toward its ultimate aim of transforming the region into a smart city by 2021.

“I guess Macau, Hong Kong and other regions’ [in the Pearl River Delta] governments will have to work together to execute a new set of programs,” he added.

“This is not only about Macau’s smart city. You have to have a higher-level instrument for the region, not just for Macau, that defines the scope, the roles and the macro initiatives for Macau,” Soeiro explained.

The expert also suggested that the master plan should specify and define the roles and goals of each region and its relevant institutes and use them as an instrument to efficiently turn the region into a smart city.

“Have some measures and reinforcement [such as] a one stop shop for physical incentives [and] for initiating new businesses. So even from that standpoint, the government can do more steps in this regard,” said the scholar.

One of the key players that the government could collaborate with are universities that provide “smarter opportunities, flexible and innovative programs,” to assist with the region’s development.

According to him, “once the transformation is initiated, it would make universities part of the movement and would lead to a growing momentum.”

The scholar also believes that Macau should have a smart city consortium, similar to that in Hong Kong, which would provide a platform for professionals to provide opinions and suggestions which would be submitted to the government.

These recommendations would assist the government to formulate related policies and invite collaboration from around the globe.

“This is a kind of societal movement that we need. It is about aligning these multiple sensitivities and key roles together to set up think tanks around smart city challenges and opportunities,” he said.

“Also to [set up] measures and initiatives, to share ideas, to group capacities and resources, and to establish key partnerships,” Soeiro concluded.

Categories Macau