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2021 Mayors’ Summit Concludes: New Normal Brings Digital Transformations to Cities

Jordan Reeves, Executive Director of Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, and Omer Caspi, Representative of Israel Economic and Cultural Office in TaipeiThe 2021 Smart City Mayors’ Summit has successfully concluded on Mar 24th after two video conference sessions (on Mar. 23rd and 24th) with 24 city leaders and representatives from 18 countries, with each sharing how they respond to COVID-19 pandemic through smart technologies under the “New Normal”. Taipei City is represented by Mayor Ko Wen-je and Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan. This year, the Summit took place both physically in a conference room in Taipei and virtually as an online livestreaming session. In total, the two sessions drew 264 registered participants from across 30 countries and accumulated over 2, 200 views as of today, allowing Taipei to promote its successful pandemic control experience to global city leaders, creating a new pattern for city diplomacy.
Mayor Ko stated that because of effective pandemic control measures, the Smart City Mayors’ Summit was able to take place in both online and offline formats this year, allowing the representatives of foreign offices in Taiwan to attend, including those from the UK, Netherlands, Canada, and Israel. City leaders and mayors from all over the world also congregated online to share their respective tech-assisted strategies for economic recovery in midst of the pandemic. At the Summit, Mayor Ko pointed out that the world is entering a very different era of a “New Normal,” which is the critical timing for a digital transformation. Governments should take the lead in building up a digital platform to help businesses in this transformation, elevate citizen’s digital life quality, and motivate cross-border collaborations in social innovation and community thinking. Through the “Taipei Smart City Industry Field Pilot Program”, Taipei seeks to construct a rich living lab ecosystem.
      Deputy Mayor Huang stressed that Taipei will continue to foster its digital infrastructure, such as the 5G network, big data center, and Taipei Pass App. In addition, the recognized online learning and contactless e-payment will be pillar applications in the policy-making under the new normal. She also mentioned that Taipei City is working with multiple cities worldwide this year to strengthen international networking and connection. For example, Taipei signed a smart city collaboration MOU with the deputy mayor of City of Budapest, a restatement of friendship agreement with its sister city Daegu, a tourism MOU with Lalitpur Metropolitan City, and witnessing the signing of a ICT industrial collaboration MOU between IT organizations from the respective cities with its Medellin counterpart.
      Commissioner Lu Hsin-ke of Department of Information Technology expressed his gratitude to the Mayor's Office for External Affairs who helped to invite representatives from foreign offices in Taiwan to this grand gathering. The representatives from Netherlands Office, British Office Canadian Trade Office and Israel Economic and Cultural Office all attended the Mayors’ Summit in person to deliver their remarks. Rene Beerepoot, Deputy Representative of Netherlands Office Taipei, remarked that Netherlands is facilitating city management with technologies such as 5G network, private-public partnership, and citizen participation to deploy city’ policies in smart city development. Deputy Representative Andrew Pittam of British Office explained that the government is providing subsidies and legislation, i.e. the Bristol program, to support and invite businesses to the 5G living lab as their technological testbeds, while benefiting citizens as the same time. Jordan Reeves, Executive Director of Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, mentioned how much he enjoyed the great convenience brought by Taipei’s smart city applications including EasyCard and small-amount payment, as well as the ride on the autonomous bus which operated along Xinyi Road. Omer Caspi, Representative of Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, pointed out that the government realized and dealt with the issues of slow development in smart healthcare and fintech by presenting a 265 project to expand its digital service, using digital tools and basic systems. Its capital, Tel Aviv, recently established a municipal innovation center to enhance the quality of human resources, incubate innovative solutions, and introduce the city as a living lab.
  Mayor Kwon Young-jin of Daegu, Taipei’s sister city in Republic of Korea, explained the city’s active measures “New Deal” in pandemic era, in which the municipality invested US$10 billion in business recovery to build urban resilience, sett up smart city base, and nurture digital talents to facilitate an industry transformation towards a Daegu Smart City 2.0. Compared to Daegu’s generous support programs, Deputy Mayor of Budapest Gábor Kerpel-Fronius pointed out that while private sectors have been partnering with the public sector to develope smart applications in response measures, the central government is meanwhile cutting budgets in the post-pandemic era. Therefore, the city government has to find a low-cost and sustainable way to turn Budapest into a resilient city.
      The city of Prague, another sister city of Taipei, was represented by Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, who provided an overview of his city’s pillar policies such as open data and open database, which the government has to update correctly and transparently for the public to fight against fake news on vaccines or pandemic information. They even established an open system for people to find and go reach their nearest testing station in a safe and fast manner. Daniel Quintero Calle, Mayor of Colombia’s Medellín, stated that his government constructed a platform for local relief and subsidy plans, as well as providing more medical resources that save more time for its people. The new community software center offers better education resources and opportunities with free high-level education programs for teens. Medellín also plans to work with businesses on developing a caring ecosystem, social support, family visits, and mental health for its citizens, creating a livable eco-city connecting the whole urban space.
Through the exchange of invaluable experiences among global cities, the 2021 Smart City Mayors’ Summit is expected to inspire more innovative services for smart cities in the future.

  • Session I, 2021 Smart City Mayors’ Summit
LIVE link:【Chinese】https://youtu.be/1QnArC59GU4
  • Session II, 2021 Smart City Mayors’ Summit
LIVE link:【Chinese】https://youtu.be/1QnArC59GU4