OVER 100 million Filipinos or almost the entire country’s population today will be living in urban areas or cities in 2050, according to the World Bank.
In a blog, World Bank urban geographer Sarah Elizabeth Antos and consultant Yimin Zhou said 102 million Filipinos will live in cities—a figure that is estimated to be double the number today.
The experts said in the Philippines, majority or 70 percent of urban local government units (LGUs) are planning for smart cities to accommodate these Filipinos.
“While national government agencies and LGUs’ enthusiasm and commitment towards smart city transitions are plausible, the journey faces significant challenges. Success requires a structured, collaborative approach involving various stakeholders,” the experts said.
The experts said 61 percent of the country’s LGUs have smart city projects in progress, and 56 percent already have policies to support the development of smart cities.
However, the experts said based on 59 percent of LGUs, their challenges pointed to a lack of digital infrastructure and systems as a challenge while another 57 percent of these LGUs noted that their challenges are focused on the technical competencies and manpower shortage.
The experts also said 67 percent of the respondents consider resources a concern. Nonetheless, they said 72 percent of LGUs have allocated budgets to support smart city projects.
Antos and Zhou said LGUs had also noted the collaboration is the foundation of success for smart city transitions. A significant 56 percent of LGUs have existing institutional support or partnerships for smart city implementation.
The experts said the support mainly comes from the national government, according to 63 percent of LGUs; 18 percent cited the private sector support. However, they said there is a gap in terms of collaborations with the academe.
“Key elements include ongoing support from funding bodies, building strong technical skills, and partnering with academia. Tailoring technologies to the Filipino urban context is essential for sustainable and inclusive solutions,” the experts said.
In 2022, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said the lack of interoperability of data systems is another major challenge in smart cities.
The researchers also identified changes in administration as a challenge in building smart cities, since new administrations could overturn smart city policies.
The PIDS researchers said funds are crucial in building smart cities because investments are needed to upgrade equipment like computers, closed-circuit television cameras, and high-tech sensors.
They added that installing faster and more stable internet connection as well as hiring and training ICT staff to support all the technical systems would require significant investment.