By Johannes Chua

From 450 entries all over the world, Makati emerged as one of the top cities when it comes to innovation.

Makati, together with the cities of Bonn (Germany), Barcelona (Spain), Pretoria (South Africa), Dubai (UAE), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), and Vadodara (India), were cited for their “innovative idea” during the World Smart City Awards 2019, held during the Smart City Expo World Congress at Fria Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.

Skyline - Makati cited for ‘innovative idea’ in World Smart City Awards

Buildings are seen as vehicles pass through the financial district of Makati city.
(REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

Makati City Mayor Abigail ‘Abby’ Binay personally accepted the citation Wednesday night, an honor considering that the city is the only one in Southeast Asia in that category.

Makati’s innovative idea — “Improving City Disaster Preparedness and Communication to and from City Citizens” — is now in full implementation as seen in its efficient command center which is used for emergency response and disaster risk mitigation.  This also forms part of Binay’s vision to make Makati a full-fledged Smart City in the coming years.

“In the Philippines, Makati is proud to lead the way toward a sustainable, innovative, and safe future,” said Binay.   “We are at the forefront of strategic development particularly in the areas of mobility, connectivity, and resiliency.”

Binay was also part of an international panel composed of executives, ministers, and mayors who talked on “Cities to Move On: Embracing all forms of Mobility.”

“With a daytime population of five million, and a nighttime population of one million, it is obvious that Makati has a mobility challenge,” said the mayor. “However, this also presents us the opportunity to discover solutions.”

One of the solutions presented was a subway, which is “key to untangle the traffic grid.” Considered the Philippines’ first subway — the Makati City Subway System is the country’s biggest locally initiated public-private partnership (PPP). Aside from creating 10,000 jobs in the coming years, it will ease traffic congestion in the city and make it more “walkable” as it lessens dependence on motorized transport — part of the factors in becoming a Smart City.

“As this is a PPP, there will be no money spent by the government,” she said at the forum.

Part of Binay’s Smart City initiatives is launching the country’s largest citywide fiber optic loop, providing free internet for Makati citizens. It signaled the new age of connectivity in local governance, where communication is accessible and available to all barangays — covering close to one million residents.

The free internet program paved the way for the implementation of a comprehensive city app, the Makatizen App.  This app connects the local government to the people and provides linkage between the city’s key private and public stakeholders.

One of the uses of the app is real-time connectivity between the people and the city’s command center — which is the one cited as an “innovative idea.”

“It gives our Makatizens faster access to the police, fire station, and the local government. Quick access and fast response to crime, crisis, and calamity. Other concerns such as garbage collection, animal control, flooding, and traffic are acted upon decisively,” said the mayor.

The Makati Subway System, the Makatizen App, the Makatizen Card plus the fiber optic network — all these showcase the groundwork being done preparing Makati to become a truly Smart City.

The annual Smart City Expo World Congress is  now on its ninth year.

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