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‘Smart city’ solutions powered by PLDT, Smart showcased to Asia-Pacific mayors

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PLDT and Smart’s digital solutions that helped Cauayan City, Isabela become the country’s first ‘smart city’ were recently showcased at the Asia Pacific Mayors Academy.

The Academy engages city leaders in the Asia-Pacific to help build their capacities in developing and implementing sustainable urban solutions in their respective communities.

Speaking before mayors from across the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and local chief executives from the Philippines, John Palanca, Smart FVP and Regional Head – Consumer Sales Group, presented how PLDT and Smart were able to collaborate with Cauayan City in finding the right solutions to develop platforms quickly and with agility.

“Smart city means giving residents a better quality of life and inclusion for all regardless of their economic and financial circumstances in the community," emphasized Palanca.

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The project was a unique undertaking because Cauayan is an agro-industrial hub, far from a highly urbanized metropolis that easily comes to mind when talking about smart cities.

The term “smart city” may evoke first world iterations such as automated traffic systems, driverless public transport, real-time monitoring of environmental factors and the like. But in Cauayan’s case, the solutions are more down to earth.

“I need to use technology to ultimately improve the lives of the people,” said Cauayan City Mayor Bernard Dy.

As the pandemic raged last year, the city government implemented a ‘No QR code, no entry’ policy in all government offices and commercial centers making use of the Stay Safe app that was developed by Multisys. The order aims to make contact tracing efforts more efficient in Cauayan.

Business owners like Ronaldo Hubilla embraced the technology as it lessens touch points and physical interaction between his staff and customers.

“It’s very safe and convenient. Customers only need to scan the QR code to register their presence in our shop. They no longer must manually write their details before entering. And everything’s stored in a digital logbook which makes record-keeping easier,” he said.

Dy has always believed technology has the power to transform people’s lives. The local government has pinpointed the city's immediate needs and developed their own tools to help Cauayanons. One of which is its homegrown citizen app, a unified electronic payment system that can be used across Cauayan. City officials also installed free Wi-Fi in barangays to help residents access government services more efficiently.

The city also worked with PLDT and Smart to develop applications, adopt technologies that improve the lives of residents especially the farmers, and streamline government processes.

Crucial to this endeavor is a reliable network that enables Cauayan to run its custom digital solutions consistently. PLDT and Smart upgraded their infrastructure to support the city’s aspirations.

PLDT, the country’s largest integrated telco, expanded its fiber network in the northern Luzon city to open more ports, while its wireless arm, Smart, upgraded cell sites in the area to LTE to offer a better internet experience.

Recently, Smart rolled out 5G in Cauayan. To date, Smart has fired up more than 1,400 5G sites nationwide. The network is supported by PLDT’s fiber infrastructure that stretches to more than 429,000 kilometers as of December 2020, the most extensive in the country.

To complement the upgrade, both PLDT and Smart rolled out connectivity solutions and inclusive social programs that empower ordinary citizens and business owners alike.

PLDT and Smart also struck an agreement with Isabela State University (ISU) to deploy the country's first XGS-PON, or symmetrical 10Gbps Fixed Internet technology, in the school. This will help faculty and students develop future smart city applications and other innovations.

ISU also hopped onboard the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program or SWEEP which aims to produce industry-ready Engineering and Information Technology graduates as well as future technology innovators.

Smart also rolled out its Digital Farmers Program (DFP) in the city to empower local farmers. Part of Smart’s #FarmSmart advocacy, DFP is a pioneering collaboration between Smart and DA-ATI that aims to level up farmers’ productivity and marketability through trainings on the basics of smartphone use, accessing the Internet, online safety, and security, agri apps, social media, and social media marketing.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Cauayan City installed its own Visitors Registration System that’s powered by PLDT, Smart and Multisys. The platform was later repurposed to help with the city’s contact tracing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cauayan is one of the best examples that we can all learn from. Having a good partnership for sustainable development will create positive change. We’re lucky to have PLDT and Smart as partners,” said Dy.

The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy aims to assist city leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to promote sustainable urban development.

It is a joint initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) – in cooperation with the United Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS); the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).

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