Manila taps Microsoft as ‘smart city’ partner

Published October 28, 2021, 3:44 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

MPIO Photo

The City of Manila and Microsoft forged a partnership on Oct. 27, 2021 to digitally transform the capital and empower over two million citizens.

“Manila has taken on an enormous challenge in their ambition to become a smart city and we’re supporting their transformation efforts,” says Andres Ortola, Country General Manager of Microsoft Philippines.

“Our collaboration with Microsoft – a global leader in software, education, enterprise, digital and cloud technologies – accelerates our ambitions to build a 21st century economy that lifts up our poor, improves job opportunities for our middle class, enhances how the City Government of Manila works internally and improves how we deliver services externally as we recover from the pandemic,” according to Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso.

Digital transformation has been at the heart of Mayor Domagoso’s administration. Upon taking office in 2019, he discovered Manila lacked baseline data sets for population, family size, income, education, etc.

Thus, his first act as Manila’s 27th Mayor was to promulgate Executive Order No. 1, The City of Manila Open Governance Ordinance to support automation and computerization of city processes, accelerate digitally-driven data gathering and introduce technology advancements across all governance streams.

“City governments today have an opportunity to better serve their citizens through the power of technology,” Ortola maintained.

“Artificial Intelligence, the Cloud, and Data can all be harnessed to increase efficiencies and improve everything from public safety, transportation, infrastructure and citizen services,” he pointed out.

In June 2021, the City of Manila was among 50 Finalist Global Champion Cities in the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2021 Global Mayor’s Challenge, the world’s most prestigious competition for urban innovation for cities of 100,000+ population.

Manila’s entry to the competition, “Go Manila”, seeks to build the first, holistic, digital data infrastructure by any Philippine city, large or small.

Now, the partnership between the City of Manila and Microsoft advances the goals for the Go Manila initiative, across three broad partnership workplans.

The first partnership area empowers every Manila resident to become smart citizens.

Currently, the City of Manila is creating digital IDs for every one of its 2-million plus residents, with initial focus on the estimated 350,000 poorest and most at-risk or vulnerable populations.

These individuals do not possess formal identification and cannot apply for a Philippine national ID.

The City of Manila digital ID will empower these most vulnerable persons even if they do not possess a smart device.

They can register for benefits, education, job training, cash support, and more.

Microsoft is supporting the roll-out of this transformative initiative.

Furthermore, in partnership with the Philippines Department of Education, Manila’s 290,000 public-school students will be provided free email addresses and free Microsoft 365 accounts, giving them access to global education programs.

Manila residents will also have the opportunity to learn new digital, in-demand job skills through Microsoft’s skilling platforms such as LinkedIn, Github, MS Grounded and more.

The second partnership area will modernize Manila’s LGU workplace.

Microsoft and the City of Manila are presently engaged in a trial exercise to provide Microsoft Workplace to the City’s leadership team across all 54 of its executive departments.

Both Microsoft and Manila will conduct extensive internal training sessions to upskill City leaders on the new digital platform, to improve inter-department collaboration, foster greater work efficiency and improve services delivery to Manila residents, investors and visitors.

The last partnership area is enhancing and promoting data-driven policies and governance. Microsoft will provide access to Government-specific resources and expertise in Artificial Intelligence and map horizons for future digital plans.

“To govern a modern global city in 2021 – especially through the worst public health and economic crisis of our lifetimes – demands we think, lead, manage and govern in new ways,” Mayor Domagoso underscored.

However, “Creating smarter cities is more than just about devices and sensors,” Ortola added.

“It’s about creating an environment that allows every citizen to connect with the city and the city with every citizen,” he concluded.

 
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