In this post, we will share some insights from an interview with Charles Lin, the Deputy Mayor of Kaohsiung City Government, who shared his vision and strategy of making Kaohsiung a smart city. Charles Lin was the Deputy Mayor of Taipei City as well, known for his vision with smart cities and is also the person who makes Smart City Summit & Expo (SCSE) possible.
Kaohsiung is the second-largest city in Taiwan and a major hub for heavy industry and now is also a city that is embracing the smart city concept and transforming itself into a more livable, sustainable and innovative place.
One of the main focus areas for Kaohsiung’s smart city development is smart manufacturing. Lin said that heavy industry is the core industry in Kaohsiung, and that the city has a strong advantage in this field. He mentioned that one of the world’s largest manufacturers in the semiconductor industry, TSMC is building its new fabrication plant in Kaohsiung.
“We want to make our manufacturing industry smarter, greener and more competitive. We want to use technologies such as IoT, AI, big data and cloud computing to optimize our production processes, reduce our energy consumption and carbon emissions, enhance our product quality and innovation, and create more value-added services,” he said.
Lin also said that smart manufacturing is not only beneficial for the industry itself, but also for the city as a whole. “Smart manufacturing can create more jobs, attract more talent, increase our tax revenue, improve our environment and boost our reputation. It can also drive the development of other related industries, such as logistics, education, tourism and culture,” he said.
Lin acknowledged that while the goal of smart cities is to enable a better and smarter living environment for the people, Kaohsiung’s smart city development cannot be done alone by the city government. He said that the support from the central government and the innovative solutions from the participating companies is crucial for the progress. He especially emphasized the importance of regulations, which can either enable or hinder innovation.
“Regulations are necessary to ensure safety, quality and accountability but they should also be flexible and adaptive to accommodate new technologies and business models. Failure can happen, but the government should be open to exploration and experimentation on new ideas and innovations from both big corporations and tech startups. We should be able to test our technologies and see if they work for our city and our citizens,” he said.
Lin stressed that Kaohsiung’s smart city development is not only about technology, but also about people. While young generations can easily adapt to the new technology in a short time, that doesn’t apply to the elderly and less fortunate group of citizens. He said that his office aims to provide a comprehensive service package for all citizens who doesn’t have access to technology or not familiar with it, especially those who are elderly or in need. He said that one of the initiatives to tackle this is via call centers that can support those who cannot use technology.
“We have a 24/7 call center that can provide information and assistance to our citizens who are not familiar with technology or who do not have access to technology. For example, they can call us to book a taxi or a doctor’s appointment, or to report a problem or request a service from the government,” he said.
Lin also said that the city government is working on improving the coverage of smart applications in Kaohsiung, especially in rural areas where internet access is limited or unreliable. He said that improving communication infrastructure is a priority. “We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of smart city services. We want to bridge the digital divide and reduce inequality in our city,” he said.