29 August 2019 | SINGAPORE – UCLG ASPAC contributed in the Safe Cities Summit 2019, an event organised by The Economist.  UCLG ASPAC Secretary General, Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, together with international level policymakers, executives, experts and entrepreneurs, shared insights through discussions on safe and resilient cities, cybersecurity, transport and infrastructure, crime prevention, and the health and well-being of urbanites.

In her remarks, Secretary General Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi invited participants to view “safety” as a holistic issue.  She elaborated that “It is not merely about putting street lamps. It is about the rights of citizens to breathe clean air and live in a comfortable and secure environment.”  She acknowledged that local governments only made small allocations for safety and called for significant improvement in this area.  Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO, an artificial intelligence (AI) solutions firm and incubator, discussed the important element in city development noting that “You can’t build cities anymore without using data and AI, but the issue governments need to consider is governance.”  Access to public housing is other area raised by Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director of the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) of the Ministry of National Development of Singapore.  In the context of Singapore, he shared that 82 percent of the population have access to public houses, which is fenceless and based on open communities where one can walk from one flat to another.

The use of technology for safer cities, while having positive contribution, does not come without challenges.  Mohammad Ramdhan Pomanto, former Mayor of Makassar (Indonesia) mentioned that “In Makassar, a network of CCTV Cameras helps keep the city safe, citizens aren’t concerned about privacy issues because they have a strict data protection act.” “However, people in Indonesia in general are concerned about privacy.  Cases of cybercrime have been increasing.  How big data is used is a concern.”  The same idea was also mentioned by Kalpana Viswanath, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Safetipin, cautioned that “Technology like CCTV, enhanced by data analytics and AI has helped, but at the cost of loss of privacy.  Who watches the watchers?“  Allan Chiang, former Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong, mentioned, “Privacy is a fundamental human right, and it is more important now as technology advances. … Governments should consider proportionality and transparency when it comes to balancing safety and privacy.”

Some speakers raised concerns over cybersecurity risks in Asia. Mary Jo Schrade, Assistant General Counsel of Digital Crimes Unit Lead of Microsoft, said that “In Asia, people do not update their software when updates come up, especially for small and medium enterprises and individuals, so infection rates are really high.”  Stella Carmer, Head of Technology and Innovation Asia-Pacific, Norton Rose Fulbright, further added that “In Asia what we are seeing is the sophistication of the attackers, but we are not seeing pre-emptive measures to be cyber-ready.”  In relation to the investment made in cities, Isabel Chatterton, Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure and Natural Resources, International Finance Corporation, shared some key considerations: “Prioritise investment with the highest return, and right-sizing the project.”

In this event, Safe Cities Index 2019 was also presented. Tokyo (score: 92.0) topped the list, followed by Singapore (91.5) and Osaka (90.9).  The Safe Cities Index 2019 recorded this year has been the third time for Tokyo remaining in the first position.

CLICK HERE For access on Safe Cities Index 2019.