29 August 2019 | SINGAPORE – In the pursuant of cities’ sustainable development, the awareness to make cities safer is also increasing. 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.

Addressing the challenge, Secretary General Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi invited participants to view “safety” as a holistic issue. Inviting participants to see its importance, she further explored, “It is not merely about putting street lamps, but it is about the rights of citizens to breathe clean air and live in a comfortable and secure environment.” Saying this, however, she acknowledged that local governments only made small allocations for safety. Talking about building a city, Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO, an artificial intelligence (AI) solutions firm and incubator, mentioned, “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 pointed by Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Liveable Cities, Ministry of National Development (Singapore). In the context of Singapore, he shared that 82% of the population have access to public house, which is fenceless and based on open communities where one can walk from one flat to the next.

The use of technology for safer cities, while having positive contribution, also has challenges. Mohammad Ramdhan Pomanto, former Mayor of Makassar (Indonesia) mentioned, “In Makassar, a network of CCTV Cameras help to keep the city safe, but citizens aren’t concerned about privacy issues because they have a strict data protection act.” However, “People in Indonesia 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, Safetipin, “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, 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.”

Talking about technology, some speakers mentioned threats they found in Asia region. Mary Jo Schrade, Assistant General Counsel, Digital Crimes Unit Lead, Asia, Microsoft, said, “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, Technology and Innovation Asia-Pacific, Norton Rose Fulbright, added further, “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.

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