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Macau has all the assets and potential to become a leading “smart city” in Asia. However, according to consultants who have been studying the “smart city” concept, it needs to fully coordinate its efforts and assets to achieve this. Last week, a group of experts from Doxa Innova & Smart, a Barcelona-based strategic consultancy, visited Macau in partnership with the Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) and China Green Building and Energy Saving (Macao) Association.

The consultants reiterated the significance of having a holistic vision and department collaboration to produce a “smart city.” “What we find is that in most cities different departments of the cities work in isolation, so each of them work […] on their issues but not in a coordinated way,” said Maria Galindo, an international smart city business manager from Doxa.

According to Galindo, a region can maximize synergy by coordinating their efforts and working together in projects with different departments, stakeholders and agents. “You [then] have more resources and greater capacity for being innovative, more flexibility…and so more capacities to the whole strategic vision for the city,” she added. The team said Macau should take advantage of the ongoing innovation and technology within its reach.

The local government has included plans to turn Macau into a smart city in its Five-Year Plan. However, it currently does not have an entity to align the relevant departments. When asked whether Macau could become a smart city if the government fails to produce an entity that oversees the process, the experts replied that it could stagnate the growth in its development.

“Part of our research is to come up with a master plan [and] to help the Macau government […] to come up with a more holistic and more achievable approach to make Macau a smart city,” explained Josep-Ramon Ferrer, an international senior advisor and institutional business development director of Doxa. Currently, researchers are interviewing different government departments, stakeholders and companies to understand the smart city projects that are currently in development. Meanwhile, the consultants have agreed that the gaming industry plays a crucial role in the region’s plan of becoming a smart city.

“For the gaming industry and for the smart city program, we need to look at how we can improve the quality [of the service provided] to the tourists…So this is a big part of the smart city program progress,” said Macau-based Edmund Lei, director general of China Green Building and Energy Saving (Macao) Association.

In response to queries on what the region currently needs to effectively develop the territory into a smart city, the experts said Macau needs “a government’s model” to integrate agents, environmental stakeholders and citizens with the smart city plan.

“Without leadership, a clear road map and vision, it’s going to be difficult to achieve that goal,” said Lei. “This is important, as well as commitment. If we only do it halfway, we’ll go back to the start and all efforts will be wasted,” he concluded. The experts held a talk last week at the FDCT center, inviting guests from relevant departments.

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