Digital Cities 2025: A Hopeful Initiative to Look Forward after this Pandemic

All of us are excited about going back to our new normal lives. We imagine ourselves going outside without masks on, travelling to places without worrying of quarantine passes or medical certificates, or just visiting friends and families we haven’t seen in a while. We all miss those moments and we can’t wait when this pandemic will be over. 

But there is hopeful news to look forward to in the post-COVID era. Did you know there was a recent partnership between the government and private sector naming 25 new “digital cities” last June to support the Philippine economy amidst the ongoing health crisis and promote countryside development? This initiative forms part of the National ICT Month 2020 Celebration under DICT with the banner of “Maximizing ICT for the New Normal”.

READ: A look at the Financial Crises in the Philippine Real Estate Sector

Digital Cities 2025 Program

The Digital Cities 2025 is the flagship initiative of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) which aims to drive inclusive growth in the countryside by selecting 25 high-potential cities and transforming them into a bustling IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) hubs within a span of five years. It hopes to strategically boost connectivity, digital education, and economic opportunities in the countryside and encourage Filipinos to work and settle in their provinces. 

These 25 cities were chosen using a scorecard developed by Department and Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) as well as insights provided by Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) that were based on a set of parameters reflecting priority areas for investors and locators i.e talent availability, infrastructure, cost, and business environment.

How will this impact urban development?

According to the press release, the overarching goal of these so-called “digital cities” is to transform the Philippines into a more digitally-equipped nation that will place itself in a better position to compete internationally and become one of the premier investment destinations in the world. Notably, it hopes to attract an estimated P70 billion in investments from business process outsourcing companies and enable full utilisation of the potentials of ICT through the following five focused programs. 

  • Digital Government
  • Digital Classrooms
  • Digital Workplace
  • Digital Workforce
  • Digital Communities

This movement also aligns with the Government’s Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa Program under Executive Order No. 114.

Learning on Thailand’s Digital Smart City

Thailand, our Southeast Asian neighbour, also has Digital Smart City initiatives of its own. In 2019, Thailand’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and a major multinational tech company gathered to sign a memorandum of cooperation to support the important roadmap of the country in pushing Digital Smart City in the ASEAN region

It hopes to jointly develop a digital authentication and verification system for online transaction services which will help make electronic transactions faster, more convenient and more efficient.

Benefits of Digital Cities 2025 to the Provinces

At its core, a Digital City is about efficiency. These twenty cities have exhibited significant changes within their localities, and these significant changes include:

Overall boost in economic growth

Digital cities are best positioned to accommodate growing populations, boost telecommunication facilities, modernize public transportation, and provide everyone a greater standard of living. It shall serve as business and innovation hubs within its region to draw in investments that can be expected to create more jobs and other economic opportunities in areas outside the Metro areas. 

Increase in employment and commercial activity

The more people invest in digital cities, the more likely businesses and companies will be able to draw the people they need to succeed. It aims to enable each location to grow into Centers of Excellence that spur the development of other business sectors, decongest Metro Manila, create jobs, and boost the local economy. It also foresees a surge in the BPO demand once the COVID situation settles. Interestingly, the real estate industry is seen to have the potential not only to shape the evolution of Digital Cities, but also be one of the key beneficiaries of this.

Improvement in the quality of lives among communities

Lastly, the program will be instrumental in the country’s recovery from this health crisis. These digital cities will help promote local participation in order to improve the quality of lives among communities as well as strengthen local economies and governance systems after COVID. The program also created a digital portal called “DigitalCitiesPH” which will provide investors and locators a comprehensive overview of the city/municipality’s investment landscape, offering strategic insights for current and prospective investors/locators. More so, each city profile provides key information on talent, infrastructure, cost and business environment. 

You can check your City/Municipality here:

PS. The announcement of the 25 Digital Cities was livestreamed via the DICT’s official Facebook page on June 30, 2020. Watch it here.

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