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  • Writer's pictureZiggurat Realestatecorp

Information, communication key to urban planning

Data gathering and input from residents are keys to effective urban planning, said a visiting expert on Monday.

"A smart city is a territory — town, city, province, region — that uses information and communication technology to collect data and then use the insight gained from that data to plan and manage its resources, assets and services efficiently," said Asia Development Bank urban development specialist Dr. Nathaniel von Einsiedel during the Model Cities and Municipalities 2023 forum.

"Smart city technology allows government officials to interact directly with both the community and infrastructure, and to monitor what is happening to the city and how the city is evolving," he added.

Von Einsiedel cited the scarcity of sanitary landfills that affect waste disposal in Philippine cities and the possible solution to the problem.

"The problem that many local government units have is that they cannot afford to have their own sanitary landfill," he said.

A recent Commission on Audit report said that 29.25 percent, or only 478 of the 1,634 local LGUs in the country, have access to sanitary landfills despite a steady increase in generated solid waste.

[Records showed the country generated 16.63 million tons of solid waste in 2020 from 9.07 million tons in 2000.]

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said that around 300 sanitary landfills are being targeted to be established nationwide starting in 2022 through a public-private partnership.

Von Einsiedel said clustering plays an important role in waste management when employing the concept of a smart city.

"You can also convert waste to energy by clustering your waste disposal system," he added.

He said the top initiatives for smart cities are improving mobility, reducing congestion, better digital services, funding, talent, investment and safety.

He added that disaster risk management should also be a top priority, citing how Marikina City employs efficient disaster risk management.

Von Einsiedel said that people should be the most important element in urban planning because cities are made up of people.

"As we consider the city of the 21st century, we do well to remember that the things we love most about cities — parks, public places, neighborhood communities, local culture — are made and populated by people, not technology. Technology has a place in cities, but that place is not everywhere," he added.

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