‘Smart city’ initiatives can lead to a better environment in Macau

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 9:53pm

The Alibaba Group will collaborate with the Macau government to turn Macau into a “smart city” with the use of cloud computer technologies. This is welcome news to Macau residents as it brings the hope of creating more a sustainable environment in our city.

I am particularly interested in the suggested use of artificial intelligence to optimise transport management, as traffic congestion has been one of Macau’s ingrained problems. Based on information from different resources, it is clear that urban mobility is important. There needs to be a reduction in car use and ownership as well as increases in cycling, and public and shared transport.

I would like to see the adoption of a digital car-sharing system, which enables people to share the use of a car without having to own one. The individual members of the car-sharing community will have their complementary driving needs identified by an advanced algorithm that uses social profiling and geo-location.

An app will help one locate the nearest of the vehicles parked on the city’s streets. After use, the car can simply be parked within a designated area in the city for the next user. The members can thus enjoy the freedom and benefits the car affords without shouldering the huge costs that come with single ownership. They also play a shared role in reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion.

I am also in favour of a bicycle-sharing system. It offers an even better solution to traffic congestion, and noise and air pollution problems by providing access to bicycles as an alternative to motorised vehicles.

Bikes can also connect users to public transit networks, thus solving what is often known as the “last mile” problem. What’s more, e-bikes could be a new tourist attraction, enabling visitors to travel round the city easily. As with car sharing, it would be very convenient, with smartphone mapping apps to show the locations with available bikes.

However, whether Macau will become a smart city depends very much on government policies and the support of residents.

I hope the measures I have outlined will be backed by the government, as they can lead to improvements in the current transport systems and so contribute to Macau having a better environment.

Angela Chong, Macau