Urban Transformation in Emerging Asia: Digitalization for Resilient Cities

Key Learnings from “Cities and The City | Foundation Town Hall: Cities Beat COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought countries all over the world at a standstill. Lockdowns have been imposed. Companies forced to adopt work from home setup. Schools have been suspended or transitioned into online classes. But most importantly, our usual day-to-day routine has been disrupted.

Now, we’re faced with trying to find a “New Normal” in light of the pandemic, making one wonder: how can the world be better coordinated again?

Good City Foundation hosted an online webinar “Cities and The City | Foundation Town Hall: Cities Beat COVID-19 last April 10, 2020. A diverse set of speakers from different industries in the public and private sectors spoke in the webinar, including World Bank IFC, ASEAN Smart Cities Network, City Governments, Startups and Institutes. The webinar explored the needs and challenges faced during the pandemic and how different startups are working to solve these issues in the next 18-Months for “Global Development Runway”.

Panel Speakers of the Town Hall

Digital Collaboration Will Go A Farther Way

As Mr. Nugraha Amijaya, City Government of Bandung in Indonesia shared, “Global collaboration can help cities all over the world fight against the pandemic.”

We need to think about how to mitigate the situation. Innovative startups are looking into the situation, coming up with solutions, and collaborating with the government and other institutions to fight against the virus. By working together, startups can help enable the government with more capacities and sustain the needs of the people.

DIY Academy and Foundation Training Program

One example is the work being done by DIY Academy and Foundation in Indonesia, founded by one of the speakers Mr. Wahyu Taufiq. They’re working to empower students and universities for a new online learning normal. Online courses that the students are interested in can be transferred to real university credits. They are also collaborating with different institutions that can provide students with degrees. There will be long term transformation in the Indonesian education system, enabling students to study in the comfort of their own homes.

Knowledge Exchange and Shared Value Business Technological Transformation

Sharing what we, as startups and industry leaders, know and giving suggestions can help fight against COVID-19. It can not only improve the way the public sector is tackling the current situation but it’s also something that can be adapted in the long run.

PearlPay team at a rural bank in Pangasinan

PearlPay is another vivid digital case study in digitizing rural banks in the Philippines to help people get access to financial services. “The more pressing problem right now is poverty. People are starving and are also more at risk of getting infected,” said Chief Strategy Officer Ms. Precious Silva. “The Government is providing cash aid but how can you allocate it to more than 100 million people?”

Rural banks are more scattered than commercial banks and are in a better position to help distribute the cash aid to the public. By informing people on how digitalization can help improve communities and helping rural banks digitize their market reach allow Filipinos, particularly those in the vulnerable sector, to get access to the cash aid without putting them at risk.

It’s important to focus on the response and look at how we could learn from the crisis. It makes us rethink the issue of resiliency. We can’t just go back to usual but to work on how we can adapt the best practices so that we can be better prepared and be more resilient in the future.

Shaping Projects for ASEAN Smart Cities

The private sector has been instrumental: providing innovative and creative solutions that can help during the pandemic. And in a rapidly globalizing world, which has seen more innovations in all fields, where the future of economic activity will be shaped by Industry 4.0 and the focus is on citizens and their overall physical and mental well-being, there is a greater need for innovation.

Good City Foundation is a founding committee(protem) of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network Private Sector Committee, to be officially approved and announced this year. We’re looking to connect innovative urban solutions and startups in the private sector and help increase opportunities with promising development in emerging cities Southeast Asia. We will be holding an E-Forum for Private Sector in Smart City Development, part of ASCN 2020 in Vietnam. If you’re interested, you can send project proposals here or contact us at community@goodcityfoundation.org.