04/08/2013, 00.00
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Two out of seven of the world’s "smartest" cities in Taiwan

by Xin Yage
Taichung and Taoyuan home to thousands of high-tech industries. Each year their universities produce more than 25 thousand young hopefuls. Both are a model for the world economy in crisis. They will compete for the Intelligent Community Forum (Icf) for the best city in the world for business development and innovative ideas.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Thousands of companies worldwide, a broadband network that reaches millions of people, 15 universities that churn out over 25 thousand graduates a year: These are some of the characteristics of the cities of Taichung and Taoyuan, among the seven finalists in the running for the prize of the most intelligent communities in the world. The announcement was released on April 5 by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a non-profit institute for political research. The two Taiwanese cities in will compete together with Columbus (Ohio, United States), Oulu (Finland), Stratford (Canada), Tallinn (Estonia), and Toronto, Canada.

Each year the ICF chooses from 400 communities throughout the globe for the best development of new businesses and young people's participation in the economy. To be selected cities must ensure a high level of public access to digital technology and the economy linked to it. According to ICF criteria, "an intelligent community perceives the challenges of the new economy, it is always on alert for possible crisis and searches for solutions to address them." The organization does not consider the average level of economic growth as fundamental, considering it misleading, but the ideas that can become a model for other cities.

Located in the central region of the island of Taiwan, over the years Taichung has managed to create thousands of spaces with wireless internet and a fiber-optic network for broadband reaches more than 90% of the population. The development of this technology has been achieved thanks to the collaboration with communications companies and its charismatic and enterprising Mayor Jason Hu (胡志强), always present in the media with new and innovative ideas. The city also helps farmers in the province to improve their profits by expanding into international markets. Taichung is the backbone of the network of 1500 manufacturers of precision machines and tens of thousands of small businesses that can take advantage of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a management system that integrates all the business processes of each company ( sales, purchasing, inventory management, accounting). Added to the ERP is the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), a particular device based in Taichung port that automates the entry and exit of containers avoiding traffic jams and any waste of fuel.

Taoyuan is instead on the north-western coast of Taiwan and has an international airport. On its own, the city is a formidable industrial hub, with more than 24 industrial parks, 44 thousand enterprises and 10 thousand factories. The province is home to 15 universities, with 25 thousand students graduating each year. It has the youngest average age among inhabitants in the whole Taiwan.

Lydia Tsai (蔡沛芬), a researcher who studies new urban developments at the National University of Taiwan (国立 台湾 大学), says: "When you consider the very high density of population on the island, second only to that of Bangladesh, we are driven to find intelligent solutions combining development and livability". According to the scholar, the nominations for the award are a great recognition and further incentive to continue improving.


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