PHILIPPINES – Where Cities are Ready to Become SMART.

As the Philippines races towards a SMART future, its cities are transforming with innovation and connectivity. But the pivotal question lingers: Is the Philippines prepared to fully embrace its SMART potential?

How Smart is the Philippines?

A Closer Look at Urban Innovation

The Philippines has made notable strides in the realm of technology. While it may not yet match the technology prowess of more developed nations, the country’s progress is promising.

  • Internet Speed: According to the Speedtest Global Index, as of 2023, the Philippines ranks 79th out of 180 countries in terms of internet speed, with an average download speed of 33.39Mbps, showcasing significant improvement from its previous rank.

  • Mobile Phone Penetration: The Mobile phone penetration in the Philippines is at approximately 70% of the population, as reported in the Digital 2021 Philippines, indicating the widespread adoption of mobile technology as a communication tool and access to the internet.

  • E-commerce: The COVID-19 pandemic has driven substantial growth in the e-commerce sector in the Philippines, resulting in a 3.4% increase in the e-commerce market’s value. The market now stands at USD 12 billion, as reported by ZhenHub.

  • Research and Development: The Philippines ranked 59th in the 2022 Global Innovation Index (GII), sliding down eight places from its 2021 ranking. Hence, the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) is eyeing a PHP16.13 billion budget allocation for research and development (R&D) projects from 2022 to 2024 to cope with this downslide.
  • Education and Skills: The “Sulong Edukalidad” initiative by the Department of Education aims to innovate the Philippines’ education system, focusing on enhancing the quality of education, improving access to technology and digital resources, and upskilling university professors.
  • Cybersecurity: The Philippines faces evolving cybersecurity challenges, with increasing threats to critical infrastructure and data security. The country is actively addressing these challenges through allocating more funds in cyber security, as highlighted in the report by PHILIPPINE CYBERSECURITY MARKET.
  • Government Support: The Philippine government has implemented various initiatives to support economic development and innovation, as highlighted by RTI International. These initiatives include tax incentives, research grants, and infrastructure development to encourage technological advancement.
  • Startups: The Philippines has a burgeoning startup ecosystem with dozens of startups and support organizations, as reported by StartupBlink. This ecosystem fosters entrepreneurship and innovation, contributing to the country’s technology landscape.
  • Artificial Intelligence: AI is on the horizon, with government initiatives backing research and development in this vital field.
  • Digital Divide: According to Philstar, an approved 5-year Philippine Development Plan will prioritize the boosting of connectivity and the digitization of public services and bureaucratic processes as one of the key strategies.
  • Cloud Computing: Cloud computing in the Philippines is poised for growth, as reported by the Manila Bulletin. Alibaba Cloud will be launching its first data center in the Philippines by the end of this year as part of an aggressive US$1-billion plan to expand its presence across Southeast Asia.
  • Smart Cities: the concept of smart cities is gaining traction in the Philippines. The ASCN has initially identified 26 pilot cities, which for the Philippines include Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City. 


Top Smart Cities in the World


Since the inception of its Smart Nation initiative in 2014, Singapore has implemented an extensive array of intelligent technologies across both its public and private domains.


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 Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki targets carbon neutrality by 2035, with a 27% emissions reduction since 1990, plans to cut traffic emissions by 69%, transition to electric buses, and improve building energy efficiency, all while increasing renewable energy use.

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 Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich started with smart streetlights, saving up to 70% energy. They expanded to include various sensors for data collection, traffic monitoring, public WiFi, and an efficient building management system.


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Advantages of Smart Cities

Smart cities can offer numerous benefits to Philippine cities, helping improve the quality of life for residents, enhance sustainability, and boost economic growth. Here are some ways in which smart city initiatives can benefit Philippine cities:

  1. Improved Infrastructure: Smart cities can modernize infrastructure, including transportation, utilities, and public services. This can lead to better road networks, efficient public transportation systems, and upgraded utilities such as water and electricity.
  2. Enhanced Mobility: Smart transportation systems can reduce traffic congestion and make commuting more convenient. Features like real-time traffic monitoring, smart traffic lights, and integrated public transportation systems can reduce travel times and improve air quality.
  3. Safety and Security: Smart city technologies can enhance safety and security through the use of surveillance cameras, emergency response systems, and smart lighting. These measures can help reduce crime rates and improve emergency response times.
  4. Environmental Sustainability: Smart cities can implement eco-friendly solutions like waste management systems, energy-efficient buildings, and renewable energy sources. These efforts can reduce pollution, conserve resources, and combat climate change.
  5. Digital Services: Citizens can benefit from digital government services, such as online payments, e-governance platforms, and digital access to information. These services can streamline administrative processes and make government more accessible.

6. Economic Growth: Smart cities can attract businesses and investments by offering a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. High-tech infrastructure and a skilled workforce can drive economic development.

7. Quality of Life: Smart cities prioritize the well-being of residents. Features like smart healthcare, education, and public spaces can enhance the overall quality of life by making essential services more accessible and efficient.

8. Tourism and Livability: Attractive and well-maintained smart cities can boost tourism, generating revenue and creating jobs. Additionally, enhanced livability can encourage people to settle in these cities.

9. Data-Driven Decision-Making: Smart cities rely on data analytics to make informed decisions. This can lead to better urban planning, resource allocation, and policy implementation, ultimately benefiting the community.

10. Resilience: Smart cities are often better prepared for disasters and emergencies. Early warning systems, disaster response coordination, and resilient infrastructure can help cities recover more quickly from natural disasters.

“Visualize a nation where ENGINEERS paves the way for a smarter, more connected Philippines”

Exciting developments are unfolding across the Philippines as cities dive into the world of smart technology. From the bustling streets of Metro Manila to the vibrant landscapes of Metro Cebu and more, cities are on a mission to upgrade their operations.

In Manila, they’re using cutting-edge tech to enhance government services, making life more convenient for residents. Over in Cebu, there’s a focus on improving public transportation, ensuring it’s efficient and environmentally friendly. And in Davao, they’re not just revamping transportation but also boosting security with smart systems.

Even in the other fourteen cities within Metro Manila, impressive strides are being made. They’re setting up special centers to handle emergencies, using technology to enhance healthcare and education, and shoring up cybersecurity.

The Philippines is certainly embracing innovation, striving to create a brighter, more connected future. It’s an intriguing journey into the world of smart cities in the Philippines!

As an aspiring engineer and tech enthusiast in the Philippines, YOU have a remarkable role to play in shaping the nation’s technological future. The data and trends clearly indicate that the Philippines is on an upward trajectory in technology. By pursuing careers in STEM fields, embracing innovation, and leveraging your skills, YOU can actively contribute to making the Philippines smarter, more connected, and become a beacon of technological advancement in the region. The future is bright, and the Philippines is poised for greatness in the world of technology!

September 29, 2023


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