The Ho Chi Minh City Municipal Department of Information and Communications officially launched last week the city’s ‘Digital Transformation Portal’ — a solid first step in implementing digital transformation initiatives and smart city building projects for Vietnam’s commercial capital. The portal comes with a user-friendly interface, so even non-techie users can easily understand and navigate through the website in an efficient way.
HCMC’s digital transformation portal includes an overview of the city’s digital progress, news updates, and a few specifics such as non-confidential periodical reports and national databases on population, land, business registration, finance, and insurance.
The highlight of the portal is the Hiến kế, Góp ý (suggestions) section that lets Saigon residents drop their proposals on digital transformation initiatives and strategies. This is where the portal’s main goal comes in — to enhance interactions between government agencies and residents.
For Tony, a neophyte digital media practitioner and financial advisor who got his degree in Australia, being able to have this kind of access to general information is a huge development every resident in HCMC should utilize. “I spent most of my adult years abroad,” Tony said. “Now that I’m back for good, there is a lot of basic information I need to know especially when it comes to legal matters related to financial services and new digital advancements the government is building.”
He added that this is a good sign and impressed with how HCMC is taking advantage of the digital transition. “I think the best thing about this is I get to make sure the information I am getting is legit and official since it’s coming from this portal and there’s a way for me to send my two cents to the authorities.”
Vo Thi Trung Trinh, the deputy director of the Department of Information and Communications, said that through the portal, leaders and government officials in HCMC now have the platform to be aware of the ideas, suggestions, and plans from local residents, organizations, and businesses. It’s efficient, convenient, and encouraging to the masses.
In the same way, city officials and civil servants can promptly systematize and update the municipal digital transformation documents, programs, and projects in the portal.
“Meanwhile, experts, the general public, organizations, and enterprises can access and learn information about local transformation,” the deputy director said. “They can search for applications and public services that are being provided on digital platforms and users can also send feedback and recommendations to the authorities through the site,” she said.
Taking advantage of the benefits and potential digital transformation brings is an asset for cities. This is also important for business development and job creation. On top of that, this is a way for city officials to get closer to their citizens, thus developing more integrated governance approaches at the city level. The digital sector has been and should be developed, and creating “smart cities” is another way to achieve a competitive advantage.
Earlier in March, the Department of Information and Communications initiated a plan to develop AI (artificial intelligence) apps in public administration, transport, healthcare, banking, and industries. According to the initial information about this plan, a database of all sectors will be shared among all the city’s administrative departments.
The program includes improving human resources through AI education as well as training and enhancing academic connections with foreign AI professionals.
According to a report from OpenGov, authorities have also been pushing to increase the number of startups, SMEs (small and medium enterprises), and the total investment in AI. In addition to that, businesses are being urged to deploy AI applications to enhance internal strengths and increase competitiveness.
HCMC intends to build products and apply AI with practical value, transforming the southern metropolis to become the center of Vietnam’s hub for research, development, and the transfer of applications in AI. The city also has plans to establish at least two technology innovation centers from now through 2025 to support businesses achieve fully digitized operations.
Considering all the strategies being laid out as well as the upcoming programs, HCMC is taking not just steps but leaps to fulfill the smart city goal. Focussing on local economic development, as a new way of addressing emerging societal issues, requires strong leadership, commitment, investments, and support from the people.