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Lunch with Taipei Mayor Ko

The ECCT hosted its annual Premium Event round table lunch with the Taipei City Government (TCG) featuring Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je as the guest of honour. As in previous years, the event provided an exclusive opportunity for ECCT members to discuss issues of concern or mutual interest with the mayor and a full delegation of senior TCG cabinet officials, who were in attendance and seated among members at various tables at the venue.
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In his speech to members Mayor Ko began by praising the development models of countries in Europe which he had learnt about in his recent trip to four European countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Turkey. He noted that there is a lot Taiwan could learn from Europe's blend of capitalism and socialism, which allows for free market economic development but also provides a strong social safety net. He welcomed the opportunity for more cooperation with the ECCT.

He went on to share a success story of a European retail company that had recently started operating in the city. At the time the company was starting to plan for their opening he said that he gave them two contact numbers: one for his own office and one for the city's Invest Taipei Office (ITO), set up by the city's Department of Economic Development that offers one-stop customised service to deal with the various requirements for setting up businesses in Taipei City. He told the executives in charge that if there were any problems with ITO they could call him. He reported that he never received a call, by which he assumed that the ITO had resolved all problems. He extended the offer made to that company to other ECCT members to call him if problems related to doing business in the city are not resolved through the city's regular administrative channels.

After the Mayor's speech Saimon Ko (Poh-shi), Sub-division Chief of the city's Department of Information Technology, gave a presentation on the Smart City Summit and Expo scheduled for 27-30 March. It is the largest IoT and smart city tradeshow in Asia that has been held annually since 2014. Attendance rose three-fold in the first four years.

At last year's summit, 54 leaders, decision makers and stakeholders from 29 cities attended including mayors from the US, the UK, France, The Netherlands, Italy, India, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Israel, Hungary, Serbia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico.

The 2017 Expo attracted 15 major telecom operators from the US, France, Poland, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Paraguay and China.

The 2018 summit aims to attract 25,000 visitors from 30 countries. This year's expo will add the new themes of smart healthcare, buildings and transportation along with education, commerce and security. Some of the technologies and solutions to be highlighted are autonomous buses and the use of block chain technologies. Taipei is already test-running autonomous buses and has teamed up with the IOTA Foundation to explore using block chain technology for citizen identification.

In the Q&A session following the presentation, Mayor Ko gave extensive answers to questions raised by ECCT members. On a question about developing the arts in the city, the mayor said that there are plans to convert space soon to be vacated by AIT into a library and concert hall. He also mentioned plans for a new art museum.

On a question about environmental protection, the mayor said the city is leading by example by first banning the use of disposable utensils at city hall, before extending the policy to schools and beyond.

On the subject of putting smart technologies into practice, Mayor Ko said that the city had allocated a special budget to install smart technologies, such as smart metres, in the city's 12,000 public housing units. By investing in these technologies the city is supporting the development of the local industry, which he said could gain experience from working in a subtropical climate, which would be useful for their business expansion in southern and Southeast Asia.

He added that the city can support the development of smart health given its control of many municipal hospitals in the city. The same applies to smart education given around 300 schools in the city. The mayor added that good control of the city's finances, including paying off a large portion of the city's debt, has given the city the scope to improve smart transport facilities such as shared bicycles, cars and smart parking. He added that his plan to introduce a package for unlimited use of city transport for NT$1,280 per month is part of the city's plan to increase the use of public transport, reduce the use of private transport. The mayor said that in order to improve traffic congestion and air quality it is first necessary to give something away before one can start taking things away. The strategy is to first offer citizens the incentive to increase their use of public transport before introducing measures to discourage private transport such as reducing the number of parking spaces and raising parking fees.

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