By Patricia Mirasol

The City of Manila has inked a partnership with Microsoft Philippines to support the automation and computerization of its city processes. The three partnership areas are for the creation of resident digital identification cards (IDs); the modernization of government workplaces; and the optimization of GO Manila, an official app with features such as real property payments.

“The City of Manila has taken on an enormous challenge in their ambition to become a smart city, and we look forward to working closely with them to support their transformation efforts and, hopefully, to inspire and assist other government units and agencies across the Philippines as well,” said Andres Ortola, country general manager of Microsoft Philippines, in a press statement.

Microsoft is also working with over 1,000 other local government units (LGUs) to improve their digital infrastructure and citizen services. The work, said Joanna V. Rodriguez, Microsoft Philippines’ public sector director, is made possible through collaborations with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), and various organizations.

“Microsoft proactively engages with both national and local government units to explore partnership opportunities,” Ms. Rodriguez told BusinessWorld in an e-mail. “With the City of Manila, we were approached by the administrative team initially.”

Among the city’s two million residents are the poorest 350,000, many of whom do not have formal identification. The digital IDs initiative is envisioned to empower this segment to register for benefits, job training, cash support, and education.

Manila’s modernization campaign also includes providing its public-school students and leadership team with Microsoft 365 (a subscription that has document and spreadsheet apps, among others) and Microsoft Workplace (a solution that streamlines work tasks and communications), respectively.

Microsoft’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) Business School for Government, a learning path that illustrates the impact of AI in the public sector, will also be provided to improve the city’s data-driven policies and governance.

“[We will] … identify points of data interoperability within the city which can be strengthened and maximized for data governance moving forward,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

A smart city is defined as an urban area that applies various types of electronic data collection sensors to manage its assets and resources efficiently.

According to the US International Trade Administration (ITA), 17 cities in Metro Manila are advancing smart city efforts such as disaster risk mitigation, resilience management, digital health and education, and data center upgrades.

The top four cities in 2018 with the highest business revenue to invest in infrastructure development were Makati ($280 million), Manila ($209 million), Pasig ($197 million), and Quezon City ($323 million). ITA reported that these Philippine cities, including Cebu and Davao, are good prospects for firms interested in offering smart city solutions in the country.