A Filipino city will join 35 other cities around the world as the sole representative of Southeast Asia in a global initiative for digital innovation. 

The City of Manila was chosen as a “pioneer city” for the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance. Developed by the World Economic Forum and G20, the alliance aims to empower city leaders through the creation of policies for good governance, digital development, citizens’ privacy and security, and diversity. 

Manila’s participation in the alliance was facilitated by LAB.PH, the technology consulting arm of the Roxas-Kalaw Foundation for the Eradication of Poverty, and the Good City Foundation, a Hong Kong-based multilateral development organization focused on policy formation, technology adoption, and business and investment opportunities in developing countries. 

“Time is of the essence given the challenges we need to overcome this year, on top of the ones we already encounter on a yearly basis, whether they be acts of God or types of poverty. As a country, we need to flip the script and let the cities lead the way. This will have a trickle-up effect to provide the national government with the quality of data needed to make more well-informed decisions, as well as a trickle-down effect to directly benefit its community members in a tailored fashion – all while being able to measure the impact of their respective interventions,” said Mel Songco, chief executive officer of LAB.PH, in a press statement. 

Together with the other cities and experts, the Manila local government unit (LGU) will design and adopt policies that ensure safety through cybersecurity, streamline coordination for wider and enhanced connectivity, and improve the accessibility of digital services for the elderly and disabled, among others.  

Through these policies, the LGU also hopes to attract more foreign and local investments to help develop the city. These will complement their other initiatives such as vertical housing programs and the introduction of an online payment system for taxes, bills, and documents.

“The city is honored to share our policies alongside progressive nations and to help improve our methods through collaboration and adopting technology to help face any present or future adversity,” said Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, mayor of Manila City, in a press statement. 

The 36 pioneer cities are: Apeldoorn, Netherlands; Barcelona, Spain; Belfast, UK; Bengaluru, India; Bilbao, Spain; Bogotá, Colombia; Brasilia, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Chattanooga, US; Cordoba, Argentina; Daegu, South Korea; Dubai, UAE; eThekwini (Durban), South Africa; Faridabad, India; Gaziantep, Turkey; Hamamatsu, Japan; Hyderabad, India; Indore, India; Istanbul, Turkey; Kaga, Japan; Kakogawa, Japan; Kampala, Uganda; Karlsruhe, Germany; Leeds, UK; Lisbon, Portugal; London, UK; Maebashi, Japan; Manila, Philippines; Medellín, Colombia; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City, Mexico; Milan, Italy; Moscow, Russia; Newcastle, Australia; San José, US; and Toronto, Canada. — Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo