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HCMC keen on using artificial intelligence to advance urban development

By Manh Tung   September 26, 2019 | 05:07 am PT
HCMC keen on using artificial intelligence to advance urban development
Ho Chi Minh City's District 2, the city's socio-economic hub in the near future, seen from above, September 12, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
HCMC authorities say they are keen on optimally using artificial intelligence to serve its development needs and have sought experts’ help.

They are hoping to find the shortest way to apply AI on a large scale and need a model that most suits the city's current infrastructure.

The model should also be able to create a connection among the four factors for development, which are the city’s administration, businesses, scientists who study the application of AI, and investors in AI projects, the city's Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said at a conference Wednesday.

"The success of studying and applying AI will depend much on this connection, especially considering the fact that small, medium and even micro enterprises make up 98 percent of businesses in the city," he said.

The city also needs to map out plans to train staff for AI development and application and is calling for investments in such programs.

"The human resource that is not yet ready to catch up with the Industry 4.0 era is one of the weak points that will hold back the research and application of AI.

"The application of AI into businesses’ production and residents’ daily life of HCMC is still a long way behind many other cities in the world," Phong said.

The government has identified studying and application of AI as one of the key areas for boosting economic development in the Industry 4.0 era.

For HCMC, the nation’s biggest city and economic hub, projects applying AI will belong to an investment stimulus program in which investors are allowed to access bank loans of up to VND100 billion ($4.3 million) at preferential interest rates for each project.

Vu Hai Quan, deputy director of Vietnam National University-HCMC, said at the conference that it was necessary to add AI information into the syllabi, from primary to high schools.

"HCMC could also learn from Singapore, handing the task of connecting institutions and companies in the field of AI with students to the university. The city could also join hands with the university to build a center for studying and training staff for AI projects," he said.

In order to become a magnet of private investment and realize its dream of having a digital economy and becoming an innovation hub of the region, HCMC should make itself more attractive and livable to lure talented people, said Ousmane Dione, Country Director for the World Bank in Vietnam.  

Many foreign experts attending the conference presented the AI models applied by governments of several developed countries.

The results those governments have achieved can be seen as all public policies have been built based on data and are all timely, adaptive and purposeful, their laborers work more productively and effectively, and all public services are made faster and meet more individual demand.

In August, the city inaugurated an artificial intelligence-powered center to simulate and predict socioeconomic patterns and trends. The center will first build models to predict future socio-economic patterns for the southern metropolis until 2025, with a vision until 2030.

HCMC first talked about its ambitions to apply AI in development at a meeting in March.

Its leaders believe that as an economic hub with a large population of more than 10 million, HCMC has enough conditions to set up a center for studying and applying AI.

The city's party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan said in the March meeting that the city’s budget can be used to implement AI projects, but the money should be spent wisely and reasonably.

As planned, the city will propose the AI master plan to the government soon so that it can be implemented at the earliest.

"If we want to make HCMC a smart city and enter the Industry 4.0 era, we have to study and apply AI," its party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan said then.

In 2017, the city started implementing a master plan to transform itself into a smart city by 2020.

The goal of this ambitious plan is to use scientific advances to solve problems including rapid population growth, unsustainable economic growth, inadequate forecasting, planning and management, poor health, education and transport, pollution and weak public administration.

The plan will focus on creating a better living environment for the city’s residents.

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