Minister wants HCMC to get smarter at ICT

By Trung Son   July 16, 2019 | 08:15 pm PT
Minister wants HCMC to get smarter at ICT
Young people surf Internet on their phones at Tao Dan Park, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Shutterstock/xuanhuongho.
The government has spelled out what it expects Ho Chi Minh City to do in terms of information and communications technology to become a smart city.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung, speaking at a conference between his ministry and Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, said the city should use information and communication technology to boost economic growth and address socioeconomic problems.

He urged it to focus on 5G, telecom services and cybersecurity.

"The deadline to launch [5G] in HCMC is 2022, so that it can be on a par with New York in terms of telecom infrastructure." He said it should be available to all industrial areas, research facilities and universities in the city.

Telecom firms should see the development of the industry as building infrastructure and "not just profits," he said.

Telecom firms Viettel and Mobifone are expected to test 5G in HCMC in September, the former at 10 different locations in District 10 and the latter at 12 locations in the central District 1 and a part of District 7.

He spoke about the entire city population using smartphones and having fiber-optical Internet. Now 60 percent of Saigonese are smartphone owners, which he deemed "a low number."

"Without these two items, we cannot call Ho Chi Minh City a smart city since e-government provides information and public services to everyone, all the time, everywhere."

"The city must be ahead in cybersecurity. If there is no safety, nobody would dare to join the digital revolution since it would be very risky."

HCMC's party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan said at the conference that in the process of building a smart city and applying AI technologies, the city with 10 million residents cannot develop everything at the same time and must instead focus its resources on a key area, which in this case is an urban innovation hub in its east.

Last year city authorities announced plans for such an area straddling Districts 2, 9 and Thu Duc, which would help make Saigon a smart city.

Nhan said this area, which has 10 percent of the city’s population and area, would spearhead the city’s growth. It has the highest rate of training and research resources and technology use and is expected to contribute 30 percent of the city’s GDP, he said.

"In the near future the city will seek ministries’ opinions on how to develop this innovation hub."

He said city authorities should seek a "giant" data digitization strategy in the next seven years from the Ministry of Information and Communications.

He pointed to an agreement between the city and the ministry earlier this year, which helped successfully handle malicious code attacks on several government agencies and bolster cybersecurity in HCMC.

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