By Pham Kim Son
The City of Da Nang, Vietnam, has been experiencing an exciting time of economic growth and development.
As the leader of the Da Nang Department of Information and Communications, responsible for proposing and implementing all policies on development of information and communication technology, I am proud to witness the tremendous advances underway.
But like any other city, we face challenges in finding the most innovative solutions to help our city achieve socio-economic growth and sustainable development. Importantly, we learn in this context that information is becoming increasingly significant in the exploitation and use of the city’s resources and in a more responsible and sustainable way.
As the fourth-largest city in Vietnam – a large city with beautiful beaches, abundant natural resources and a vibrant culture – our population is growing steadily. We are experiencing a high population growth rate every year. The tourism industry, trade and investments in Da Nang continue to grow alongside our population. While this economic development is invigorating our local economy, it is also providing us with new challenges that need to be solved intelligently. Our streets are becoming more crowded with traffic, and there are new strains on our water supply, especially during the dry season.
To address these issues, our city leaders collectively decided where we needed to start. City planning is not an exact science and many big projects get prolonged and delayed due to the complexity as well as the limitations in management and financial capacity. Therefore, we began with a focus on our most urgent needs. Water is a critical issue and we need to ensure that we provide safe, reliable drinking water. We’re now not only planning to expand our current water treatment facilities, but to make our current water systems instrumented and intelligent, as well.
By using a network of sensors and intelligent technology, we are exploring new ways to constantly monitor our water supply and even prevent water loss and waste. While city infrastructure has traditionally been something that was installed and simply maintained, we can now look at it as a valuable source of information. Sensors and meters can tell us every few minutes how our systems are performing – if the water is properly cleaned and chlorinated, for example – and it can help us ensure a steady supply by alerting engineers at Da Nang Water Company (DAWACO), the city’s water utility provider, at a moment’s notice when issues arise.
Capturing the large volumes of data that these systems are turning out every minute gives us new insight into our most precious resource and how we can better manage it.
Our roads will also benefit from intelligent insight. Using Big Data and predictive analytics, our traffic control center will have the tools to forecast and prevent potential congestion. When events such as rain storms, floods or traffic jams occur, the ability to monitor roads in real-time can help us avoid bigger problems. And with a holistic view of city traffic, transit awareness, analytics and prediction tools, we hope to reduce the amount of time our citizens spend in traffic.
To help achieve these initial significant results, we are planning to expand these pilot projects in larger scales that encompass all kinds of vehicles, such as buses, trucks, taxis, and full control of water supplies and wastewater treatment over the next several years.
In addition, we are doing research and looking for funding to continue applying advanced solutions for a Smarter City. We will try our best in ICT applications with the most advanced solutions on information processing for efficient exploitation of city resources. This is considered our strategic development in the next decades.
Da Nang is firmly on an exciting journey. We are confident that by using information in new ways, harnessing Big Data and information coming in from many different sources, we will be able to efficiently manage our growth and emerge as a vibrant city for our citizens. By taking small steps, we believe we are well on a long journey to become a sustainable and smarter city.