Episode Archive

SCP E191 Smart Communities in Developing Nations, with Kris Libunao

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a great chat with Kris Libunao, the Executive Director and Chief Sustainability Officer of Smart CT, a nonprofit organization based in the Philippines. Kris tells us about her background in urban planning, law and policy research, and what sparked her interest in the space, as well as what a Smart Community means to her. We discuss how Smart City practices need to be different in developing countries and the importance of data gathering, data literacy and community engagement. Kris and I talk about how the Philippines is embracing Smart Concepts and the challenges and opportunities that have been brought to the forefront this year during the pandemic. Kris then tells us about Smart CT and how they’re building a community around the organisation. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of data appreciation and literacy, digital infrastructure and bottom up approaches, plus some of Kris’s favourite Smart Community resources. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it. 

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Kris’ background in urban planning, law and policy research 
  • The goal of SmartCT of a different approach to Smart Cities in developing countries
  • What sparked Kris’ interest in the Smart Community space 
  • What a Smart Community means to her
  • Why Kris believes in the concept of Smart Community is important
  • The need for bottom-up practical approaches, not just top-down theoretical Smart concepts
  • The importance of data gathering, data literacy and community engagement in the Philippines 
  • How the Philippines is embracing Smart concepts
  • The challenges and opportunities brought to the forefront this year during the pandemic
  • About Smart CT and how they’re building a community around the organisation 
  • The emerging trends of data appreciation and literacy, digital infrastructure, as well as tech and data standards
  • The danger of privatisation and monopolisation of data and public services 
  • The power of bottom up public-private collaborative approaches to Smart projects
  • Kris’s favourite Smart Community resources 

Quotes:

 “We believe that a Smart Community uses data [and] technology to improve the quality of life, quality of services that it provides to the people and the environment that’s becoming denser and denser. So we believe that a Smart Community is collaborative, it’s open, it’s fair, and it’s a sustainable community. And at the end of the day, technology is just a means to an end. It’s not really the centre of everything.”

“Unfortunately, currently the Smart City practices in the Philippines and in developing countries, often the projects that are implemented are a top down approach. It’s commonly led by the government and by private corporations as well. So because of this, the communities are often left out without proper knowledge and excluded from the discussion in terms of decision making.”

“A top down approach cannot really be sustained, nor a privately driven approach, without consulting the people who are really the end users.”

“We want even the poorest or even the smallest communities [to be able to] adopt those particular Smart solutions…If we think that our solutions cater to them, then I believe that it will cater even more so to the big cities as well.”

“When we talk to government officials, the first thing that they will ask is where are your apps? But if we ask about where are your data first so we can build the apps from there, they don’t really get it.”

“I think there’s a danger if we do business as usual. The local communities might bear the danger of having this monopolistic private entities owning all the Smart City services, and owning all the data, all the information leading to reduced public control and regulation over not only the data but the technological system as well.”

Links: 

Episode 37 with Zubin Pratap

Episode 183 Nathaniel Bavington

Open Data Institute 

Open Knowledge Foundation

The Sunlight Foundation 

European Union Smart Cities Information System

Connect: 

Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community 

Connect with Kris via email kris@smartct.org or LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter @SmartCT_PH

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.

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