IGF 2021 – Day 0 – HIGH LEVEL EXCHANGE PANEL: Cities United: connected, green and inclusive

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> MODERATOR: Hello, everyone, thanks for joining us. Welcome to this High Level Leader Track session. I'm Biena Magbitang, a multi‑awarded journalist from the Philippines, I had a digital team and English language cable news network in the Philippines. I also manage Asian programmes for climate. We are helping journalists to write better climate stories. It’s a humbling experience to be here marrying both of the sectors. I'm very, very passionate about technology and sustainability. Coming from Glasgow, I guess, the major take away I can say we really need to act now to secure a greener tomorrow and there are so many models we can get inspiration from. 

So today we will discuss the future of the world we live in. How do we create cities that are smarter, greener, more livable and more efficient, what and what is the role of the technology in urban development. I would like to invite our panelists to turn their cameras as we begin the session. So in no particular order, I would like to welcome our speakers joining us from on site, Mr. Petr Ocko, Deputy Minister of Finance, Mariusz Skiba, the deputy mayor of Katowice, Mr. Ger Baron, and joining us online Mr. Yuji Sasaki, Vice Minister for coordination of Japan's International affairs, Mr. David Jensen is the cochampion of the coalition for digital environment. And last but not least we have Ms. Martha Liliana Suarez, President of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance. 

We have a diverse panel with us. Welcome, everyone, good morning, good evening, good afternoon from where you are from. I know we don't have a lot of time. I would like to ask our panelists to address this statement. Sustainable or Smart cities should base their strategic plans and digitalization not only on existing best practices but also on new innovative solutions, let's begin with Mr. Yuji Sasaki of Japan. 

>> YUJI SASAKI: Thank you, Chair. Good afternoon, everyone. Regarding city nation initiative which is a new policy in the current administration and realizing sustainable and inclusive society with no one left behind by reducing the gaps between cities and rural areas through prioritizing rural region in digitalization. This initiative is still under consideration, but we believe in addition to deploying digital solution and visions it will be important to improve regional digital infrastructure to facilitate capacity building of human resources with digital skills, and so provide support to disadvantaged people such as elderly. 

We are already promoting some projects in agriculture, construction and manufacturing sectors, local key industries. For example in agriculture sector, there are some smart agriculture projects using environment data, geographical data and automation of agricultural work through remote monitoring and control of tractors and other agriculture machines. Over closed 5G mobile network called Local 5G Network. In construction sector, there is a project implementing remote control of construction machines in dangerous construction sites. 

In manufacturing sector, we are working with local small and medium‑sized factories to achieve greater safety and quality improvement and utilizing innovative solutions with high definition video, AI image and local 5G network to automate visual confirmation and commercial products in the assembly and inspection process, and to conduct quality check remotely. In addition to utilizing existing best practices, we believe it is essential to implement innovative solutions with strategic plan to strengthen infrastructure development, human resource capacity building, and user literacy enhancement so that everyone can achieve wellbeing by using digital technologies wherever she or he resides. Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for that, Yuji, I would like to call in Mr. David Jensen next. 

>> DAVID JENSEN: Thank you so much. This is a great question. I couldn't agree with it more. This is a huge challenge for big public sector institutions. I think path dependency and lock in for specific digital solutions is a really big problem we all face. We face this in UNEP, the UN Environment Program. So let me talk about how we are trying to address this challenge. There are three big ways we are trying to go forward. First, we have a fundamental commitment to agility and iterative solutions based on human‑centred design and constant feedback, so trying to be as agile as possible, trying to get feedback from users in everything we do, and really being agile is a fundamental principle we are trying to take forward in the organisation. We are trying to avoid lock in by also committing to open data and open source software solutions. 

So that's number one. Number two, we are trying to ensure that the design of our products and services are interoperable, modular and really future‑compatible. So means we are trying to adopt this concept of a digital ecosystem for our products and services which means they can be seamlessly interconnected and swapped out where needed. We are trying to really avoid dependence on a single solution, but really catalyzing this ecosystem of solutions. 

Then finally, we are trying to figure out how do we get to a more agile governance? How do we take faster decisions about new technologies to adopt? And one of the avenues we are exploring is moving to the point where regulations and international commitments themselves become code, and technologies can start to read these codes, take them into account and optimize for the outcomes of those laws and commitments so how do we start to automate the application of laws and commitments in technology itself and have those work to optimize for them? I think all three of these issues, agility, interoperability and agile governance are fundamental to the core of what the IGF is all about. Thanks. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for that catalyzing ecosystem and solutions and agile governance. Very good. How about you, Martha? 

>> MARTHA LILIANA SUÁREZ: Thank you for this invitation. I think taking into account the information of this panel, according to the United Nations E‑government 2020 most cities are underperforming. And I think it's important and I completely agree that cities focus on innovative solutions so that's very important, and not only the part about knowledge, but the part about sustainability, and that is really key. So from GSA perspective what we believe is that there is a challenge in terms of implementing those new technologies and one part of the challenge is bringing affordable connectivity. 

So I think we will cover more details about Artificial Intelligence, big data, IoT, but I would like to focus on two parts, one is access to augmented and virtual reality and for that one we will need affordable access. That could be, for example consider using innovative solutions like new opportunities with WiFi and new generations of WiFi that is most affordable, and also I would like to refer to the importance of having competitions and rapid deployments that could be for WiFi 6 for 5G and beyond. So in those phases, spectrum management is key and authorities should consider a way to avoid artificial scarcity, dedicating enough resources and in that case also spectrum sharing is very, very important as a key resource for more people to be connected and online. 

That is crucial for cities because that way you can make sure that the Government and public services are available for citizens. So my summary is like spectrum management is completely related to cities even if we don't see that relationship and new digital technologies can be brought by spectrum sharing. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for that. It is crucial especially for Developing Countries. Now, we have Mr. Petr Ocko who is joining us on site. 

>> PETR OCKO: Greetings from Katowice. It's a pleasure for me to be here. So a few words from the perspective of the Czech Republic on Smart Cities and sustainability. This is a really important topic for us, and we try to have a very complex approach to this topic. What is clear that you will not achieve your goals only by digitalizing or only by putting in place some particular solutions. You have to have a really holistic approach to development of this concept, and what is important as we see and it was already mentioned, we definitely need to develop the ecosystem, ecosystem of the players and a state that helps to develop the digital and environmentally social. 

In our strategy, but also in our 5G strategy in the Czech Republic, we actually put big emphasis on creating ecosystems in local communities. One of the concrete projects that we actually have in place is a project called 5G Smart City which I think is the best example of how to do it actually, and I think it's really important that we are able in this project to put together the city, the companies technology companies, operators, and NGOs that cooperate on complex development of the city. Every area of every city that is in our project has to have a really complex Smart City strategy. It's not just about having some digital projects, but they have to have complex strategy, but think have to have also ability to communicate with the technology companies, with the operators, and now in other cities we see use cases for people in three pillars, and I think it's also important to mention the three pillars that we see important for this project but also for the future. 

The first pillar is people and communities. We really want to focus on benefits for the people, and we want to have human centric approach, so we try to also focus on digital equalities to address education, digital literacy, access to social and health services. Second pillar is development of local economy. So includes of local businesses actually employing the principles of circular economy. The third pillar is living environment, and it means that we want to deploy green communities for innovative solutions for waste management and so on. So we have a very complex approach, and we will definitely support the new projects in this ecosystem way of support. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much, a human centric and holistic approach. I think that's really something that we can all work on. We are also joined on site by Mr. Mariusz Skiba. 

>> MARIUSZ SKIBA: I will describe in Polish, of course. We've just listened to some reflections voiced from the perspective of a central Government of the private sector, and I would like to focus on the local Government level. On the local Government level the issue of innovation is quite natural. Just as we would like to fly out into the outer space, we also promote innovation and innovation is something quite natural, something indispensable for us at the local Government level so for quite some time local Governments have been operating as private enterprises. We compare our works to those of other local Governments and through the best practices we seek the very best solutions. We want the solutions to be optimum in terms of cost effectiveness, but also in terms of the satisfaction of the citizens. A number of issues come to play here including the issue of quality of life, and the strategic documents adopted by the City of Katowice, we keep emphasizing the issue of quality of life. 

We want to address the knees of our citizens, the residents of the City of Katowice who live here, who want to study here, who want to settle down and have their families here. So we keep searching for innovative solutions that improve the quality of life. We would also like to make sure that our city is inclusive. We do not want to exclude mean. We want to make sure that the greatest number of residents can participate in everything that the city has on offer. And for quite some time, we have been focusing on climate change as well. It is believed that climate change has been with us for a long time, but our civilization has been lagging behind and so we now need to accelerate the pace of change in order to mitigate climate change. 

That requires the adoption of numerous legal solutions, and if I may give you some specific examples of what we do here in the City of Katowice, I would like to say that what is important for us is the issue of transportation, the issue of mobility. Local Governments in Poland since 2004 just like the local Governments in the Czech Republic, well, Poland and the Czech Republic joined the European Union at the same time and at that time we invested in the development of the road network as well as the railway transportation. We have not met all of the needs, though. Despite the positive change, other changes such as the negative urban sprawl has meant that not everything has been successful. And so we are now investing in more innovative projects aimed at easier navigation throughout the city like the City of Katowice, we want to make transportation as convenient as possible for the residents. Two out of the five greatest highways run through the City of Katowice. The traffic is enormous and so this is a great challenge ahead of us. 

So smart traffic management is a project that we will be involved in in the coming months, and we want to make sure that it's comfortable for the residents to navigate the city. As regards climate change, well, climate change is indeed very important for us. And we have invested a lot of resources in the development of infrastructure, but us as representatives of the local Government, we also need accurate information, accurate feedback on how the new infrastructure has turned out. As you know, rainfall, droughts, extreme weather changes, all of that has resulted in new challenges. So one of the Katowice based companies has been involved in a smart metering project, and in the space of three minutes really the mayor of Katowice is informed about some extreme weather changes and so we know what the situation is along specific segments of the water pipe network. 

So we can now identify a number of problems much more quickly. Speaking of the quality of life, it is important to ensure that residents have access not just to digital technologies and the Internet, but also to the green areas in the city. And so the so‑called civic budget that is implemented in the City of Katowice ensure better and more equal access to green areas. In 2018 we were involved in a project entitled Plant a Tree and we planted a number of trees based on the preferences voiced by the residents. The residents are also very much involved in other projects regarding revitalized brown fields in the City of Katowice. 

So social inclusion, the civic society activities are of utmost importance for us. We know that recently we have been impacted by high inflation and so access to different goods has been limited and we need to address these sudden changes, and so in Katowice, we have implemented quite an innovative solution entitled a social store. And thanks to that, the residents of Katowice now have access to cheaper products. And yet another challenge that we are trying to tackle is to ensure that there are more of such shops across the city for the residents not to be forced to travel across the city and to have access to cheaper products sold in those social cooperatives. We have also observed the rising energy prices, and so what has to be done is that energy efficiency is improved. 

And not just by means of their modernization, but also thanks to the ICT services that deliver the up‑to‑date information on energy efficiency. Representatives of the local Government need to have access to such information and recently we have implemented such a system, and so we know what the energy efficiency of the individual buildings in the City of Katowice is. So these are the types of initiatives that we have been undertaking in the City of Katowice. This is what creates the potential of this city and the city authorities have limited resources to spend, so really you need to inspect every penny for a few times to make sure that the investment is smart. Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much, everyone. So what innovations and partnerships are introduced or can be introduced in terms of making life better? How can different digital tools contribute to making cities even smarter? And I would like to go back to Deputy Mayor Skiba. 

>> MARIUSZ SKIBA: I think I have already given you a few examples, but certainly the idea of a Smart City is important. And just like the previous speaker has said, there are many stakeholders who benefit from the Smart City concept, including city authorities for whom it is important that they have quick access to information. They need to know how different services are implemented in the city, and so many local Governments have access to different ICT systems that are tailor made to cater to different needs, but it's important that the different ICT system integrated. The ERP system that some of the local Governments have implemented for sure is something that facilitates the process. But what is happening in the city is also important from the perspective of the residents. 

And so I'm sure that all sorts of solutions that are aimed at improving the quality of life in our city are of utmost importance, and especially over the recent months during the COVID‑19 pandemic, we have focused more on solutions that reach out into the future. We try to estimate the future of our city. We now reflect on how to design the City of Katowice in order to improve the quality of life of citizens in the future. So there are different forecasting tools that help us forecast the future of city transportation. For instance, the Visa system is a good example of such a solution that helps us design the road network and the public transportation system so that it is effective. Speaking of transportation, speaking of public transportation, we need to ensure that we have feedback on how many people use buses and streetcars, and we do have such a system in place. 

It is called Silesian public services card, and that system as soon as it was in place, it helps us gain access to information on how crowded the public buses and streetcars are, and that helps us design the transportation network for the future because we want to ensure that public transportation is available to the largest number of residents. And so this is crucial information, and we need to have access to such information. From the point of view of city authorities, what is important for us is also quick and easy access to information for the citizens. The citizens need to know how to navigate the city and so this quick information system by means of text messages is in place in Katowice. And I think it has been working quite well. Waste management is also important. 

We know that we have been producing more and more waste as residents of cities, and so individual countries need to adopt waste management policies that include waste segregation. And municipal waste management enterprises have a role to play in terms of waste segregation in terms of investing in innovative solutions because we would like to ensure that less waste ends up in landfills, and this way we can also mitigate climate change. Another important issue is social participation in everything that takes place in the city. Based on the civic budget project, we have identified some of the important needs of our residents. 

In the beginning, the share of residents in the project was quite limited, but then it has changed. People can now vote for individual projects online, and thanks to the online voting system, the level of social participation is now much higher. And so these projects that are now implemented in the city have a stronger social mandate. These types of projects or these types of tools so to say are certainly the future of local Governments. And so we need to be able to manage the available resources efficiently. We are obliged to implement innovative solutions in a cost‑effective manner. We want to avoid wasting the available resources. 

>> MODERATOR: David, I hope you can jump in next in this? 

>> DAVID JENSEN: Sure. Thanks very much. I think one of the big partnerships we are working on right now in UNEP is what's called the coalition for digital environment sustainability. That's CODES, and this is part of the Secretary‑General's roadmap for digital cooperation. This is a multi‑stakeholder group of around 800 people working on how do we bridge this gap between digital transformation and environment sustainability. And one of the key themes we are looking at is how do we use digital technologies to increase individual agency to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and behaviors. So we understand that about seven out of ten people, they want to be sustainable, they want to adopt sustainable lifestyles in their day‑to‑day lives but only three out of ten actually do so. 

There is this big gap between intention and action. How do we use digital technologies to close this gap, and in particular, in the city environment? So I think the big call to action here is really talking to the digital platforms and getting them to adopt something like a sustainability by default as a core value and design principle. So how do all of the big platforms, we are talking Google, Amazon, Uber, how do all of them promote sustainable by default as a core design principle and really help amplify the adoption of sustainable lifestyles, products and behaviors at a planetary scale. That's the big question we are trying to address in CODES. The other big question on the table now is linked to digital twins. Digital twins of cities where different environmental variables and behaviors can be modeled and optimized. 

I think that's a really big question. There are huge applications for digital twins and some of them were already talked about, decentralization of renewable energy, water management, waste management, transport. I think the key call to action within the digital twin landscape is adopting data standards and interoperability standard to ensure that the wealth of data coming from these different sectors can be fully integrated into these digital twin models. Again, if it's a question of data and it's a question of how that data is governed on the Internet, then this is, again, one of the key issues that I think the IGF should be seized of. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Martha. I hope we can hear from you as well. 

>> MARTHA SUÁREZ: I would like to refer to the connectivity aspect. I think it's important for cities in general to recognize how citizens are accessing the Internet. Currently more than 50% of the citizens connect online using WiFi. And starting or ending by a WiFi connection, and usually that is something that we take for granted, we assume that WiFi is there, and now with the COVID‑19 pandemic, we have seen that many people had to work from home, and then the traffic is constantly increasing. So in this context, it's, and also we just had the statements from Czech Republic and Poland and Mayor of Katowice about how there are some goals in terms of 2030, and one of the digital targets, for example, in the case of Europe, is to provide 1GB per second connection at households. 

All of that can be achieved if cities provide very good WiFi connectivity, and very good fixed and mobile broadband connectivity. So I think on that front, it's important if you want to have digitalization across society to take the decisions that will help that digitalization and digital transformation process. There are many actions that should be coordinated between municipalities and national Governments, and, for example one of them is to make sure that spectrum is given in the proper way. So it is, there is enough resources to boost that innovation. In the case of virtual and augmented reality, there are so many applications to make cities smarter. 

For example it would be very useful if you have those platforms for online description, like to guide you, where should I go, then you could have guidance not only with a message, but you could have the medium involved. And those applications again will need more spectrum and in that case more spectrum for WiFi would make it more affordable. Finally, it was also mentioned about the green transition. I completely agree that that is very important, and, again, on that, we should understand how people are accessing Internet. So it's sometimes is greener to have a combination of fiber with WiFi, especially for fixed locations like transport stations, like hospitals, like libraries, and then to combine that with mobile connectivity for other environments. So my message here would be for authorities to think about how their citizens are getting online, and to provide them with the tools they need in 2021 and they would need in 2030, and that will go through a modernization of the networks and new technologies. So that would be my two cents. Thank you very much. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much for those enlightening answers. I'm sure the audience are very inspired like me. What do you think are the societal challenges when introducing the Smart Cities model and what do you think are the measures that can actually be taken? Petr, what are your thoughts? 

>> PETR OCKO: Yes, actually what I think is really important and many people mentioned, many people have touched that it's really to implement the multi‑stakeholder approach, to actually involve all of the important players into the game, actually. So we heard a lot about many activities in Katowice and other places, and I think this is also important on the state level as well as the municipal level, but the most important is that both of those have to cooperate. That is why actually we in the Czech Republic we have created under the heading of 5G strategy, 5G strategy, so called 5G alliance that is really a multi‑stakeholder platform, and 5G serves as technology that connects all of the stakeholders, but the goals are not just to develop the 5G or to actually bring or to have a signal or coverage everywhere. This is also important, but we really want to actually develop the ecosystems in many areas. We have five priorities, five areas that we develop. 

One is focusing on smart industry. Czech Republic it's very important, but one of the ideas under Smart City is to actually bring new technologies like 5G, like Artificial Intelligence, and to help to develop and implement the solutions that are greener, that are actually under umbrella of, I don't know, circular economy, and digital technologies can help. The second heading under or second priority under our 5G alliance is focusing on Smart City, and we try to be working with the municipalities with all of the main stakeholders but also with the organisations and bring innovations into the digital solution for the municipalities for Smart Cities, for smart regions. The third priority is focusing on cybersecurity. This is really important. 

Everywhere when you speak about digitalization, you have to speak about cybersecurity. The fourth topic is focusing on education, on awareness raising. This is also very important because citizens are sometimes not ready to adopt technologies and understand what we are planning. So we need to educate and raise awareness. The fifth priority for specific for Czech Republic, so we are focusing on coverage on the main transport corridors in the cities. This is also important, and maybe I will also react to what Martha said, we should also try to implement dynamic spectrum allocation for part of our 5G spectrum. I would say it's an innovative concept, so we think this is one of the ways how we can actually give more flexibility to companies, industry, and also to cities and regions to actually bring spectrum coverage and new solutions to the citizens. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. How about in Japan, Yuji. 

>> YUJI SASAKI: We see challenges regarding utilization of technology. Due to mature data literacy and high sensitivity on privacy protection, many people have concern for using data and digital technologies. A variety of concerns such as how their data will be used, how securely their data will be stored and processed. And how reliable the data on the Internet are reliable are giving reluctance to business and individuals in properly utilizing data and digital technologies. Therefore fostering trust in digital technologies is critically important for use of data and technologies. 

In order to address such challenges the Japanese Government operates a comprehensive data national strategy to advance in public‑private collaboration towards digital society where use of data can be implemented. Trust and privacy protection and security measures, we are working to establish enabling environment for data, data flow and utilization, and to prepare data foundation and functions for data sharing. As synergizing such images and data city initiative, we will keep advancing towards sustainable and inclusive society where everyone can enjoy well‑being in their life through better use of digital technologies and data anywhere in the country. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for that, Yuji. I would actually like to ask more questions but we are down to the last minute of this session, so if I can just ask our panelists for final words or voluntary commitments. Can we start with the only female in the panel, Martha. 

>> MARTHA SUAREZ: Thank you so much. I think in terms of statements from the DSA and different allies from different sectors, satellite industries, startups, SMEs, we will continue giving this message importance of better connectivity to WiFi, and also as the same continue promoting spectrum sharing as a great opportunity for access in differing and innovative model, extending the ecosystem with more stakeholders than the traditional ones and making opportunities for different stakeholders like companies, enterprises to getting access to the spectrum and to be part of this connectivity challenge. Thank you so much. Congratulations for this great panel. 

>> MODERATOR: David, any final words? 

>> DAVID JENSEN: I wanted to reiterate the idea of the multi‑stakeholder approach and how fundamental that is. That is what we are trying to do in CODES now. My commitment is to release an Action Plan on the key priorities for digital environmental sustainability for the next couple of years and we commit to releasing that in March 2022. That will be based on this very wide multi‑stakeholder engagement process, trying to define what the key priorities are and trying to catalyze action in 2022‑2023. Thanks. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, David. All three talk about a multi‑stakeholder approach. Any parting words? 

>> PETR OCKO: I fully agree with supporting multi‑stakeholder approach. One more thing I wanted to mention, we also need to, and I think this is important to somehow secure that the citizens will not be scared of the new technologies. We see it with 5G. We probably will see the Artificial Intelligence. We need to make sure that these technologies are secure, that there are no risks to health or no risks in the sense of cybersecurity, but we need also educate people, raise awareness about what these technologies, what they are and what they are not, that we have not to be scared, and actually we should actually show on the use cases on pilot projects how does it work, how do the technologies help? For example, 5G can help to save lives, 5G can help to bring green solutions, and so on. So I think we need to communicate this is also something, this is my message that we need to better communicate what the new technologies bring. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Petr, Yuji also talked about cybersecurity a while ago. Do you have final words? 

>> YUJI SASAKI: Thank you. We learned some commonalities and differences in connection in connected city policies and policies between countries and cities, and we will make use of the learning in our domestic policy discussion. We are hosting IGF in 2023, and we will continue this consideration on connected city policy in our preparation. Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. We go back onsite. 

>> MARIUSZ SKIBA: Yes, as I was preparing for this Conference, I had this document that said that two‑thirds of the global population by the year 2050 would live in cities, and that really shows that there will be mounting pressure on cities. We even have the term of the urban jungle which is a concept that refers to an area where you can get lost, which is complex. And so if we want to talk about an urban jungle, we should, for example, think about green area because we want cities to be open, to be friendly to residents and so Smart Cities, new technologies, innovation, those are already being implemented in cities. These ideas will be continued in future and we really are looking forward to that. Here in Europe, we are also getting ready for the next EU financial perspective. And it is a challenge to really use the funding available to spend it on innovation that will bear fruit in the future. Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for joining this very exciting session. Now, we know that developing and smart cities that are connected, green and inclusive is very possible. Thank you everyone in the panel today and the Internet Governance forum for making this happen. I know that this doesn't end here. I hope to come back on site next year to hear about concrete progress that has been made by governments worldwide. Thank you again for joining us.