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Alibaba forms Macau Smart City partnership

William Payne
August 10, 2017

Chinese internet commerce firm Alibaba has entered into a strategic partnership with the Government of Macau to develop smart city services and applications. The smart city partnership is aimed at improving services for citizens of Macau and visitors to the city.

A Special Administrative Region of China, Macau is one of the richest regions in the world, ranking first in the World Bank's table of GDP per capita by purchasing power parity. Located in Southern China, about 40 miles west of Hong Kong across the Pearl River estuary.

The city, which is responsible for its own government under the "One Country, Two Systems" China policy, is highly densely populated, creating challenges for the city administration. The city is heavily dependent on tourism and gaming, having the largest concentration of gaming within any world city.

The partnership between Alibaba and the Government of Macau is for four years. In the first phase from 2017 to 2019, the collaboration will focus on cloud computing, smart transportation, smart tourism, smart healthcare, and smart city governance, as well as talent development.

In cloud computing, both sides will work together to develop a dedicated smart technology platform with the aim of promoting cloud computing technologies in Macau.

Macau and Alibaba will also work together on building a smart transportation network for the city to optimise the management of road, water and air traffic. The aim is to make the most effective use of Macau's transportation resources.

Alibaba will also support Macau in its development of smart tourism, building applications for visitor analysis and providing target consumer marketing tools. In the future, Alibaba says that tourists visiting Macau will enjoy insight-driven guided tours, convenient mobile payments and customised online promotions at the airport, commercial districts, tourist spots, convenience stores and restaurants.

In healthcare, Alibaba will work with Macau in enhancing its electronic medical system and assisting healthcare decision-making through the use of online medical information.

The two partners will also work on improving smart city governance, developing a centralised cloud-based platform that connects different government departments to enhance the efficiency of the city's governance.

To promote human development and skills, Alibaba is launching the Alibaba Cloud IT Certificate program and B2B e-commerce training program with local tertiary educational institutions to support the development of professionals in cloud computing and e-commerce, as well as to identify and nurture promising start-ups and talented entrepreneurs in Macau.

The scope of collaboration is intended to encompass environmental protection, economic forecasting and customs clearance on a later stage.

Chief Executive of Macau, Mr Chui Sai On and Alibaba Group's Executive Chairman, Jack Ma, witnessed the exchange of the Memoranda of Understanding in Macau.

O Lam, Chief of Office of the Chief Executive said: “After setting the goal to turn Macau into a smart city, Macau Government has studied the experience of other cities in developing their own versions of smart cities. After thorough study and research, we have decided to collaborate with Alibaba Group to foster the development of cloud computing and big data technologies. By leveraging the power of these technologies and connecting resources of different government departments, the project is expected to enhance the model of socio-economic operation in Macau, expediting the city's transformation into a smart city.”

Simon Hu, Senior Vice President of Alibaba Group and President of Alibaba Cloud said: “It is an honour for Alibaba to support the Macau Government's vision for the development of a smart city. Alibaba Cloud's big data and deep learning technologies have been helping to build ‘city brains' in China to improve well-being of urban residents. Leveraging our advanced technology and experience in this customised project, we are confident that the success of Macau's digital transformation will serve as an example of a truly smart city in the region.”

Alibaba has worked on a number of other smart city developments. The collaboration with Macau will draw on the company's experience working with other cities. One source of experience is the Hangzhou City Brain, which was launched in October 2016 based on artificial intelligence and deep learning and reduces traffic congestion by sending out instant traffic alerts and route suggestions to users by real-time prediction of traffic movement. According to Alibaba, this transportation management system, piloted in Hangzhou's Xiaoshan District, has increased traffic speed by as much as 11 percent.