CityNet Highlights Its Members’ Innovations on Inclusive Digital Transformation

Asia Pacific is at the heart of digital transformation. The region is experiencing an unprecedented pace of digital acceleration and adoption.

In a CityNet session at the Asia Pacific Urban Forum 8, Secretary General Dr. Vijay Jagannathan highlighted the necessity for a balanced approach in digital transformation initiatives, urging the integration of both top-down and bottom-up strategies, stressing the importance of fostering innovative partnerships to tackle funding and challenges in capacities.

CityNet invited its members to present solutions and strategies that help demonstrate this balanced approach in a session titled, ‘PPP innovations on digital transformation for the vulnerable sectors’ at the Asia Pacific Urban Forum 8 on October 24, 2023, in Suwon, Republic of Korea.

Four cases were presented. Makati City Government presented its Makati Citizen Card, a city-wide ID card that integrates all the benefits to its residents. The Card creates faster and more efficient social service delivery to the low-income groups. Residents reduce significantly their transaction time to avail city services that include health, medical services, education, and even allowances.

Moreover, Professor Chang-Yu Hong of Pukyong National University presented how Busan City Government is balancing the demands of tourism given the city’s aging population. Professor Hong said that Busan is receiving noticeably young visitors because of K-Pop, arts festivals and concerts among others. Through the continuing use of social media, data analytics, and user-generated content, the city gets feedback and refine its city branding from all sectors that include its senior groups.

To make digital transformation more inclusive, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) supports private sectors to enhance their digital services to the digitally vulnerable sectors. Through the Seoul Digital Foundation, private sector partners can find the platform where they can pilot test the usability of their solutions and give feedback that can help improve the solutions, thus saving costs before venturing them out to the commercial market.

Another initiative is the Digital Twin Content Development Support Program. Mr. Boris Kim, Senior Program Manager of Seoul Digital Foundation (SDF), said that the city listens to the public demand of digital solutions to different urban challenges. The SDF invites and consults with solutions providers to match with the public demand. Through the consultative process, the private sector tests and validates their solutions with the concerned stakeholders.

In another presentation, Ms. Jaehee Hwang of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) underscored those partnerships with the private sector and other organizations increase the chance of impact on the communities. Public Private Partnership promotes technology transfers, dialogue, and further scaling up, she added.

A notable case is UNIDO’s work in boosting Ethiopia’s Coffee Industry. UNIDO plays a facilitative role in ensuring the value chain of coffee production – from production, processing, to domestic and export sales – are harmonized through introduction of modern technologies and promotion of sustainable practices on small farmers and capacity building to comply with certification.

The presentations demonstrated that PPP has become a strategic process in digital transformation to improve the conditions of the different vulnerable sectors.

Secretary Vijay Jagannathan concluded that digital technologies bridge the gap and help enable the full potential of younger generation to be on board in deepening their understanding of their urban environment and in developing different urban solutions.

This article is co-written by Mr. Paulie Mora and Ms. Ara Ko. They can be reached at

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