Most people believe technology can lead to better living: Microsoft survey

  • Cities need to adopt tech, but building infrastructure a long-term play
  • Difference in enthusiasm between developed and developing economies
Most people believe technology can lead to better living: Microsoft survey

SEVEN in 10 people believe that technology will be a catalyst in improving the quality of life, according to a survey by Microsoft Corp, which also found Singapore as the most admired city in Asia Pacific.
The Microsoft CityNext Asia Pacific Survey: Your City, Your Future polled over 2,000 residents from 13 cities in the region on their outlook and priorities over the next decade amid rising urbanisation pressures.
The cities were Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Manila, Mumbai, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo.
The survey was conducted among Generation X (born between 1966 and 1976), Generation Y (1977 and 1994) and Generation Z (born after 1995).
Emerging economies showed more enthusiasm for technology as a catalyst for a better life, according to Stefan Sjöström, vice president of the Public Sector at Microsoft Asia Pacific.
For instance, 95% of respondents in Mumbai and Delhi believe that “technology is an important vehicle for realising a better life,” he said.
“But it was much less so in some of the developed countries – probably because many people think they are already past that stage due to their level of maturity,” he told the audience at a mayoral dialogue session at the World Cities Summit 2016 in Singapore.
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But while the people in developing countries may be enthusiastic about technology, the infrastructure in their countries needs to catch up.
People “have got the spirit of what you can do with technology and that’s grown rapidly – but the infrastructure side is a long-term journey,” he said.
“Building and then protecting infrastructure is a daunting task, and very often in countries like Myanmar, it’s closely related to ADB (Asia Development Bank) and World Bank funding.
“It’s a massive undertaking to make it happen, but nothing is stopping the democratisation of getting people to be heard or listened to,” he added.
Survey results
In the survey, Jakarta ranked joint first with Manila in the use of technology to deliver information to residents about city services, with 93% of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing. Bangkok came in fourth with 85% and Singapore was eighth with 78%.
When it came to technology improving communications between people and the city, Manila came in first with 90% strongly agreeing or agreeing, Jakarta second with 90%, Bangkok fourth with 74% and Singapore fifth with 76%.
As for better connectivity, Jakarta and Bangkok tied for first, with 90% strongly agreeing or agreeing. Manila came in a close third with 87%, with Singapore not far behind at 85%.
As for big data analytics enabling cities to plan better, Manila came out on top with 88% strongly agreeing or agreeing, Jakarta second with 85%. Bangkok came in fourth with 80% and Singapore eighth with 65%.
The reason for such a disparity could be due to the lack of awareness of big data analytics among the respondents, according to Sjöström.
“I don’t think it’s misunderstood, but there is a lack of awareness of the power of BI (business intelligence) and being able to use technology to help in decision-making,” he said.
As for the role of technology in providing economic opportunities, Manila ranked first with 94% strongly agreeing and agreeing, Jakarta was second with 88%, Bangkok came in third with 87%, and Singapore sixth with 79%. (Click infographic below to enlarge)

Most people believe technology can lead to better living: Microsoft survey

The dark and light sides
Meanwhile, at the same dialogue session, Michael Koh, a Fellow at the Centre for Liveable Cities, said that regardless whether one is in a developed or developing country, everyone can use IT (information technology).
“The key thing is you don’t have to be a developed country or city to enjoy the benefits of IT … even my 86-year-old mother uses WhatsApp on a daily basis,” he said.
“It’s a matter of getting societies more enabled and to think inclusively, and the key to this is to provide a platform for people to interact, and to learn about IT.
“This is where we must have the spaces … for people to meet and learn, to co-share, co-work, co-live and so on,” he added.
But having a tech-enabled populace does not necessarily make for a more involved citizenry – there is a downside to increased ‘engagement,’ argued Oswar Muadzin Mungkasa, deputy governor for Spatial Planning and Environment, Jakarta.
“Our people are not ready for this technology – for example, because they can now take a picture and complain [via an app], they complain about every single thing because it is so easy – sometimes they send [complaints] four times a day,” he said.
However, Oswar agreed that IT can be good for openness and transparency in city administration.
“The smart city concept in Jakarta is not about technology, but people need to understand their responsibility and the ethics of using technology,” he said.
Related Stories:
Singapore’s Hive to bring data science goodness to the people
Qlue connects people to bureaucrats for a better Jakarta
CityNet and Microsoft CityNext collaborate to ‘build better cities’
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