Technology is a catalyst for building innovative and people-centred cities across Asia

Asia’surban population is growing at a rapid pace and creating the largest sustainedmigration in the history of humanity. Over the next 20 years, Asia’s cities areexpected to grow by an average of 42.7 million people per year. Due to thisincredibly fast urbanization, many city leaders are overwhelmed with addressingarising critical problems and are left without the capacity to reflect onbigger picture issues. This is where collaboration between the public andprivate sectors can play a powerful role in helping cities to thrive.

As the newSecretary General of CITYNET, I am thrilled to be attending the 2013 CITYNET Seoul Congress this week alongside city officials,civil society leaders and urban activists across the Asia-Pacific region toshare best practices and highlight opportunities to help cities become moreinnovative and people-friendly. With 131 cities and organizations in more than20 member countries, CITYNET connects local governments, civil society and theprivate sector to exchange knowledge and build people-centered sustainablecities across the Asia-Pacific region.

In my role,I want to focus on a new narrative that centers less on the chaos of rapidmigration and more on the boundless opportunities that urbanization brings toAsian cities, and the appetite for change I’ve witnessed across the region.Over the last 10 years, globalization has resulted in cities becomingincreasingly important market hubs and has provided younger generations withenormous energy and potential to improve cities. I am a strong believer in thepower of citizens – not just the educated and technology savvy – but allcitizens. I believe that with our growing cities and expanding consumer bases,citizens have the passion and ability to change things for the better.

Technologyis an important tool to empower cities to become people-friendly.  Access to the Internet and ‘easier to use’development environments have already empowered hundreds of thousands of youthand developers to create cloud based mobile apps across the region that providesolutions to issues cities face. In addition to mobile apps, technologysolutions can support good business practices, help improve governance andraise transparency to ensure that citizens’ needs are being met.

As a partof the new narrative for Asian urbanization, I see technology playing anessential role in tracking and measuring data on everything from governmentprocesses, to citizen services and social and economic development – cityindicators leaders care about. The private sector can help cities stay one stepahead by ensuring innovative solutions that leverage the power of big data,social media and cloud computing are continually implemented acrossgovernments, businesses and schools.

Microsofthas joined us at the CITYNET Seoul Congress to present their Microsoft CityNext Initiative, an engagement model whereMicrosoft and their partners work closely with cities to apply innovativesolutions with the goal of empowerment – for governments, citizens andbusinesses. I support this people-centric approach to transform operations andinfrastructure, engage citizens and accelerate innovation. Microsoft CityNextfosters strategic partnerships to help city leaders develop sustainable cyclesof innovation, opportunity, and progress to achieve ‘What’s Next’ for theircities.

By workingtogether with private sector companies like Microsoft, city leaders andcitizens, I believe cities across the Asia-Pacific region can harness theideas, solutions, motivation and expertise to create more sustainable andpeople-friendly places to live.  I lookforward to collaborating with fellow leaders from around the world this weekwho also share this passion for empowering the ever-growing citizens of Asia’scities to facilitate urban innovation and positive change.

Havea comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Ore-mail us at

Vijay Jagannathan
Secretary General, CityNet

About the Author

Vijay Jagannathan | Secretary General, CityNet

Vijay comes from the World Bank where he was Sector Manager for infrastructure in the East Asia and Pacific region. Read More