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Official Calls for More Digital Cities
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A key science and technology official vowed yesterday to accelerate the construction of so-called digital cities across the country.

Lai Ming, director of the science and technology department of the Ministry of Construction, said at a press conference in Beijing that informatization is a strategically important part of the effort to build the country into a modern, well-off, harmonious and innovative nation.

"Building digital cities means introducing information technologies to city planning, administration, infrastructure construction and other public service facilities," Lai said.

"The rapid development of telecommunications, the Internet and other digital technologies has provided very effective solutions to problems in these fields."

Digital cities are those that use information technology to deliver municipal services to citizens.

During the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05), more than 120 cities set up information systems for city planning and management, and over 400 created information systems for real estate management, according to the ministry.

Lai said the government is strongly committed to building digital cities and had given such projects a primary place in the development of the information technology industry and the construction of city infrastructure during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

With support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Construction will launch a series of projects expected to lead to technological breakthroughs in the building of digital cities, Lai said.

Lai added that the lack of an overall plan and any sort of national standards had hampered the construction of digital cities.

For example, it is common for the various government sectors within a single city to develop their own information technology systems, which often end up being incompatible with each other, causing many inconveniences for citizens and wasting public resources.

Cui Junzhi, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the ideal digital city would successfully blend physical space with cyberspace.

"It would result in an expansion of a city's space and improve services," Cui said.

Yan Xiaopei, vice-mayor of Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province, said at the meeting that the third China international Conference on Digital City, which is to be held between September 21 and 23 in the city, would promote the construction of digital cities.

The conference, which is to be jointly organized by the ministry and the municipal government, will include a forum and an exhibition of construction technology and equipment.

(China Daily May 10, 2007)

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