Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group will contribute its cloud computing capabilities to transform Macau, an autonomous region on the south coast of China, into one of Asia Pacific's leading smart cities, South China Morning Post reported. Alibaba and Macau signed an agreement on Friday August 4.
The two parties will collaborate in upgrading Macau's IT infrastructure, by leveraging the technologies of Alibaba Cloud, the group's cloud computing arm. Improving the city's IT infrastructure is expected to bring in more digital developments in tourism, transportation, healthcare, governance and talent development.
The partnership will bring various benefits to both residents and tourists in Macau, which will see Alibaba Cloud leverage its experience in deploying smart city projects across mainland China. The tech giant's expertise in the field include using artificial intelligence to improve road management, air and water transportation, and also customizing guided tours based on data-driven analysis.
The Chinese autonomous region of Macau has built a reputation for gambling similar to Las Vegas in the United States. In fact, Macau is currently the world's wealthiest gambling hub, with casino revenues topping 23 billion patacas (US$2.86 billion) in July 2017, official data indicates.
"Alibaba Cloud's big data and deep learning technologies have been helping to build ‘city brains' in China to help local governments effectively make management decisions," said Simon Hu, senior vice president of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Cloud.
In an interview with South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, he said, "We are confident about making Macau's transformation into a smart city a demonstration project across Asia-Pacific region."
Alibaba's partnership with Macau will span four years, with the first phase (2017 to 2019) focusing on cloud computing, smart transportation, smart tourism, smart healthcare, smart city governance, and talent acquisition. Training programs will be undertaken by Alibaba to increase Macau's cloud computing and e-commerce professionals.
The partnership will mark Alibaba's first smart city project outside mainland China. Macau chose to collaborate with Alibaba to foster the development of cloud computing and big data technologies, said a statement by O Lam, head of the region's office of the chief executive, after observing how other cities have developed their own smart city visions.
"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," O Lam said.
Alibaba has proven its smart city capabilities, particularly with Hangzhou City Brain, and artificial intelligence-enabled transportation management system, which has enabled traffic speed to increase 11 percent in the city's Xiahshan district, where the project is being piloted.