City getting smarter with public services

Chen Huizhi
The NPC hears how the application of smart technology is improving public services in Shanghai with speedier resolution of concerns of companies and residents.
Chen Huizhi

Shanghai has come a long way in applying smart technology in its public services, the National People’s Congress heard.

Chen Jing, secretary general of the Shanghai government, said it had sent questionnaires to over 1.1 million companies in the past few months about concerns related to the novel coronavirus epidemic and got over 45,000 replies.

Some concerns were answered straight away, while the rest were directed to different government departments and districts with a requirement that they contact the companies with opinions or solutions within two to three days.

“The companies told us they welcomed this way of communication with the government,” Chen said.

In the meantime, government officials “visited” over 110,000 companies via video-link conferences, he said.

Chen said the government’s service portals had processed over 10 million items about residents’ issues, while its data center now stores over 95 million certificates and licenses of residents and companies so they don’t have to carry papers around when dealing with official issues.

Next, Shanghai will push for regional service data integration and applications with the neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang so that city residents will enjoy the same conveniences out of town, Chen said.

Hang Yingwei, head of the Pudong New Area government, said it had made life safer in the new area with computing technology.

One problem being addressed was illegal group leasing where too many people in the same apartment were posing a danger to building safety and fire control. By matching public utility data with data on the size of each apartment and the number of people registered for each household, the government can identify suspicious cases, Hang said.

“Our experience is that the various data should be integrated into applications for different tasks so as to maximize their value,” he said.

Shao Zhiqing, a member of the China Zhi Gong Party and former vice director of the Shanghai Economy and Information Technology Commission, said he expects the government to make the data more “proactively” work for residents so that they don’t even need to apply for some services in some cases.

Also, data collected from the public should be applied on the principle of reason and minimal use so as to protect people’s privacy.

“There is a misunderstanding that the data should be open to all government departments, as this could result in abuse of the data,” Shao said.

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