Rama eyes more AI, traffic lights, outsourcing

SunStar Cebu
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CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama wants to implement artificial intelligence-driven traffic lights not only in the South Road Properties (SRP) but throughout the entire city, as he called digitalization a way to achieve a smart city.

“If you look everywhere, the whole world is highly AI, artificial intelligence, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t adopt that. We should adopt that,” Rama said in his teleradyo program “Ingna’ng Mayor” on the Sugboanon Channel of the Cebu City Government Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.

The mayor made the remarks after the Cebu City Government entered into a joint venture partnership with Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) which led to the private company’s installation of AI-operated traffic lights along the T-junction of the Cebu South Coastal Road on the corner of El Pardo St.

Over the “Patigayon Sugbo” program on Sugboanon Channel last Jan. 19, FLI assistant general manager for City di Mare (CdM) Gwen Sala said the traffic lights along the SRP near its Il Corso mall were installed and tested on Thursday, Jan. 18.

“It’s an adaptive (system). It’s sensor based. It’s smart. So it detects the volume of traffic,” Sala said.

City di Mare is a 58-hectare development in the 300-hectare SRP that covers a 40-hectare mixed-use sector, a joint venture project of the Cebu City government and FLI, and a 10-hectare commercial component, according to its website.

In 2020, during the time of the late mayor Edgardo Labella, the Cebu City Government awarded a contract to Triune Electronics System Inc., a Manila-based technology firm, and Cylix Tech CCTV and Smart Surveillance for the installation of a P480 million traffic light system, which replaced the three-decade-old Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (Scats).

Last year, Rama ordered a review of the City’s contract with Cylix and Triune, after the City’s Traffic Management Coordination Committee (TMCC) rejected their assertion that their traffic light system was the most advanced in the world.

The TMCC questioned the efficacy of the 2020 Digitalized Traffic Light System Project, which had installed the new system in more than 40 intersections, saying Scats was better in terms of speed and real-time adaptive capability to the traffic conditions on the streets.

Phase 1 covers 18 intersections on General Maxilom Ave., Serging Osmeña Blvd. and Colon St. that was completed in 2021 at a cost of P232 million.

Phase 2 covers 27 intersections and would have cost P248 million, but it was not completed after the TMCC complained of the increasing number of traffic lights that malfunctioned after they were installed.

Rightsizing

Rama said putting it all together, the world is now into online, seamless connectivity, digitalization and outsourcing.

Highlighting the thrust of the national government, which is rightsizing and downsizing, Rama said the road to achieving a smart city is outsourcing and digitalization.

“So all of these, toward being a smart city, wa may smart city nga nahimong recruitment ang gobyerno,” Rama said. (There is no smart city that made the government a recruitment agency.)

Rama said as cities become smarter, economic growth is inevitable and this, in turn, leads to an influx of activities that drive digitalization.

He said the shift towards a smarter future could redefine the traditional workspace.

“Perhaps some may work from home already because they are now part of the world of BPO (business processing outsourcing). So looking at it from that point of view, let’s not maintain being Jurassic,” Rama said.

Before the end of 2023, Rama promised not to leave City Hall employees without jobs in the event of a downsizing.

“One day, there will only be 3,000 of us. Don’t worry. We will do outsourcing. You will have jobs. I will guarantee those who will be displaced, you will still have jobs somewhere,” Rama said at the Dec. 18 flag raising ceremony.

The City Government currently has around 9,000 employees, including casual and job order employees.

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