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Last week, Macau received a visit from a distinguished guest, the head of Alibaba giant, Jack Ma.
Ma was in town to sign an agreement of co-operation with the Macau SAR Government, to develop an automated platform for Big Data and artificial intelligence use in the city.
The term used to describe the goal underlying the creation of a local cloud-computing centre, to be implemented within the next four years, was ‘urban brain.’
All brains welcome.
So the previously announced smart city plan is now bound to take shape within a series of areas, ranging from transport and healthcare to talent pooling and development.
The framework agreement will provide structure to the five-year plan the local government announced last year as a comprehensive chart of principles to be pursued.
What was intention is now being designed as actual policy.
The plan is ambitious, and one might question whether or not there will be enough vision and capacity for it to materialize. But this being Jack Ma, the chances are it will work out.
Enabling an urban cloud management system could inform governance with efficiency, alleviate urban plights, improve tourism management and healthcare access – although having the new hospital built once and for all seems equally efficacious in regards to the latter.
But a cloud, as dynamic and interconnected – as well as volatile and subject to breaching – as it can be, still has to operate within extant, physical infrastructures. If they are not in place, they will have to be.
This raises a series of questions.
During the protocol signing, it was mentioned that the cloud-computing centre will complement the information technology infrastructure already in place.
In addition to asking what ‘information technology infrastructure’ they were referring to, one might ask, who will actually be in charge of implementing the new system? Will it be centralized, and under which government department? Does Macau have local people to develop and oversee the related operations?
Secondly, authorities claimed that the data will be stored in the city. Alibaba’s representatives in town also said the system will be connected to other cloud systems which belong to the group worldwide. That means there will be a mechanism for cloud data distribution and sharing from the start.
Talk about integrating Macau within the Greater Bay Area. Infrastructure-wise, the process is moving forward at a fast pace. Now, it is time for integrating people.
Personal data protection will be at the core of the process. Plug and pray.