I. Multifunctional official website responds to citizens' needs
Today, people have become accustomed to using the Internet for all kinds of information searches. Therefore, following the merger of Taichung city and county, we also merged their two official websites. This combined website attracted over five million page views within only a few days of becoming operational on December 25, 2010. By June, 2011, the number of page views had already exceeded 12 million, representing a doubling of visitor traffic within only six months. This reveals that our website has become an important channel for citizens to access city information. In order to help users better obtain the information they want on various website pages, we are this year introducing a service that combines website membership and a personalized information subscription system. After becoming a website member, people can indicate the information they would like to view, such as the latest government bulletins or career-related updates. We also offer subscriptions to an online newsletter.
II. Geographical Data
Our application of a geographical map data system has helped ensure our continued good performance. Below are the details and results of this promotion.
1. One-Stop Service
Taichung City Government is the first government organization in Taiwan to make geographical map data open to public access, as we believe that this meet the people's needs. Plus, in response to the Freedom of Information Act, Archives Act, and Charges & Fees Law, all city government mapping data can be accessed via the Digital Map Library. We hope that the use of such map data can help make Taichung a more competitive city.
2. Updating System for Address-Number Location Data
The city government has constructed a address-number location map data system, which allows people to search for the latest door-number information online. To date, over a thousand people have already used the system, which includes satellite images, street views, urban planning information and cadastral information. Thus, we have developed a service with capabilities exceeding those of Google Maps. Open access to address-number data system is provided in accordance with the Land Surveying and Mapping Act.
3. Urban Planning Information Search System
We have received almost 500 application requests for Land-Use Zoning Certificates at Taichung City Hall, so we decided to build an online system that allows people to look up urban planning information without going to city hall in person.
III. Internet Promotion Results
Promoting use of the Internet is an important means of reducing the “digital divide” within society. Below are the results of such measures.
1. Digital Divide
The following statistics are taken from the “2010 Digital Divide Report” compiled by the Executive Yuan's Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission:
a. Individual digital divide: Computer and Internet usage is growing in popularity among people over the age of 12. A survey indicates that Taichung City (42.0%) is third-ranked among Taiwan cities/counties after first and second place Taipei City (44.4%) and Hsinchu City (43.6%).
b. Family digital divide: Research shows that 86.4% of families own computers, putting Taichung City behind Taipei County and Taipei City in ranking. Another section of this report, “Computerization comprehensiveness within families”, shows Taichung City in second place with 71.9% after Taipei City (73.5%).
c. Generational digital divide: In the report, the computer usage rate in Taichung City was 81.7%, ranking number-two for Taiwan. However, its Internet usage rate is the highest—78% (followed by Taichung County's 71.5%). All in all, Taichung City performs very well in the “individual computerization rate”, “family computerization rate” and “overall computerization rate” categories.
2. Promoting the Internet to Minimize the Digital Divide.
a. In response to Executive Yuan directives, Taichung City Government applies for a budget from the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission each year to carry out “Internet Promotion Project” work. Starting in 2009 (2008 for Taichung County), Taichung City has worked diligently under this program to offer benefits to all city residents. Furthermore, to reduce the digital divide and improve the computer-usage environment in Taichung City, it is our goal to transform the problem of a “digital divide” into a “digital opportunity”.
b. According to the “2010 Digital Divide Report” compiled by the Executive Yuan's Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission, the Internet access rate for residents was 78% and 71.5%, respectively, for the former (pre-merger) Taichung City and Taichung County. Both of these numbers are above the average rate of 70.9% for all Taiwan cities and counties. Research gathered between 2008 and 2010 showed that the Internet access rate in the former Taichung City was growing. Regarding then-Taichung County, the digital divide was larger because its territory covered such a broad area. However, 2010 statistics showed that the Internet access rate in Greater Taichung was 70.9%, revealing that the digital divide was minimal.
IV. Building Taichung City into an 'Intelligent City'
Following the city/county merger, using information and technology to offer a “better life” to citizens has been our ultimate goal. Creating an “intelligent city” means using communications technology as the core for connecting people and promoting various services. To showcase the results of our hard work in this area, we are planning to participate in the “Intelligent Community Forum (ICF)” this September to promote Taichung City. Since 1999, when the ICF nominated Singapore as its first-ever intelligent city, receiving an ICF nomination has become a sought-after goal for all global cities that want to promote intelligent construction. Taiwan's five special municipalities are home to almost 70% of the country's total population, and infrastructure needs are growing, making the promotion of an intelligent city very crucial for city governments. In light of experience from the past few years, we have realized that technology development should always be based on the needs of citizens and businesses, in order to boost the quality of life and efficient operations into the future. We will also continue utilizing a variety of technologies to serve our people, create work opportunities, develop city culture and improve residents' lives.