Myanmar’s Mandalay Demonstrates Smart City Technology of the Future

Myanmar’s old royal city of Mandalay is showing off what new technologically linked cities can do. Located in the northern part of Myanmar, the town embraced new technology as a way out of its past shadowed by military rule. In a country where most of the public officially still use pen and paper to get things done, Mandalay has adopted a surprisingly forward-thinking methodology to bring about real change in the governance of the northern city.

Today, the local administration of Mandalay allows for secure connection with the politicians – the first politicians in government with an overwhelmingly civilian background since the military junta ruled the country in 2011. Residents of Mandalay can communicate directly with their representatives through social media. Mayor Le Ywin, a former eye surgeon, was instrumental in the changing attitudes of the populace. His methodology of dealing with social media complaints directly and tagging elected officials in the public space ensures that they get things done.

Newest Measures Spark Spy Warnings

Mandalay’s regional government has recently invested $1.24 billion to acquire closed-circuit TV cameras with networking provided by Huawei of China. However, local activists have been against the adoption of the technology, citing warnings by the United States against utilizing Huawei brand technology for fears of it serving as a platform for spying by the Chinese government. Members of the government have assured supporters that Huawei remains dedicated to data protection, but no concrete evidence has surfaced to support this view.

The installation of these cameras is expected to provide additional levels of security to the more developed areas of Mandalay and offer peace of mind to citizens since they also come with built-in facial recognition technology. Some commentators have advised that before the government adopts potentially problematic systems which may lead to a breach of privacy, that the country needs to have a framework for the protection of individual data rights first.