All it takes is for a determined national university to leverage on AI to kickstart and transform the developing country.

One of Vietnam’s two largest universities is leveraging artificial intelligence as a foundation for industry 4.0 and making Ho Chi Minh a smart city.

Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM) is a pioneer in AI training and research in the city, having invested nearly VNĐ7 billion (US$301,372) to set up an AI lab at its University of Science for research into advanced machine learning methodologies, speech translation into Vietnamese, bio-informatics and others. The lab, set up in 2008, researches text-to-speech and speech-to-text.

Also, VNUHCM’s University of Technology had in 2016 spearheaded a project to develop crowdsourcing for data collection and providing traffic warnings in the city over mobile phones by 2020, as part an IT application programme to reduce traffic congestion. The software developed will be offered to the city Department of Transport for testing.

According to VNUHCM, enhancing the use of AI and having a high-quality workforce with the capacity to understand the latest technologies and innovations is critical to the country’s growth. In Southern Vietnam, the first AI lab there set up an IoT-Robotics Club, and organized many free online and offline training courses on basic Python and website programming. In Ho Chi Minh city, the numerous universities and science research institutes there could foster training and research to remain abreast of the latest technologies and help build an AI eco-system.

Nguyễn Thành Trung, vice chairman of the Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee in HCM City, had recently been quoted at an international conference saying that the city aims to become a smart city in the near future by implementing IoT (the Internet of Things), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data. The city faces challenges such as flooding, traffic jams, inadequate infrastructure, and limited resources for development, among others. As such, he aims to develop an open data ecosystem and build a centre for the simulation of forecasts for development strategies, as well as an information security and safety centre.

Healthcare, food safety, and social order and safety will all benefit from a smart city approach. “It’s also important to raise residents’ awareness so they can prepare and adapt to live in a smart city,” he said.