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Vietnam's Danang begins makeover into 'smart city'

FPT aims to tackle traffic jams while revamping farms and hospitals

Danang looks to become a technology hub, attracting companies from Japan and the West, while the Vietnamese city's beach resorts draw more attention as a spot for international conferences.

HANOI -- Vietnamese information technology leader FPT looks to turn Danang into a "smart city" in two years, focusing on fields such as agriculture, medicine, energy and traffic.

The company plans to spend 15 billion Vietnamese dong ($658,000) on pilot projects in the country's third-largest metropolis over the next year, aiming to begin smart city operations in 2020. FPT and the city of Danang signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday.

Bringing smart technologies to Danang likely will boost the Hanoi-based company's "internet of things" business. "The internet of things holds the key to growth," FPT Chairman Truong Gia Binh said.

FPT will work to prevent traffic jams on Danang's streets through real-time monitoring of roads and management of traffic signals. The company also plans to introduce an electronic patient record system for hospitals as well as a crop management tool for farmers. Technology would be used in responding to natural disasters such as tsunamis and floods as well.

In 2016, the company opened an IT hub in Danang, where it employs 10,000 engineers. Danang offers cheaper labor costs than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, and its abundance of science and engineering schools helps FPT secure talent. The city's potential as a tech hub continues to grow as companies from Japan, Europe and the U.S. start to gather.

Plans to create smart cities are underway in other parts of Vietnam. Hanoi is slated to become a smart city by 2023 with help from a public-private partnership between Japan's trade ministry and companies such as Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Ho Chi Minh City has teamed with the real estate arm of Singaporean conglomerate Keppel to develop smart technologies.

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