Woodstock Recognized as International Smart City Leader at Taiwan Conference

Editor’s note: Global Atlanta’s Michal Jensby traveled to Taipei with the delegation to contribute the bulk of the reporting for this article. This article was first published in Global Atlanta, an online news publication devoted to revealing the city’s ties with the world and helping local companies navigate the global economy.


TAIPEI — As Hsieh-Hung Cheng outlined how cameras monitor water pollution and scan license plates for stolen vehicles, his audience from Georgia had no trouble seeing similarities with projects they’re running back home.

Mr. Cheng, chief of innovation and application section for the city of Taoyuan, Taiwan, fielded questions from two Georgia mayors and multiple reporters as they toured its “AI for All” exhibit at the world’s second largest smart-cities conference in March.

Mayor Michael Caldwell immediately saw direct links to how Woodstock, his Cherokee County city of 35,000 people, is collecting data on traffic inflows during citywide events and helping first responders avoid getting caught at red lights.

But Taoyuan — and Taiwan at large — is taking perhaps a more holistic view about the way cities can improve their citizens’ lives through data-driven decision-making, Mr. Caldwell mused.

“I guess part of what’s most impressive in this for me is how comprehensively you think about this, because for us, we’re doing each of these things, but we think of them departmentally,” he told Mr. Cheng as they walked the floor observing an AI Mayor, electric buses equipped with sensors and visual exhaust monitoring systems for scooters, among other solutions.

The sharing of best practices across international borders is at the heart of the Smart City Summit and Expo 2024, a massive gathering in Taipei put on by the Taiwan Computer Association.

Georgia cities had much to contribute: Along with Warner Robins, Woodstock was one of two communities from the state that made the Smart21, a global list of cities honored by the Intelligent Community Forum for specific smart-city initiatives. Woodstock will learn in November whether it advances to the competition’s next phase.

Woodstock’s was a project dating back to 2020, when it began working with the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation — or PIN, also part Georgia’s Taiwan delegation — on a smart-corridor study mounting GridSmart cameras at intersections.

After collecting data, PIN-supplied interns paired it with previously collected information to help the city better plan for future transportation projects.

The project is one example of how Woodstock, where population doubled in the decade leading up to 2010 and grew another 50-plus percent by 2020, is using technology to solve citizens’ problems while adopting frameworks to maintain their privacy, said Mr. Caldwell, an entrepreneur-cum-politician who maintains a wider view on metro Atlanta through his vice chairmanship of the Atlanta Regional Commission.

While impressed by the scale and focus of Taiwan and global cities represented at the conference, Mr. Caldwell was happy to see that his city holds its own when it comes to putting technology to use in service of solid governance.

“I felt on equal footing in a way I didn’t expect to be on equal footing,” Mr. Caldwell said in an interview at the conference.

Mayor Michael Caldwell of Woodstock spoke on two panel discussions, including this one on artificial intelligence