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Smart Cities in Southeast Asia: Beyond Singapore

It's no surprise that Singapore is often in the limelight with regards to Smart Cities development in the Southeast Asia: with 100% urban population, strong ICT infrastructure and the highest smartphone penetration in the world, the government has successfully launched more than a dozen smart city projects as part of its Smart Nation Program.

However, if we look past trying to define smart cities and instead focus on measuring the desired outcome, smart city endeavours in ASEAN nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines could potentially bring about a larger positive impact to the local community.

Smart City Solutions for the Developing Economy

For many of these countries, infrastructure is lacking. Smart City technology can help better utilize the existing resources (schools, hospitals, roads, public transportation) and extend its reach to the rural areas.

Digitalization of government services can also help to provide greater transparency and accountability and reduce the opportunities for graft and corruption. Smart utility solutions can help better manage energy use. IoT can even be integrated into natural disaster and risk management solutions for countries like Philippines.

In addition, with more than half of Southeast Asia’s 600 million people under 30, the potential for rapid uptake of smart city technologies

Smart Cities in Indonesia

Indonesia has been slow in implementing Smart City initiatives over the last decade due to lack of collaboration between the city government and the federal government.

However with the success of Smart City projects that are funded by the local/ regional governments, the pace has picked up dramatically.

Pak Setiaji, Head of Jakarta Smart City, spoke to the media at the Asia IOT Business Platform Media Day (June 16, 2016) about their plans to improve the lives of its citizens.

In addition to using Qlue as a platform to resolve public complaints, they are also using a monitoring system for over 6000 CCTVs to improve traffic and public safety in advance to welcome the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta

The Jakarta One Card was also launched earlier in June and it aims to combine the functions of an electronic ID card (e-KTP), a payment system for public transportation, shopping and electronic road pricing (ERP) tolls, and a Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) health insurance card. It is targeted that by 2019, all citizens in Jakarta will have the Jakarta One Card.

A Smart Street Lighting system is also in the works to replace 90,000 lamps this year and reduce the high electricity consumption. These lights can be controlled remotely and can provide notification when it should be replaced.

The Indonesian newspaper, Kompas, recognized 15 Smart Cities in Aug 2015 based on criteria such as smart economy, smart society and smart environment. Currently there are 24 (and counting) smart city implementations across the nation from Bandung to Manado.

With Indonesian mayors making technology a priority for planning the best use of limited resources, and with large investments from telcos to bridge the funding gap from the federal government, we foresee big strides forward for Indonesia Smart Cities.

Smart Cities in Vietnam

As mentioned in a recent article by Dinh, our assistant project director for the 11th Asia IoT Business Platform in Hanoi, IoT and smart city solutions hold great promises in solving everyday life issues and improving the citizens’ quality of life for a less economically developed country like Vietnam.

Phu Quoc, an island off of Kien Giang Province, is one of the cities aiming to become the first smart city of the country, in line with the nation’s vision to turn Phu Quoc into a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in 2020. Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) is working closely with the local government to materialise the VNPT Smart City model in Phu Quoc by building network infrastructure, data centre, and smart services. High-speed 4G network has already been trialed successfully on the island.

Mr. Mai Van Huynh, Vice President of Kien Giang People’s Committee, believes that the smart city project is necessary for Phu Quoc to become a well-connected, sustainable and important SEZ for the country and the region. However, “to have a smart city, there must be smart citizens, smart government officials”, Mr. Huynh.

This is just one of many efforts by the Vietnamese government in recent years to promote its municipalities towards becoming smart cities, in order to tackle various socioeconomic issues such as traffic jams, environmental pollution, and energy conservation.

What we can learn from Singapore

While many ASEAN nations may not have the financial willpower of the Singapore government to spend S$19bn for Smart Nation R&D initiatives, there are three takeaways that could accelerate smart city developments in Southeast Asia.

1) Having a centralised Smart City program. Data and technical know-how are shared among the cities to identify more actionable insights.

2) Commitment to education. From nurturing a highly educated workforce to providing skills upgrade and training for older workers, education initiatives need to be in place to manage the changing demands of the workforce.

3) Delayed Gratification. Often smart city initiatives takes time to bear fruit and smart city stakeholders need to take a long term view when deciding investments.

To take part in the discussions for ASEAN Smart City developments, do share with me your story at yueyeng@industry-platform.com


By Yue Yeng Fong | May 1st, 2017

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