Earlier this August, Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) signed a deal with Trilliant to deploy Southeast Asia's first smart city project, five months after completion of AMI smart communications network at SHTP, a pilot project driven by electric utility company EVN.
Being one of Ho Chi Minh City’s five focal economic projects driving the city’s development, Saigon Hi-Tech Park is a $1.5 billion business park and is the centrepiece of Vietnam’s bid to make Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) the Silicon Valley of the Pacific.
It is envisioned that with the installation of LED lights, controls and smart city management platform running over EVN's existing AMI network, SHTP will be able to improve efficiency, sustainability and safety for residents.
But HCMC is not the only with the smart city ambition.
At the 12th edition of Asia IoT Business Platform in Vietnam last year, city governors gathered to exchange their thoughts on what constitute a smart city.
We learned about Da Nang's strategic plans to become a smart city - though according to Mr. Tran Ngoc Thach, Vice Director of Da Nang Department of Information and Communications, the deployment may take awhile.
The focus for Da Nang's smart city approach seems to be on e-government services: a data centre has been set up, with storage bandwidth of 100 terabytes, TIA standards, certified ISO 27k, to deploy applications securely. This data centre is considered the "heart of the e-government system, with optic fibres as the veins". Da Nang also deploys a specialized Wi-Fi network with 430 broadcast points in the main roads and tourist areas - especially in the district administrative centres, so that citizens and tourists can easily access information and use the public services (this Wi-Fi network is completely free).
As for Ha Noi, six criteria were defined in their smart city framework: energy, environment, transport, education, commerce, government.
Mr Nguyen Xuan Quang, Vice Director of the Ha Noi Department of Information and Communications shared that their first step was to build the telecommunications infrastructure - they started having 4 G last year and were in the process of building a network to connect the entire public service.
"By 2020, Ha Noi will become a smart city."
Smart City Race in Vietnam is getting pretty intense.
Over the past year, many new initiatives have been launched not just from the bigger cities, but lesser known cities and provinces like Ha Giang, Son La and Thai Nguyen have also started embarking on their smart city journey - with support from international partners to local corporations.
While there may be some lack of alignment on what defines a smart city in Vietnam - simply put by Mr. Vo Minh Thanh, the Head of Ho Chi Minh City from the Department of Information and Communications, they had issues "defining what a smart city is" - various approaches have been taken with varying focus.
This Nov 29-30, we will be getting updates on the latest projects from stakeholders like Saigon Hi-Tech Park, Viettel on their work with Ha Giang, Son La and Thai Nguyen at the 19th edition of Asia IoT Business Platform in HCMC.
Let me know if you have any thoughts or case studies that you think would be relevant to our discussions.
P.S. A summary of Vietnam's digital transformation across industries can be found here.