Indonesia | Vietnam

The missing piece of smart cities

Smart cities continue to be a hot topic at this year’s Asia IoT Business Platform 2016 Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Graced by the presence of Ministry officials and city mayors, presentations and discussions on IoT technologies related to smart cities raise much interest in the conference participants. Interestingly, while technologies were extensively discussed, so was another aspect sometimes overlooked – engaging and educating smart citizens.

Technological innovations continue to play an important role in smart city initiatives across Indonesia and Malaysia. Applications like smart energy-saving lighting, vehicle tracker, all-in-one smart card have been implemented in Bogor, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to work towards a more efficient, innovative and sustainable urban community. These technologies continue to create small but powerful impacts on the daily lives of the citizens.

Besides technology, education and citizen engagement have been identified as equally important – if not more – aspects for city governments to successfully implement smart city technologies into the daily life of ordinary citizens.

“The three main focus for Jakarta Smart City are: the government listening to the citizens, citizen participation, and mobile applications” – Pak Setiaji, Head of Jakarta Smart City, Indonesia.

Citizens need to be educated on what the city is doing in order to improve their livelihood, as well as give feedback for the city to improve on their current initiatives. One of India’s 100 smart city programmes, Bhubaneswar, has done so by establishing city-level Smart City Advisory Forum that includes District Collector, Mayor, CEO of Special Purpose Entity, local youth, technical experts, representatives from Associations, who will all contribute their insights and feedback about the city’s programs. Engagement starts from the beginning of establishing a smart city program, and will continue until the end. Through accessible channels such as social media, Bhubaneswar was able to reach out to 32% of the city’s population, garnering valuable feedback to the smart city planners.

The future of smart cities lies in the hands of not only city councils and city planners, but also the citizens. In order for citizens to truly benefit from smart cities, local governments need to not only have a clear direction for development through regional or national IoT initiatives, but also engage citizens effectively and ensure accountability to fulfill the actual needs of the citizens.

Smart city projects have been criticised for not addressing root issues of urban living, prioritising the privileged citizens, and detrimental to citizens’ personal privacy. Continued efforts from the local governments to overcome these challenges and understanding the needs of their citizens will help smart city initiatives proliferate and serve the citizens.

As a citizen, how do YOU think you can be involved in the process of creating a smart city/community where you live?

Photos credit: Asia IoT Business Platform 9th edition, Jakarta, Indonesia. Do not distribute.

Smart City will be discussed at the 11th edition of Asia IoT Business Platform held in Hanoi, Vietnam on 29-30 November, 2016. For more information, drop me an email at [email protected] or visit

Dinh Viet Anh Nguyen

Sep 7, 2016

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