Will there be 100 smart cities in Thailand by 2038?

Thailand 4.0 is the concept of the Thai government, with the aim to drive Thailand into a high-income nation. Smart City is part of the government’s Thailand 4.0 initiative to change big cities like Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Bangkok into technology hubs. Thailand set the target to develop 100 smart cities within two decades said by Deputy Prime Minister, Prajin Jungtong in November 2017. The government has established the National Smart City Committee and invited various agencies and experts to join including the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA). DEPA is the primary agency which is in charge of initiating the project under the government’s digital economy roadmap, providing high-speed internet infrastructure and free WiFi for smart city development.

Smart city domains include Smart Economy, Smart Mobility, Smart Energy and Environment, Smart Governance, Smart People and Smart Living. From the smart cities roadmap, Phase 1 started in 2016, with the pilot project to develop Phuket as an international tourism hub. The public sector dedicated THB386 million (US$11 million) to begin building a digital economy. This was followed by Chiang Mai with an initial budget of THB36 million (US$1 million), focusing more on smart agriculture and Khon Kaen with an initial budget of THB15 million (US$425,000) in 2017 which focused on becoming a medical, transportation and MICE (meeting, incentives, convention and exhibition) hub.

This year, the government plans to commence Phase 2 in Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao with the support of DEPA. These three eastern seaboard cities are located in the Eastern Economic Corridor (ECC), where most high-tech industries, especially S-curves industries, are located. The total estimated investment in the EEC, both from the government and the private sector, is about THB1.9 trillion. 

DEPA is currently working with the Smart City Alliance in Laem Chabang Municipality and Pattaya, Chonburi for launching Smart City D-Boost Camp. These are ways in which they have introduced a suitable and sustainable application of intelligent urban technology.

  1. Smart Living; school bus application to promote the safety of children’s travel, road safety integrating and upgrading intelligent CCTV technology, Distance Communication Robotics for health care in the Elderly
  2. Smart Mobility; Smart Port with a fleet management system to reduce congestion and reduce transportation costs
  3. Smart Governance is an integrated information system for city management. Complaints and follow-up to solve city problems with Mobile application
  4. Smart Tourism, including information and promotion systems, mobile applications, robotics, communications, tourism information.

    DEPA aims to turn the seven cities into real smart cities by 2023 and also plans to escalate their projects this year in Phitsanulok, Songkhla and Ubon Ratchathani.

In addition to smart cities, DEPA also introduced The Coding Thailand project to encourage the youth of Thailand to develop computational thinking skills. They are necessary and useful skills for the furthering development of a digital workforce to drive Thailand’s digital economy and society. Moreover, DEPA wants to grow the number of active digital startups in the country from 2,000 to 10,000 firms by 2027. They plan to support business expansion with funding of THB200 million ($6.2 million) to starts-up and SMEs.

Find out more details about opportunities within Thailand’s digital economy at the 24th Edition of Asia IoT Business Platform, co-hosted by DEPA, being held on 24th & 25th July 2018 at the InterContinental Bangkok. You can register to attend here, or drop me a note if you’d like to have a further discussion.

Sadudee Ratanavipupong

13 June 2018

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