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South-east Asia's vision for smarter cities

Based on the experience of 26 ASEAN states, experts from the region have put forward a model approach for developing a smart city.

The 26 pilot cities that contributed information and feedback about their projects
The 26 pilot cities that contributed information and feedback about their projects

A smart city vision must be “relevant, engaging, actionable” and “for learning” or “REAL” say key speakers at the forthcoming ConnecTechAsia summit in Singapore.


Professor Suhono Harso Supangkat, president of the Smart Indonesia Initiatives Association, and Tay Kok Chin, chairman of Smart Cities Network, reached the consensus after meetings and workshops organised by the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) highlighted a number of challenges and obstacles.


Input from ASEAN member states


Twenty-six pilot cities in the 10 ASEAN member states drafted projects where solution providers from all over the world were invited to participate and which informed the following model, put forward as a vision for how smart cities should be developed:



The majority of smart cities today are led by government agencies. This is important for the building of technology infrastructure, such as sensor networks. However, for such smart city projects to be successful, it should also be relevant to the private sector.



When Indonesia launched its Smart Cities Initiatives in 2014, cities were expected to put in place a command and control centre and a call centre. This has been the case for cities like Jakarta, Makassar, Bandung, and Semarang in Indonesia. The Garuda Smart City Framework offers a practical model for public, private and people engagement in Indonesia which can be replicated elsewhere in the world.


In Singapore, the One Service app by the municipal service office coordinates public feedback and channels them to nine different government agencies.



Too often, solution providers expect governments to allocate budgets for smart city projects. More often than not, however, many of these projects are not implemented due to a lack of resources, be it in terms of finances, people or skills. All these factors have to be considered, and one viable approach is to embark on bankable projects, as advocated by the ASEAN Smart City Network.


For example, smart street lighting would be an excellent actionable smart city project. The model requires minimal upfront financial investment, and the infrastructure investment can be made by external parties, in return for guaranteed energy savings and downstream compensation to the external parties involved.



In order for smart cities projects to be sustainable, ASCN believes that the existing curriculum of academic institutions today should be tightly integrated with content that is relevant to the development of smart cities. This will then help groom the next generation for smart cities of tomorrow. The Singapore Challenge 2019 is an example of such an integrated academia-industry model for the Food and Beverage sector.


The ASCN was established in 2018 to facilitate cooperation on smart cities development, catalyse bankable projects with the private sector, and secure funding and support from ASEAN’s external partners.


ConnecTechAsia takes place 18 - 20 June at Marina Bay Sands & Suntec Singapore.


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