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Top 10 smart cities in Southeast Asia

Top 10 smart cities in Southeast Asia

CIO Asia lists the ten most promising smart cities across Southeast Asia

Credit: Dreamstime

During the 32nd ASEAN Summit which took place in March this year, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong proposed an ASEAN Smart Cities Network initiative (ASCN) - a proposal which was approved by all members of the bloc.

ASCN is envisioned as a collaborative platform where 26 cities from the ten ASEAN member states work towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development. The primary goal of the ASCN is to improve the lives of ASEAN citizens, using technology as an enabler.

Although most of the cities on this feature still have a way to go until they can achieve the full status of smart cities, there’s a strong determination to make this happen sooner than later, as the ASCN demonstrates.

Here we look into 10 cities of the Southeast Asian region which are already or are in the process of becoming smart cities. Apart from New Clark City in the Philippines, all feature in the ASCN initiative. 

For this list we have used research from GovInsider, The ASEAN Post, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the ASCN project profiles.

Hanoi (Vietnam)

Hanoi has been working on its smart city planning since 2016. With a population of 7.6 million, Vietnam’s capital aspires to be a green, culturally-rich, civil and modern city with sustainable development to create a better life for its inhabitants by 2030.

A thriving city, Hanoi has one of the fastest gross domestic product (GDP) growth indexes in the world.

On the technology front, Ericsson affirms that the country will be adopting 5G within two years, something which would give a huge push to the development of Hanoi’s smart city infrastructures.

Hanoi’s Smart City Action Plan includes the establishment of a Smart Operations Centre which will contain a number of functional hubs, including a support centre for the city’s IT staff, a data analysis centre and a centre for traffic supervision, traffic control and crime prevention.

In the education sector, 2,700 schools and universities are being integrated into an online system where school reports and enrolment data can be easily accessible online by students and teachers.

And when it comes to transportation, the city is working on a digital traffic map to ease traffic congestion. Hanoi, together with Ho Chi Minh City, is using the iParking app in some districts. Thanks to this app, drivers can find free parking spaces and pay from their smartphones easier and quicker.

Singapore (Singapore)

No top smart cities list would be complete without Singapore on it.

Ranking an impressive sixth position in the top world smart cities 2018 index by the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Singapore is at the forefront of the digital economy, digital government and digital society.

Singapore is ahead of major global cities such as New York, San Francisco or London, and with its autonomous vehicles, smart sensor platform and use or artificial intelligence (AI), there’s barely a day when the city-estate doesn’t make headlines in technology news.

One of the elements which places Singapore ahead of its neighbours when it comes to smart city development is the government’s strong commitment on tech-friendly legislation and a massive investment in its smart city infrastructure.

According to IDC data, Singapore leads the way in government IT spending among ASEAN countries.

Jakarta (Indonesia)

As part of its smart city development, Jakarta has launched Qlue - “the smart city app”.

Qlue is a social media app which allows users to report problems directly to the local government and businesses, as well as sharing information with other citizens.

Reports sent through Qlue are dispatched in real time to the relevant local authorities. Each report status can be monitored using the app and Qlue’s Dashboard online.

The app promotes civil participation and bottom-up engagement, encouraging citizens to complaint about poor or lack of services, bring suggestions forward or share data through different platforms, including Smart Government Dashboard, Smart Environment, Smart Mobility, Smart Media Analysis or Smart Safety.

One of Jakarta’s future smart city projects is the development of OK OTrip, an integrated transit cashless payment system. The project consists on integrating all of the city’s transport payment systems into one cashless platform to improve urban mobility, enhance modal share and reduce travel time, while keeping travel affordable.

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Twenty-six per cent of respondents to a survey by The Economist rated Kuala Lumpur as already being a smart city.

Among the governmental initiatives to make the Malaysian capital smarter is the outlining of the Greater Kuala Lumpur area as one of the twelve National Key Economic Areas of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

The main objective of the ETP is to transform the city by using technology and developing digital skills and related areas towards smart city development.

In 2016, Kuala Lumpur’s City Council was named finalist in IDC’s Smart City Asia Pacific Awards (Scapa) in the Public Works category due to its Heavy Vehicle Classification System (HVCS) initiative, which was implemented to address traffic problems during peak hours.

Kuala Lumpur envisions to be a world class sustainable city by 2020 through the implementation of ten strategic targets, among which are achieving energy efficient spatial structure, sustainable energy system and increasing the share of green employment by four per cent.

Mandalay (Myanmar)

Myanmar’s last royal capital and its second largest city - after Yangon - with 1.25 million people has experienced rapid urbanisation and population growth in the recent years.

To promote itself as a smart and green city, the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) and the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development (DHSHD) have prepared their first major 25 year urban development plan.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the French Agency for Development (AFD) are providing technical and financial support to help the city achieve its vision through the Mandalay Urban Services Improvement Project, which aims to improve the city’s water supply system, wastewater treatment and solid waste management.

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