Smart city initiatives taken by Asian countries leading to better quality of life

Smart city initiatives taken by the Asian countries are playing a significant role in building better quality of life for its citizens in the future. This has been revealed in the latest report of the MIT Technology Review titled ‘Connectivity and QoL’ published in association with Dentsu Aegis Network.

Speaking about the trend of Smart Cities in Asia, the report said, “Municipal governments in Asia are engaging the private sector in uniquely collaborative ways to build smart cities, based on a ‘value exchange’ where firms can meet their own branding and marketing objectives, while still contributing to the efficiency and quality of public service delivery.”

The report underlined, “Asian governments and businesses are in many ways more willing to invest in experimental models that exploit new technologies, business models, and urban planning design, with “anchor” service sectors such as health care that can serve wider communities.”

Municipal governments in Asia are engaging the private sector in uniquely collaborative ways to build smart cities.
Municipal governments in Asia are engaging the private sector in uniquely collaborative ways to build smart cities. Photo courtesy: EDB

Referring to the challenges, the report said, “Smart cities in Asia still face some development challenges: ‘greenfield’ smart cities with no established commercial or social infrastructure often suffer from a lack of people willing to live in them, while making existing cities ‘smarter’ can prove extremely complex.”

Leading Asian technology firms such as China’s Alibaba or Japan’s Panasonic are also using smart cities as R&D platforms, to experiment with new technologies - such as big data analytics or IoT and business models.   

The MIT Technology review has analysed  how digital consumer habits and ubiquitous technology are driving smart city developments in Asia. The report is based on extensive in-market research efforts across eight key markets in the region – Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. It includes some two dozen in-depth interviews with senior executives in the economic development, communications services, information technology, and advertising and media industries.

 The report has also found several best emerging best practices in the eight Asian economies which are explained below:

 Leveraging the cloud: Cloud computing infrastructure that enables fast and cost-effective application development is an essential foundation for smart cities is being developed regionally, particularly Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and increasingly India.

Creating “open” ecosystems: Sydney, Australia, has been a leader in the promotion of public data as a common resource for smart city developers, as has Singapore.

Asian cities are utilising technologies to make Smart Cities.
Asian cities are utilising technologies to make Smart Cities. Photo courtesy: voice and data

Consumer-driven application development: Creating open “sandbox” environments is a key to creating and prototyping applications that a city’s residents would find useful, many involving existing services like public transportation “powered” by advertising.

IoT and sensor-based platforms: Established technology and device exporters such as Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are investing heavily in sensor- and device-based management to detect leaks, theft, or security breaches and to facilitate better, more personalized services for all consumers.

Cashless economies: Efforts to migrate transaction payment to mobile platforms or frictionless card- or chip-based applications are emerging in Singapore, Taiwan, and India, and are growing particularly fast in China, driven by pervasive and powerful social media applications like WeChat.

Speaking about the challenges of the Asian cities, the report said, “Asian cities grew by nearly one billion people between 1995 and 2015 - more than all other regions in the world combined. Urban growth has also brought challenges; fast-expanding cities have strained transportation systems, power and sanitation infrastructure are particularly problematic in Asia’s poorer cities. Increased energy consumption, deforestation and car ownership in the region has turned Asia into the world’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas levels.”  

It further said, “The need to fuse the commercial motivations of the private sector with the civic and governance responsibilities of municipal governments and the state will continue to present a coordination challenge. Smart urban spaces can become magnets for creativity, talent, and innovation, thus making them more globally competitive. Smart cities in Asia have set their sights far beyond basic efficiency gains, to increasing their overall competitiveness as an economy."

Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.


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