Realizing ASEAN Smart Cities – A Webinar with Dr Venkatachalam Anbumozhi
Jakarta, 14 May 2020: A webinar dialogue on Realizing Smart Cities was jointly hosted by the Smart Cities Network and Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). The dialogue was moderated by Kok-Chin (KC) Tay, Chairman of the Smart Cities Network based in Singapore. Dr. Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Senior Economist and the Principle Investigator of the ERIA study on Realizing Smart Cities, explained the drivers of Smart Cities, and provided an update on the research findings to date and ways to launch smart cities in ASEAN and beyond. 138 participants representing policy making, business, academia and the public participated in this virtual dialogue, and shared their perspectives on smart cities.
In his opening remarks, Mr Tay highlighted the historical development of the ASEAN Smart City Network (ASCN), highlighting the enabling environment in Singapore as a Smart Nation.
Dr Anbumozhi, the main speaker, explained there are no clear guidelines for developing smart cities; each city has its own definition. Transforming cities into smart cities is key to providing ‘intelligent solutions’ to the challenges of urbanization, said Dr Anbumozhi. Generally speaking, a ‘smart city’ can be understood as a city that has improved facilities and services in order to deal with urbanization challenges including energy, mobility, ICT, waste and wastewater management, and emissions reduction.
The ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) includes six components common to smart city development: (a) smart governance, (b) smart living, (c) smart economy, (d) smart people, (e) smart environment, and (f) smart mobility. ICT, data management and the Internet of Things (IoT) also play essential roles to enable a smart city environment. Learning from Singapore, the cities of Chiang Mai, Johor Bahru and Jakarta, have employed a common but differentiated technology roadmap to achieve smart city goals.
In terms of financing smart cities, Dr Anbumozhi suggested that collaboration amongst stakeholders is crucial. City governments have budget allocations for city improvement that can be used for smart city development. Meanwhile, community funding, such as crowdfunding may be tapped to fund development. However city governments need to coordinate policies and decisions with other levels of national governments. In addition to that, Mr Tay suggested that Public-Private Partnership (PPP) should be considered as well.
The preliminary conclusion of this research study covers three points: there is an opportunity in ASEAN for a paradigm shift towards sustainable cities, technology development is critical for infrastructure and service delivery, and incorporation of digital intelligence, digital inclusion and innovation networks into strategic planning of ASEAN Smart cities models is important.