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Singapore leads Asean smart city push

Singapore is the Asean smart city project that stands out, but Thailand and Malaysian initiatives are gaining credit, according to IDC study

Singapore has emerged as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) country with the most outstanding smart city initiatives, topping four categories out of 14 in IDC’s Top Smart City initiative in Asia-Pacific (Apac) for 2015.

Thailand was the other Asean country featured in the list of winners, which was determined based on a benchmarking exercise that included IDC analysts identifying the key smart city projects in the Apac region, online voting by the public, and assessment by an independent international council.

IDC recognised Singapore’s intelligent transport systems initiative, smart water sensors for water management, national environmental agency smart mapping for dengue and control, and education scheme FutureSchools@Singapore.

Singapore is pursuing a “bold vision” to build itself into a smart nation, according to Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman at Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, a government body dedicated to developing IT and telecommunications within the country.

“Singapore, which has the unique advantage of being both a city and a country, is pulling together its community of startups, risk capital, universities, research and development institutes, and big corporates, together with the commitment of the government, to tackle difficult yet critical global challenges arising from the realities of an ageing population and urban density,” he said.

The winner in the energy space is Thailand's Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) smart grid pilot, which targets certain districts in the Chonburi province. This pilot will allow for the creation of energy usage and provision data that will be tracked and analysed by big data technology. The ultimate goal is for a better-managed grid so as to increase energy efficiency and decrease pollution from energy generation.

Read more about IT modern IT in the Asean region

The majority of Asean countries are still at the early stages of smart city deployment, said IDC Government Insights programme manager Gerald Wang. Singapore’s smart city projects are at stage three, according to the IDC’s smart city maturity model, with stage one being the least mature and stage five being the most optimised.

IDC estimates that 80% of Apac countries are at stage one of the maturity model. Another 3-5% have more mature smart city implementations at stage three, where there is some collaboration across a handful of selected agencies on smart city IT projects. Just 1% of the projects are at the more mature levels of stages four and five in terms of smart city development.

In addition to Singapore and Thailand, Malaysia has also been more active in the smart city space.

“Malaysia has done quite well when you look at specific states, like Iskandar Johor and Penang,” said Wang. “Asean countries, with the exception of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, are quite far behind other Asian countries like China and India in terms of smart city development.”

“At the end of the day, smart cities can mean social economic gain for these cities. It can help cities to compete for foreign direct investment, and attract and retain manpower,” he added.

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