And closer to home, Malaysia is making clear efforts to improve its Smart City initiatives
It stands to reason that, as technology advances, so too would the quality of life for people across the world. One result is the idea of ‘Smart Cities’ is quickly gaining traction globally, and it is estimated that by 2025, there will be 88 of them around the world.
But – what is a Smart City, exactly? Is it a city filled with smart people? A city of tall skyscrapers, clean air, and flying cars?
The concept of ‘Smart City’ varies – there is no universal consensus yet on what defines a Smart City but the overarching idea is, ‘the use of technology in innovative ways to integrate components of a city’.
This means leveraging government, the private sector, and the community to find the most efficient, eco-friendly, solutions for the city of the future.
In 2012, internationally-renowned urban strategist and Smart City expert Boyd Cohen unveiled his Smart City Wheel, which outlines the features, functions, and goals of a Smart City — with reference to major indicators and rankings.
Cohen’s framework has been widely adopted by various academia and industry players; and Cohen, together with other prominent researchers and advocates of the Smart City concept, further developed a set of 62 assessment indicators.
Among the cities acknowledged with the status of being a Smart City, there are three that come to mind as examples to be emulated.
Amsterdam represents another of the ‘Five Flagships‘ among Smart Cities, having drawn up a plan for rolling out fibre to 40,000 homes in 2002.
This plan was executed in 2006, with another 100,000 homes receiving fibre internet by 2009. Amsterdam also stands as a hotbed of small scale projects aimed towards the grander Smart City initiative.
By allowing the implementation of projects on a local level, the effectiveness of the project can be gauged, with the most effective strategies then implemented on a wider scale.
Centering its focus on six key aspects— namely Infrastructure and Technology, Mobility, Governance and Education, Citizens and Living, Circular City, and Energy, Water and Waste — Amsterdam adopts the bottom-up philosophy throughout the implementation of its Smart City initiative.
The City-zen project is another part of Amsterdam’s initiative, with the goal to develop and demonstrate energy efficient cities and to build a methodology and tools for cities, industries and citizens to reach the 20-20-20 targets.
The 20-20-20 initiative is a series of targets set by the European Union aiming for a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels, 20 per cent of the energy, on the basis of consumption, coming from renewables and a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency.
Acknowledged as one of the first Smart Cities in the world, Barcelona is also considered one of the cities at the forefront of Smart City development.
In 2015, they were also named as The Smartest City in the World.
The move to uplift Barcelona towards the status of a Smart City was spearheaded by then-Deputy Mayor Antoni Vives back in the year 2000. He had a plan to utilise technology and innovative solutions to manage resources and services, thus improving the quality of life of its residents.
Barcelona is also lauded by the European Union for its application of carbon-reducing technologies, such as its combination of an efficient bus system with hybrid busses that reduce emissions.
Others initiatives include Smart parking spaces, which reduce loiter time waiting for a space, its bicycle sharing system, as well as a pneumatic waste management system (which means fewer garbage trucks).
The city of Taipei is recognised as a flagship Smart City in Asia, having been named among the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the Year by the Intelligent Community Forum in 2004 and again in 2006.
In 2015, the Taipei City Bus System’s app as well as the city council’s apps for municipal administration and dynamic disaster prevention won the Innovative Application Award for Smart Mobility and Smart Governance respectively.
Taipei has a Smart City policy which will focus on the areas of Smart Governance, Smart Infrastructure, Smart Citizens, and Smart Experiment Sites.
The ultimate goal of the initiative is to create better public services and facilities for citizens through the application and implementation of intelligent technologies and IoT solutions.
Malaysia working to improve
Closer to home, Malaysia s working towards Smart City efforts in cities such as Cyberjaya, Penang and Johor Bahru.
The cities actively explore joint ventures or executing blueprints to bring the dream of an efficient, smarter city to life.
The state of Selangor — the largest contributor to the Malaysian GDP at RM 240 billion (US$54.5 billion) — is working towards joining the ranks of Flagship Smart Cities globally, with initiatives such as WiFi Selangorku, the #SmartSelangor Bus Service, and a Smart Waste Management System called iClean Selangor.
Expect the state to deliver much more in the near future, as leadership plans to unveil their Smart Selangor Blueprint at the Selangor Smart City International Conference this December.
Featured Image: Copyright: paulrommer / 123RF Stock Photo
Amsterdam: Copyright: manganganath / 123RF Stock Photo
Barcelona: Copyright: shperspectives / 123RF Stock Photo
Taipei: Copyright: richie0703 / 123RF Stock Photo
Malaysia: Copyright: macbrianmun / 123RF Stock Photo
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