Urbanisation is widely recognised as a mega trend that is changing life in Asia's cities. A growing urban populace is increasing the pressure on urban infrastructure. The ICT industry is responding with a host of innovative technologies to address urban planning and operational challenges. As governments encourage and invest in smart buildings, smart mobility, smart energy, smart planning, smart governance and more, cities become more efficient, safe and green; they become 'smart cities'.
Analysts have predicted that over 40 global cities will be smart cities in 2020. Traditionally, smart cities have been defined as cities that use new technologies, the promotion of innovation and knowledge management to become more liveable, functional, competitive and modern.
Ten years ago, when we showcased RFID for the first time at the CommunicAsia trade show in Singapore, RFID was only being used in hazardous environments such as oil rigs. Today RFID tags are embedded in groceries on supermarket shelves and in travel and fuel cards that we use every day. Smart/innovative technologies are already in action at various touch points such as healthcare, banking and finance, education, design and construction, transportation and more.
The India Post launched the National Data Centre, Hong Kong uses GIS-based site search tool to improve urban planning, Singapore's hospitals are implementing an electronic health records system, more Vietnamese cities are rolling out free WiFi in public places.
In Singapore the IDA has rolled out a phased Smart Cities Capability Development Programme that collaborates with industry players such as ST Electronics and IBM, to develop prototype solutions and smart city capabilities for Singapore.
Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB) is already working with foreign partners to develop a computer-based complex system modelling tool that will simulate different built environments, helping town planners choose the optimal living situation for Singapore residents.
As urban planners across the globe look for smart solutions to urban challenges, there is huge business potential for the latest enhancements in embedded technology, sensor networks / sensing technology, RFID, GPS, M2M, mobility, security and ID recognition technology, big data and business analytics software, cloud services, wireless network and many others. These are the technologies that power smart energy (and the smart grid), smart transportation, smart water, smart buildings, and smart government (including social services such as health, education, and security).
Asia brings together the best in smart cities technologies at its annual tradeshows CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia, with a special NXT Cities zone showcasing how various technologies come together to build a smart city.
There is no doubt that ICT is the key enabler for smart cities. In the Jurong Lake District (JLD), Singapore's model test bed for implementing smart city technology, testing will soon be underway incorporating crowd optimisers, library management, taxi cue optimizers, smart car parks, energy efficiency, mall navigators, etc.