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Smart cities must think locally, partner globally

Smart cities must think locally, partner globally

12 Aug 2021

Asean Smart Cities Network is where Asean members learn from one another’s experiences working with global partners to adopt smart technology

Digital innovations developed across South-East Asia in response to the Covid-19 pandemic are a testament to the region’s ongoing commitment to building a range of “smart” infrastructure and applications.

After the successful development and implementation of the MySejahtera app to monitor the pandemic, Malaysia’s recent launch of The Federal Territories Smart City Blueprint (MySmart Wilayah 2030) that aims to develop smart cities through the application of digital technologies showcases the nation’s move in this direction.

Across the border, Singapore, who has also announced the Smart Nation initiative, has deployed two mobile apps — SafeEntry and TraceTogether — to curb future Covid-19 infections by determining if individuals were in close proximity to someone who later tested positive for the virus.

State agencies in Thailand collaborated on developing the DDCCaremobile app, which helps people self-assess whether they have contracted Covid-19 and tracks those who travelled from at-risk countries and thus must quarantine themselves for14 days.

The pandemic has taught us that there are no simple solutions, but we can overcome them together.

A vital platform is the Asean Smart Cities Network, where cities from the 10 member states learn from one another’s experiences working with global partners to adopt smart technology, as they advance their common goal of sustainable urban development.

Make Better, Faster Decisions Together

Partnerships with vendors play a crucial role in bringing emerging technologies to the public. Take ManagePay Systems Bhd (MPay), Malaysia’s leading commerce blended fintech provider.

As well as its well-known payment services, MPay also has a number of associated operations aimed at providing a complete endto-end digital ecosystem for Malaysia’s small businesses to bring products to market.

Among these are BuyMalaysia.com, a comprehensive digital commerce platform facilitating sales of local micro, small and medium enterprises from start-up to export.

To help it deliver a simple, trusted and secure experience to its customers, it selected Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to underpin the applications delivering this and several other brands. There are also plans to boost growth and increase adoption of cloud-based technologies in the public sector by partnering with Cloud Service Providers (CSP), as part of Malaysia’s Digital Economy Blueprint.

After the announcement, it has been reported that an investment of RM12 billion-RM15 billion will be made with CSP over the five years to build and manage hyper-scale data centres and cloud services. Other countries in South-East Asia are not far behind.

According to a recent study by think tank ESI ThoughtLab, sponsored by Oracle and other partners, most of the region’s major cities are investing heavily in cloud and cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology services, and more plan to do so within three years. However, while government agencies recognise that cloud services will enable them to innovate at scale faster than ever before, they still have security, regulatory compliance and budget concerns.

That could be why 83% of Asean city leaders say they prefer a hybrid cloud approach to deploying smart city services. Hybrid clouds allow cities to keep the most sensitive data and workloads on premises, integrated with more open, citizen-centric, collaborative workloads in the cloud.

Meanwhile, cloud services with AI features built-in move this emerging technology beyond the research labs and other large organisations with specialised expertise into the mainstream.

This includes the highly repetitive and manual tabulation and analysis of data, increasingly a necessity in helping organisations make smarter decisions. Take Triple A Super, a specialist self-managed superfund provider that operates out of the UK and Australia.

Working in a highly fragmented market, the company is using OracleAutonomous Database Warehouse (ADW) to differentiate itself and to be selected as a provider of choice by its customers — accountants and financial advisors.

Using machine learning and AI, ADW is able to automate the routine collation of the datasets, helping to improve speed to market and provide better reporting to Triple A’s clients.

As part of this, Triple A Super is developing a wealth management ecosystem to satisfy their need for greater information. Another area where AI holds great promise is in relieving traffic congestion, a major cause of environmental pollution and frustration in major South-East Asian cities such as Manila, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Road congestion currently costs Asian economies 2% to 5% of their GDPs every year, according to a McKinsey report, an amount forecast to exceed US$35 billion (RM148.4 billion) by 2030. Malaysia’s Smart Selangor initiative has embraced an Intelligent Traffic Management System, to allow real time traffic monitoring on all main arterial roads in Selangor in a bid to better manage road congestion. Singapore’s Smart Mobility Plan 2030 is pursuing a similar agenda in order to manage train, bus, car and bicycle traffic in real-time.

Adopt a “Whole-of-world” Approach, Building an Ecosystem of Opportunities

The main goal of these public-private digital initiatives and information-sharing is to enhance the quality and accessibility of services, and thereby, improve the quality of citizens’ lives. Global dialogues such as the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting and the World Cities Summit, both taking place in Singapore this year, bring city leaders and industry experts together to discuss the most pressing urban challenges, share solutions and forge new partnerships.

Fitri Abdullah is the MD of Oracle Malaysia.

Source: The Malaysian Reserve

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