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Smart Cities: The way of living in the future

Wong Heng Chew, Country President, Fujitsu Singapore | June 3, 2016
Wong Heng Chew of Fujitsu Singapore discusses how governments and businesses in the region are utilising smart city technologies to solve urban problems and improve services.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

In search of a better quality of life, economic opportunities and security, we have witnessed mass movement of rural populations to urban areas. Asia Pacific, as home to most of the world's largest and fastest-growing urban areas, is facing acute problems in its cities. According to Asian Development Bank, about 44 million people are being added to Asia's urban population every year. This unprecedented growth has resulted in overcrowded cities, creating huge stress on the urban infrastructure and even larger governance issues.

As governments grapple with these challenges, there is a rising belief that technology can be the solution.  In this scenario, smart cities are seen as the way forward to creating a sustainable path for growth. A smart city is defined as a vision which integrates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the efficiency and sophistication of social infrastructure. The goal is to leverage shared resources and information, creating value that improves the quality of life of the residents and solves problems related to matters such as the environment, economy and energy.

Governments from across the Asia Pacific region including Japan, India, Korea and Singapore have undertaken plans to build smart cities. Singapore has launched several initiatives as part of its aim to become the world's first Smart Nation. The Indian government has embarked on a massive plan to build 100 smart cities. Businesses are also looking at opportunities to take advantage of smart city technology, for example integrating the technology at various consumer touchpoints. Some of these innovations include connected retail stores and managing human traffic congestion at high-density public areas, utilizing public datasets of city information made available by governments.

According to Navigant Research, investment in smart city information and communication technology (ICT) in Asia Pacific will total US$63.4 billion during the period from 2014 to 2023.

The key areas where we see the significant benefits from smart cities are:

  • Healthcare: As a region faced with an aging population, especially in countries such as Singapore and Japan, healthcare is becoming a critical component of everyday life. The ability to connect data from different devices, such as weighing machines and blood pressure monitors, will help transform various aspects of healthcare, including treatment of chronic diseases and elderly care, to be more effective.
  • Transportation: The increasing number of vehicles on the road has resulted in massive traffic jams being a common occurrence across the largest cities in Asia. Cloud-based traffic management services improve road safety while promoting economical driving. Combining this with congestion-mitigation projects can reduce traffic and have a positive impact on the environment at the same time.
  • Energy: Energy requirements of smart cities will increase together with a greater reliance on technology. To reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, cities can utilize new energy systems that integrate centralized power sources, support large-scale production of renewable energy and enable citizens to participate in energy management.
  • Security & Safety: Video surveillance has improved tremendously and by including IoT, it can be made even smarter. By connecting the numerous surveillance cameras across the cities to feed data into a central network, problem areas in cities can be identified to improve policing and reduce instances of crime and public disturbances. Enterprises can utilize the surveillance systems to further improve the security across commercial and residential properties. 
  • Retail: An industry which is set to be revolutionized by smarter technologies is retail. Juniper Research predicts retail companies will invest US$2.5 billion into the new technology to take advantage of the Internet of Things by 2020. By investing in connected retail, the customer experience in today's multichannel world can be future-proofed. By creating a connected enterprise, retailers can deliver a seamless integrated customer journey.

 

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