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Disruption and transformation represent key drivers to building ‘smarter’ cities

Feb 24, 2017 | Singapore | Press Releases

Imagine this – the year is 2050 and, according to the United Nations, the population has risen to 9.7 billion, 66% of the world has moved into cities and India now has an extra 404 million residents, surpassing China as the most populated country. This rapid increase of urban populations can be a daunting thought for city planners, with 1.3 million people moving into cities each week, causing issues such as overcrowded roads, excessive energy consumption and housing shortages. However, due to the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the evolvement of Smart Cities, digitalisation of almost anything has helped to accommodate the growing population and curb the problems that arise as a result.

Asia brings together the best-of-breed technologies and solutions at its annual tradeshows CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia, uncovering how disruptive technologies in the amalgamation of Smart Cities – including Financial Technology, Cyber Security and energy efficiency among others – have come together to build a ‘Smarter’ City.

When we first showcased Smart City technologies and solutions at CommunicAsia, what started out as an idea has quickly become a reality. Advancements in technology have made it possible for cities to interlink as city leaders now provide a seamless and improved experience, and overall positive impact on the lives of citizens and residents in their work, life and play.

Take Singapore, the home of CommunicAsia, for example. Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a whole new level, the island city-state announced last year it would deploy sensors and cameras that will allow the Government to collect data and monitor everything, from air quality and cleanliness of public spaces, to crowd density, road conditions and even sensors tailored for families to monitor movements of their elderly. It didn’t get voted the world’s smartest city by Juniper Research in 2016 for no reason!

Other examples include Hubli in India, Seoul in South Korea, and Kashiwa-no-ha in Japan. Residents of Hubli, a fast-growing city in India, face unpredictable water supply and hence receive alerts when clean water is available. In Seoul, strides in cyber security have meant that since 2008, children, the disabled and elderly are voluntarily equipped with a smart device that works on combining location-based services and CCTV technologies. When the user steps outside a designated safe zone or push an emergency button, an alert is sent to guardians, police and fire departments. Kashiwa-no-ha operates an energy management system through a ‘Smart Center’ that oversees energy operations, management, and control for the entire town using wheeling throughout the area to cut peak power consumption by 26 per cent, helping to conserve energy and cut CO2 emissions.

But it’s not stopping there. Asian cities are taking it in their strides to connect the unconnected, and soon to be “smartened” are New Delhi in India, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Bandung in Indonesia, and 122 others across the continent.

As planners across the region continue to seek smart solutions to urban challenges, there is huge financial potential for these enhancements, as well as health and safety benefits. The top 600 urban centres generate 60 per cent of global GDP, with the market expected to be worth USD 1.4 trillion by 2020.

We may still be a long way from reaching that utopian goal of driverless pods being the status quo, but for now, Smart Cities are vital to sustain Asia’s growing urban population. To continue providing residents with effective and efficient solutions, cities must continue to evolve and incorporate technologies and innovations into their future. We are looking forward to seeing the next wave of advances that will soon come to Asian cities. In the meantime, we hope you can visit CommunicAsia from 23 to 25 May 2017 and see for yourself some of the disruptive innovations transforming Smart Cities and amass valuable insights from some of industry’s foremost industry experts in the field.

Victor Wong is Project Director of Communications Events at UBM SES, organiser of CommunicAsia2017.