Southeast Asia’s digital transformation is creating the platform for developing innovative urban areas. Technology and sensors that collect or transfer data, among other tech, are fully integrated in these modern towns. At the 32nd regional summit in 2018, leaders set up the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), a platform where the member countries would work towards building smart and sustainable development in pilot locations in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. 

The global smart cities market is expected to reach US$873.7 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8%. For a smart and internet-connected city to work in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), there must be IT infrastructure development, public-private partnerships, and scalability. Stakeholders and suppliers must collaborate to ensure adequate city planning, modelling, and use of sustainable raw materials. 

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Furthermore, data processing, analytics, and efficient cybersecurity practices are essential to protect people’s information. Here are several smart cities in Southeast Asia that can kickstart your startups:

Singapore City, Singapore

Since Singapore is one of the leading technologically advanced countries, its core targets for its smart city are evident and direct. They include creating integrated government services, making data-driven policy decisions, improving business efficiency by digitalising industries, and democratising access to technology for its citizens.

It faces challenges like reducing costs of handling transactions, integrating ePayments, building tech-ready industries, developing next-generation infrastructure, and ramping up its cybersecurity. The technologies Singapore seeks to implement or enhance include seamless and integrated payment platforms, cross-border trading systems, and national digital identities.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Kuala Lumpur Smart City Plan aims to make the area competitive in line with international standards, such as meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, it focuses on promoting a digital economy.

It encourages connected and empowered communities, vibrant living, low carbon and clean environment, and intellectual communities. Plus, it tries to create an integrated government, efficient mobility, and digital networks. Some of the technology implemented includes traffic management, eCommerce, data analytics, pollution control, green buildings, and more.

However, it faces challenges like pollution and solid waste management, fibre optic readiness, non-renewable energy, smart home pricing, data sharing and integrity, and traffic congestion.

Phuket Smart City Project

Since Phuket relies on tourism for its revenue, its goal is to bring sustainability tothe industry. It focuses on promoting trade and commerce, preventing crime through CCTV analytics, reducing crime by 50%, and establishing social and utility solutions catering to tourists. 

Its challenges revolve around developing public utilities to manage water, waste, and electricity better, receiving technical support for its projects, and cybersecurity for face recognition tools. It aims to move about 80% of the solutions online and reduce operational costs by 25%

The technologies for the city project include real-time info collection, free WiFi, and a city data platform, which enables administrators to manage the area, plan the infrastructure and amenities, and provide valuable insights to startups. Phuket also intends to encourage private firms to help the government set up and maximise the coverage area for CCTVs.

New Clark City, Philippines

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) intends to accelerate growth in Central Luzon by turning New Clark City into a sustainable, smart, and inclusive location in the Philippines. These improvements will also create jobs, thereby lifting Filipinos out of poverty. It focuses on eco-friendly development, renewable energy, tourism, intelligent city technologies, and other aspects.

It faces a challenge in obtaining support from its private and public sector partners. The COVID-19 pandemic also brought many project delays. Nevertheless, there are technologies for automation, real-time estate management, mobility solutions, data management centres, state-of-the-art security systems, and more.

Hanoi, Vietnam

The Hanoi project seeks to develop a green, modern, and harmonious living area to improve the quality of life for its residents. It has an intelligent operations centre analysing data, protecting information, controlling traffic, and preventing crimes in public. 

Its technologies include integrated transportation to improve traffic conditions, electronic traffic signage, security monitoring software, tourist details integration, travel portals and maps, and smart energy, health, environment, and education solutions.

The challenges to address are specific targets for 2030. They include improving the quality of life, streamlining urban management, facilitating sustainable tourism, protecting the environment, and ensuring safety for its people.

Developing smart cities in Southeast Asia will require the intelligent application of data and technology. Civil engineers must collect and analyse information to manage infrastructure projects and design public areas, structures, and housing that the population can appreciate. Furthermore, the buildings must be resilient to survive manufactured and natural disasters.

Overall, smart cities will change the region and the world, creating environmentally friendly, energy-efficient spaces built with sustainable materials. Startup founders should focus on establishing eco-friendly businesses that can convert data into actionable insights to improve the company and generate more revenue.