Smart Cities in ASEAN:
Powering good Amidst Tough Times
As Thailand emerges from the Covid-19 crisis, it will need to explore new avenues for economic development and new ways of urban planning and management. Given the growing needs of its increasingly affluent but also rapidly ageing population, Thailand will also need to explore the ways to improve the lives of its citizens.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Thailand’s old-age dependency ratio is expected to rise to more than 50% by 2050, while the proportion of its population that is aged 65 and above is expected to reach 22.8% by 2035. Thailand also continues to grapple with urban problems such as traffic congestion and air pollution.
As one of the largest and most advanced economies in Southeast Asia, Thailand stands at the forefront of smart city transformations in the region. This is reflected in recent news that 27 Thai cities would be inducted into Mastercard’s City Possible global network.
In light of the pandemic, Deputy Minister Prawit Wongsuwon also announced on 13 May 2020 that the government would push ahead with its smart city pilot projects. These projects aim to improve citizens’ quality of life and reduce social disparity.
One of the four locations selected to implement smart city pilot projects is the Eastern Economic Corridor. The EEC forms a key component of “Thailand 4.0”, a long-term national economic plan that emphasises the use of technology and innovation in creating an inclusive and value-based economy.
Under the Thailand 4.0 plan, Thailand aims to achieve 100 smart cities by 2022. The EEC therefore represents the first step in a broad and ambitious plan to digitise Thailand’s cities. This will bring forth massive business opportunities and give rise to significant improvements to citizens’ lives.
With 110 years of experience in operational technology and 60 years of experience in the information technology industry, Hitachi has developed an extensive network of global partners that is focused on co-developing technological solutions to address emerging economic and societal needs. It is therefore well placed to contribute to Thailand’s smart city drive.
One key way that Hitachi has sought to do so is through the establishment of Lumada Center Southeast Asia, a cutting edge IoT center which provides the space to co-create digital solutions with customers to produce customised digital solutions. Located in Chonburi, one of the EEC’s three smart cities, the Lumada Center plays a key role in Thailand’s smart city ecosystem by providing businesses with digital solutions that are relevant to their needs. With the addition of the Lumada Center Bangkok Annex which opened in October 2020, Hitachi now has more avenues in providing customised digital solutions for business partners both in Thailand and in Southeast Asia.
Aside from the Lumada Center, Hitachi is also involved in the development of smart city services in Bangkok. With its expertise in smart city planning and smart infrastructure, Hitachi is involved in developing the design and technical aspects of a smart city sensor grid and smart city platform. A smart city platform represents the ‘brain’ of a smart city, a sensor grid can be thought of as its ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’.
Technology is the lifeblood of a smart city. In order to ensure the success of Thailand’s smart cities, there needs to be a pipeline of technological innovations, driven by leading technological firms such as Hitachi.
Hitachi has been involved in a smart city research project in Bangkok that seeks to understand how different data sources can be combined to make future predictions about key urban challenges such as climate change and traffic. By developing a data platform that can collate, visualise and analyse a range of historical and real-time data from multiple sources, city governments will be able to make more accurate predictions of what cities may face in the immediate and long-term future.
To this end, Hitachi is exploring a broader set of digital solutions and possibilities that will contribute to smart city living and governance. Some of these solutions include powered exoskeletons that can multiply the physical efforts of urban farmers, on-demand 3D printing production units for micro made-to-order production, and IoT cloud-based facility management services, among many others.
These technologies will help expand the horizons of smart city living and innovation beyond existing smart city solutions, enhancing the lives of citizens who work and live within these smart cities.
As a digital solutions provider that is focused on powering good, Hitachi is committed to the development of sustainable and people-centric smart cities in Thailand and beyond.
Smart cities provide an important way through which the lives of citizens can be improved and new economic opportunities can be uncovered. By addressing emergent economic and environmental challenges, digital services and technologies can also help future-proof smart cities against future crises and challenges.
By making its cities more efficient and sustainable through digital technology and IoT-enhanced infrastructure, Thailand’s smart cities hold many possibilities from reducing traffic congestion, improving public safety, to enhancing public health. At the same time, smart cities can allow Thailand to further expand its foray into the new digital economy, giving rise to new business opportunities for its businesses and entrepreneurs.
As a leader in Social Innovation and urban solutions, Hitachi hopes to continue playing a supporting role in this transformation. By combining its strengths in information technology and infrastructure development and planning, Hitachi aims to develop integrated urban solutions that address the technological, economic and social dimensions of smart city development.
The advent of the new digital economy will give rise to the proliferation of smart cities across Southeast Asia and beyond. By taking a social innovation and people-centric approach, Thailand’s smart cities can truly stand out from the competition. This will require taking a social innovation approach that is focused on powering good, above simply powering the economy or the city.
This advertorial was written in collaboration with Woo Jun Jie, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
- iStock.com/Aleksandr Sokolov
- iStock.com/Panuwat Dangsungnoen
Date of Release: March 2021