How to Support the Development of Smart Cities in Asia-Pacific

May 18, 2017

Asia is experiencing exceptionally high rates of urbanisation and population growth. As pointed out by the World Bank Group, the number of people in South Asia’s cities rose by 130 million between 2000 and 2011-more than the entire population of Japan. Facing new and pressing challenges, urban planners are increasingly turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) to create smart cities that alleviate the pressures of urban life.

Smart city projects can provide substantial and long-term improvements to the environment, the economy, safety and human happiness. Yet undertaking a new smart city project can be a complex and daunting task for the urban planner, especially where city officials lack an understanding of IoT technology or there is pressure to deliver early results.

The GSMA’s latest smart cities report Maximising the Smart Cities Opportunity: Recommendations for Asia-Pacific policymakers identifies many ways in which policy can be designed to ease the development of smart cities. Central to the report is its list of fundamental measures policymakers should consider when implementing smart city solutions, such as adopting an agile and flexible institutional framework, appointing key stakeholders, communicating the aims of the project to the wider community, stimulating innovation via transparency and the exploration of new funding models.

The report provides case studies of cities that have transformed their services by adopting such recommendations. The ancient city of Tainan is a clear example of how the implementation of low cost IoT technologies can create economic and environmental improvements. To improve its response to – and management of – extreme weather, the national Water Resource Agency is working with the City and mobile network operator Far East Tone to improve flood control and disaster recovery measures. By using mobile communication services, monitoring devices, and surveillance technologies, the national Water Resource Agency has been able to enhance its planning and respond to extreme weather events. The effect of this has been the reduction and avoidance of flooding, thereby significantly mitigating damage to property, and even reduce the risk of loss of life.

The report also covers how policymakers can harness the power of the emerging Mobile IoT; low power wide area (LPWA) networks in licensed spectrum. This new family of technologies, which offers very low power consumption (long battery lives), can operate in hard to reach locations and can be implemented at relatively low cost, will be one of the key drivers of smart cities in the years to come.

Due to their long experience of working in multiple sectors and regions, mobile network operators are ideally suited to support policymakers in Asia who are seeking smart city solutions.  To find out more about how they can support policymakers with the deployment of smart city solutions, download Maximising the Smart Cities Opportunity: Recommendations for Asia-Pacific policymakers.

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