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Tech Adoption and the Rise of Southeast Asia’s Smart Cities

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January 25 2023

Tech Adoption and the Rise of Southeast Asia’s Smart Cities

Smart city developments encourage greater efficiency and wellbeing across Southeast Asia. See how solutions like Ultimo are facilitating such progress throughout the region.

In 2018, McKinsey published a discussion paper that began its executive summary with: “Southeast Asia’s future is inextricably tied to the fate of its cities.”
That statement holds more truth today than it ever has.
The region is experiencing an unprecedented shift in its urban landscape, driven by a variety of factors, including rapid population growth and economic development. This has led to the emergence of “smart cities” in Southeast Asia that are leveraging technology to make their citizens’ lives easier and more efficient.

What is a smart city?
Smart cities use a combination of sensors, Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics platforms, cloud computing systems and other technologies to collect data from various sources that can then be used for decision-making purposes.

The 2021 Smart City Index, created by the Institute for Management Development and the Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD), lists Singapore at the very top. The city earned a AAA rating in both structure and technology.

The top ten list featured:

  1. Singapore
  2. Zurich
  3. Oslo
  4. Taipei City
  5. Lausanne
  6. Helsinki
  7. Copenhagen
  8. Geneva
  9. Auckland, and
  10. Bilbao

But rising incredibly quickly are many other Southeast Asian cities, as more investment and innovation pours into the region.

What benefits can a smart city offer?
Smart cities offer many benefits, from improved efficiency and safety to increased quality of life.

Public safety
With the ever-evolving IoT ecosystem, public safety can be greatly improved. Street lights, traffic signals, intersections, and emergency vehicles can all be improved by adding sensors, which can be used to detect accidents or other hazards.

In Singapore, a “Smart Street Lighting” system was implemented that allows the streetlights to be dimmed when there is no traffic and brightened when it senses movement. This has reduced energy consumption while increasing public safety.

Solutions like Ultimo from OneConnect Financial Technology can help to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, as well as improve public transportation systems. This can be done by integrating sensors into the infrastructure of roads to measure traffic volume and optimise it so that unnecessary stops or lengthy detours are avoided.

In addition, AI can be used to plan routes for delivery vehicles to minimise fuel consumption.

Energy optimisation
Smart cities can also make use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Sensors can be used to monitor energy usage and optimise it to reduce costs. Smart grids are also being implemented in some areas that allow for the efficient distribution of electricity throughout a city.

Financial services
The financial sector in smart cities is also being revolutionised. With the advent of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, financial services can be optimised to allow for faster and more secure payments, as well as reduce fraud. In addition, AI and analytics are being used by fintech companies to provide personalised financial advice to citizens to help them make better decisions about their finances.

Final thoughts
If the future of Southeast Asia is inextricably tied to the fate of its cities, then it’s clear that smart cities are the way forward. With increased investment, innovation, and adoption of technology, more cities in the region will be able to enjoy the many benefits that come with being a smart city.

It remains to be seen how far this trend will go, but there is no doubt that Southeast Asia’s cities have already taken giant steps towards becoming smarter and more efficient.

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