Smart Cities

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The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) announced plans to officially announce the first batch of four smart cities designated under its development scheme at Thailand Smart City Week scheduled for mid-October 2020.

These four smart cities have met five categories for smart city transformation. They are given two years for development to become smart cities. The Depa president and chief executive stated that if these four designated cities fail to meet the smart city requirements within two years, they would have their smart city certificates revoked.

There are five categories for smart city consideration. First, they must have a clear geographical boundary. Second, they need to have infrastructure investment and development plans. Third, they have to design an open and secure city data platform. Fourth, they must have a sustainable management model. Finally, they need to come up with smart city solutions in any or all of seven dimensions: economy, mobility, energy, living, people, governance; and environment.

The Depa President stated that the smart city development project is part of the government’s 20-year national development strategy to create liveable cities with an eco-friendly landscape. The government wants to see 100 smart cities by 2024, he said.

The Depa collaborated with partners to hold Thailand Smart City Week 2020 showcasing digital technologies to steer people-centric smart city development from 16 to 22 October. The event, which was held in both online and offline formats, aimed to attract 50,000 participants for the virtual event and 200,000 for offline showcases.

The physical event was held at True Digital Park, Samyan Mitrtown and the Depa office. The online content from the event will be kept on the websites for a year.

The event offered space for business negotiation, while activities included Smart City Plays, which demonstrated digital technology and innovation adoption. Meanwhile, at Smart City Learns, experts shared knowledge and ideas about smart cities. The Smart City Week also hosted a hackathon for people seeking the right digital solutions. Another activity is Smart City Meets, which exhibits advanced digital technologies and innovations created to accelerate smart city development.

Several cities in seven provinces have been committed to pursuing smart city development. They are in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri, Rayong, Bangkok and Chachoengsao.

According to another article, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), presided over the opening of Thailand Smart City Week 2020, stated that Thailand Smart City Week 2020 aims to move Thailand forward to become a world-class smart city as well as driving the development of smart cities in Thailand and abroad.

The event serves as the bridge to connect people in general with the advanced technologies and innovations to facilitate the smart urbanization, technological adoptions and digital transformations. The ultimate goal is to enhance economic and social development sustainably.

Smart city development is regarded as a global agenda that people around the world are greatly interested in as it is fundamental for economic and social development. Smart city development will be driven by the collaboration between state agencies, officials and local people in each designated area, particularly the public and private sectors.

The aim is to achieve the same ambitious goal to develop a more liveable, modern city with a commitment to helping people have a better quality of life. The Depa has always prioritized and carried out a smart city development policy in alignment with the 20-year national development strategy.

Meanwhile, the MDES laid out the highly-efficient digital infrastructure across the country as part of the roadmap to Thailand 4.0 model. Therefore, smart city development is the government’s core mechanism initiated to help narrow society disparities as well as helping to promote a fairly distributed growth and prosperities in each region across the country, he added.

The ongoing pandemic has been a catalyst and accelerator of innovation, especially of the digital type. In the Philippines, this is epitomised by Baguio City as it pushes forward with its goal of building the first Smart City in the country.

Baguio, on the Philippines’ Luzon island, is a mountain town of universities and resorts often referred to as the “City of Pines”. It’s mission: to create a sustainable and enabling environment that will promote economic stability and ensure the general well-being of our citizenry.

“I envision Baguio as a SMART City where various types of electronic methods are used to manage the Summer Capital’s assets, resources and to provide even more efficient and effective services to the public,” said Mayor Magalong.

After several investments in technology for digital governance, crowd density monitoring, and real-time weather prediction, the city has engaged the services of a digital multinational to create its Integrated Command and Control Center. The mayor said he was confident that the international organisation’s participation would help the city realise its goal of digital governance where residents can engage in “contactless” transactions with the government and much more.

Smart Cities are not a vision of the future – they are here and now, and Baguio City is leading this initiative in the Philippines, agreed the Managing Director of the partner organisation, who is excited to help Mayor Magalong and his team realise this vision for not just a smart but a safe and thriving city.

While investments in technology can enhance public services and governance, a true Smart City must have the capability to gather data and use insights to manage assets, resources and services efficiently. The planned Integrated Command and Control Center will serve as Baguio City’s monitoring centre and coordination office all-in-one. It will be operated by a combined force from the CDRRMO, Police, Fire Services, Health and EMS Departments.

Baguio will be installing a holistic and integrated Smart City platform which includes the Command and Control Centre, an Integrated Communication Platform (ICP), a Video Management System (VMS) with Video Analytics, Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Geographical Information System (GIS) and big data analytics for the city of Baguio.

Ultimately, Baguio City will be able to closely monitor and respond to incidents in the community, improving peace, order and safety for its citizens. Baguio City will also be able to better manage and respond to citizen complaints and feedback with the integration of its Smart City app launched earlier this year.

“The shift to being a Smart City is not easy and there are many challenges that we need to overcome, but for country leaders who are determined to enact a vision, this innovation is well within reach,” said Ilagan. “We are excited about the work we are doing with Baguio City and we hope that more cities will take that bold step towards building an inclusive future for the Filipino.”

Baguio’s goals are in line with the country’s digital ambitions. OpenGov Asia reported on the launch of the Philippines Digital Cities 2025 initiative in mid-2020. Under the initiative, 25 digital cities in the were named as the centres of focus for new economic development in the next three years.

The initiative is geared to sustain the rapid growth of the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector and promote countryside development. The IT-BPM sector continues to be a priority for DICT, and it is ready to support and take the lead in making the necessary interventions to ensure that these digital cities achieve their potential, the press release stated.

Digital Cities 2025 will help focal areas promote local participation to strengthen their economies and governance systems in the ‘new normal’, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, noted.

The Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab, Southeast Asia’s first industry-led lab for smart cities solutions development, initiated by CapitaLand and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Enterprise Singapore, was officially opened yesterday by Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran.

CapitaLand and industry partners commit up to S$10 million in innovation lab

The Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab will bring together leaders in the smart cities space to co-create and test innovations with local built environment and technology enterprises in a live environment at CapitaLand’s 5G enabled Singapore Science Park.

CapitaLand, together with its industry partners, has committed up to S$10 million in the Lab as a start to catalyse development and deployment of smart cities solutions in Singapore and overseas.

The Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab, powered by the latest technologies and 5G connectivity, is set to benefit some 200 companies in Singapore over the next three years.

Located at The Galen at Singapore Science Park, the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab is envisioned to be a key nexus of business partnerships and opportunities. The Lab will function as a resource integrator of various ecosystem players – local technology startups, system integrators and global corporate enterprises – to co-create solutions for smart cities, from ideation to testing to commercialisation.

Ms Eunice Koh, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Singapore, said: “The COVID19 pandemic has accelerated the demand for sustainable urban solutions that contribute to the building of resilient and safe cities of tomorrow. Through the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab, smart tech providers can work on innovative solutions that have the potential to change people’s lives for the better. For instance, Smarten Spaces, a Singapore SME tech provider introduced by Enterprise Singapore, has been working with KONE on unique innovations that use contactless and other technologies to help building owners and managers provide a safe work environment for their tenants and employees. We will continue to work with our SMEs to tap on such opportunities and find the right partners to scale their solutions.”

Industry and government work together to co-create smart cities solutions

Currently, the Lab has secured 30 industry players such as Amazon Web Services, Cisco Systems, Johnson Controls, Microsoft, MooVita, NavInfo DataTech, Schneider Electric, SPTel, TPG Telecom and Vizzio.AI, to commit to partnering local firms to co-innovate, test ideas in the Lab or pilot trials at the 55-hectare Singapore Science Park, the largest site in Singapore for trials of smart cities solutions.

Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, IMDA, said: “The Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab reinforces Singapore’s strengths as a deep innovation ecosystem where tech, industry and government work together to co-create and accelerate solutions for smart cities solutions.The Lab is starting strong with 30 partners including major industry players and promising local enterprises coming onboard along with CapitaLand. These are the new opportunities we are seizing in a digital economy, that will enable us to emerge stronger.”

The Lab will focus on six key industry verticals of advanced manufacturing, digital wellness, intelligent estates, smart mobility, sustainability, and urban agriculture.

Vietnam has seen a rapid blossoming of its city areas with the urbanisation rate shooting up from 19.6% in 2009 (629 urban areas) to about 39.25 by the beginning of 2020 (835 urban areas in December 2019).

The Vietnam government is paying close attention to developing smart cities. Many agreements have been signed between Vietnam and important partners such as countries and organisations that have successfully developed smart cities, including the Netherlands, South Korea and India. Most recently, an agreement was signed to develop the ASEAN smart urban network.

Domestically, several state-owned entities have forayed into this sector. In fact, by the first quarter of this year, an additional 35 central cities and provinces had signed strategic cooperation agreements with telecom groups on building smart cities. Military telco Viettel has signed cooperation agreements with 24 localities while the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT) have gone ahead with agreements with another 20 localities.

After Vietnam joined ASCN (ASEAN Smart Cities Network) in two years ago, the Vietnam Smart City Development Project (2018-2025) was released with a vision until 2030. The project has three priority areas – programming smart cities, managing smart cities and smart urban utilities.

Minister of Construction, Pham Hong Ha, said Vietnam will implement the tasks and solutions set in the Vietnam Smart City Development project in 2018-2025. These include a legal framework for the development of smart cities as well as management of tools, institutions and mechanisms for cooperation between ministries and branches, between the central and local government, to ensure smart cities throughout the country and avoid waste in using resources.

Using a linked database, many cities in Vietnam had initial success in providing smart utilities in the fields of education, healthcare, transportation, construction environment.  Step-by-step, inclusively, these cities have been optimising urban management, improving the quality of urban residential life and creating opportunities for human development.

Hanoi, for example, is developing a parking system that allows people to find suitable parking places, payment through apps on smartphones and a digital transport map to manage urban traffic.

Driving development towards sustainability, the Bac Ha Noi (Northern Hanoi) Smart City project, covering an area of 272 hectares in Dong Anh district, is expected to improve transport infrastructure, energy, education, healthcare and environment on a digital technology basis,

Meanwhile, HCM City is building a big data infrastructure system, data control centre, security control centre and open data system. It is planning to build smart solutions for healthcare, food safety, education, traffic management and flood control.

Da Nang leads the country in readiness for ICT development and application. Da Nang has been hailed as a leader in applying IT in state agencies. As early as 2018, the Da Nang People’s Committee issued the Overall Architecture of Smart City and Smart City Construction Plan for 2018-2025.

Minister Ha said developing smart cities is in line with international trends, takes full advantage of the achievements of the Industry 4.0 and is in line with the country’s ambitions.

Experts emphasise that lack of reasonable policies will make it difficult for local authorities to seek resources for smart city development, especially capital from the state budget. They believe that Vietnam needs to be cautious when developing smart cities, and not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Central Economic Commission, said it is necessary to have an ‘open and creative’ approach when developing smart cities.

Smart cities should be developed with people in the centre, and be based on specific characteristics of each city. Before applying a development model, each city needs to check its resources and advantages and ascertain where and what it needs for each stage to effectively use existing facilities and investment resources.

The Singapore Government have announced a $49 million Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative at the Singapore International Energy Week 2020. It will support research, development and demonstration projects in low-carbon energy technologies such as hydrogen; and carbon capture, utilisation and storage over the next five years.

These efforts aim to accelerate the technical and economic viability of such emerging technologies to reduce Singapore’s carbon emissions, particularly for emissions-intensive areas like the power and industrial sectors.

Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing said, “Hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilisation and storage, are promising technologies that have the potential to transform Singapore’s energy landscape and help us achieve our long-term emissions reduction goals. This new funding initiative strengthens our current efforts, and will accelerate our transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.”

Research projects could include technologies that enable the effective capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from low-concentration emission sources in the industrial and power sectors, and to convert the CO2 into useful products such as building materials, reclamation sand and synthetic fuels.

Test-beds for emerging technologies, such as the blending of low-carbon hydrogen with natural gas in combined cycle gas turbines, will reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation. These test-beds could yield insights in applying low carbon technologies in Singapore’s context, and facilitate future deployment.

Multi Government Agency Initiative

This funding initiative is a multi-agency involving the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Energy Market Authority (EMA), the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). It will be co-driven by EDB and EMA to ensure projects are relevant to the industrial and power sectors, with A*STAR as the implementing agency on behalf of the Government.

This initiative seeks to build a more sustainable energy future by harnessing the four switches of energy supply, one of which is the use of low-carbon alternatives. It supports Singapore’s vision for a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and HTX have developed, and are currently testing out, a training system known as the Enhanced Live Firing Range System – ELFRAS, that is aimed at enhancing firearm training delivery.

The system uses multiple sensors and analytics to improve the shooting performance of officers undergoing firearm training. This is also in line with the Home Team’s (HT) drive to better leverage technology to enhance learning outcomes for HT officers.

The sensors capture human factors such as weapon handling, breathing, shooting posture, gaze fixation and visual alignment. An embedded Advance Performance Enhancement & Analysis Range System (APEARS) software analyses data collected through these sensors and provides real-time recommendations to help improve the officer’s subsequent shots.

The features of the sensors are as follow:

Weapon Handling. A sensor attached to the weapon tracks the movement of the weapon before, during and after the trigger is pulled. It also identifies trigger pulling techniques applied by the officer.

Breathing. A sensor, fixed at the shooting lane, tracks and shows whether the officer’s breathing technique affects the movement of his weapon while firing.

Gaze Fixation. A sensor in the form of a pair of spectacles tracks the officer’s eyes during firing, including whether the officer focuses on his aiming or blinks his eyes while firing.

Shooting Posture.A body posture camera, fixed at the shooting lane, captures the officer’s body movement and compares it against the recommended shooting postures.

The Human Factors and Simulation Centre of Expertise (HFS CoE) of HTX worked with SPF to identify the full spectrum of performance-related human factors indices and to define the engineering design to instrument the shooting lane with these sensors.

Ying Meng Fai, Acting Director of the HFS CoE said, “The system provides information on the shots and real-time analysis of human factor indices such as weapon handling, breathing, shooting posture, and visual alignment. This way, timely and targeted feedback can be provided to the officers to improve their proficiency.”

The ELFRAS system also features a target sensor system that performs automated scoring, captures and displays the location where each shot lands on the target board in real-time.

This information, together with recommendations generated by the APEARS software, is presented on display panels placed beside and above the officer, to provide both officer and trainer immediate insights on the shooting performance.

This allows the trainer to provide comprehensive and timely guidance to the officer. The team has also designed an intuitive ‘one glance’ user interface for ELFRAS which enables the trainer and trainee to rapidly visualise and mitigate critical performance gaps.

Superintendent Joseph Yoong, Head of the Instructional Technology Division of the SPF Training and Capability Development Department, and member of the ELFRAS project team, said, “As part of our efforts to be a learning force with world class training, the Singapore Police Force leverages technology, such as ELFRAS during firearms training, to enhance our training delivery and effectiveness, so as to better prepare our officers for their work at the frontline.”

Currently, the project is undergoing a trial at the Home Team Academy live firing range. The trial which started in June 2020 is expected to end in February 2021. The trial is conducted with selected officers undergoing pistol and revolver training.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: HTX

A ceremony was held in the central city of Da Nang on October 10 to start the construction of the city’s second Software Park.

This is a significant project aimed at boosting the city’s IT industry and improving the investment environment as well as creating further momentum for economic growth, start-ups and innovation in the city. The move forms part of the city’s effort to realise its goal of developing a smart city by 2030 and becoming a smart metropolis, a centre for startups and innovation and a livable coastal city by 2045.

The city started construction on the first phase of the park worth more than US$ 30.4 million at Hai Chau district. The project will cover a total area of more than 28,500 square metres in Nhu Nguyet Street, Thuan Phuoc Ward, Hai Chau District. The project has a total investment of over VND 700 billion (US$ 30.5 million) and is scheduled to be completed in under two years.

The park will house a 20-storey ICT office building with a total internal floor area of more than 26,000 sqm and two 8-storey ICT office blocks with a combined internal floor area of nearly 66,500 sqm. Once completed, Software Park No 2 is expected to accommodate a total of about 6,000 employees.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vice Chairman of the Da Nang municipal People’s Committee, Ho Ky Minh, said the project aimed to boost the development of Da Nang’s software industry. The Danang Software Park has been officially recognised as the third “central information technology centre in Vietnam, with the other two located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The first Da Nang Software Park, located in downtown Da Nang, comprises two buildings with a total of 10,000 square meters of space. Currently, the Park is home to 75 IT businesses, including 25 international companies who employ 2,400+ people. The Park is significant for not only the employment it has generated but also for the over US$ 80 million it has attracted in investment from the companies that operate in it.

Trần Quang Thanh, the director of Danang City’s IT division said that the park is a key centre for the IT industry and has helped boost the city’s efforts in the areas of e-governance.

According to Danang government reports, the IT and communications industry accounts for 700 businesses and employ 22,000 people. Danang’s IT industry is expected to enjoy double-digit growth across the next 3 ~ 5 years as more companies in Vietnam and internationally move into the Business 4.0 era.

Danang has been steadily implementing IT and eco-friendly systems into its area. Notable among these has been the development of “smart city solutions” which it is implementing with a goal of making government and citizen interactions more efficient and transparent.

The city is working with companies in the areas of IT applications and infrastructure, communications companies and human resources companies. Danang’s IT industry is expected to generate significant revenues from software exports and the city is anxious to see the expansion of companies and jobs in the IT sector. Their reputation of being a clean city that offers employees attractive work with higher than average incomes and contributes to the city’s image as the “Smartest & Most Livable City” in Vietnam.

To this end, the city is calling for investment in more software parks and is looking at other initiatives that will expand the IT industry.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the city government of Baguio have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) for a partnership to establish a broadband network and provide free Wi-Fi /internet services in public places in the city.

The MoA signing was held last week at the Baguio Convention Centre with DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan and Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a press release informed. Honasan noted that apart from DICT’s mandate under Free Wi-Fi for All and the National Broadband Program, President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the agency to ramp up connectivity. More daily services and activities are taking place online, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, where online transactions and communications play an important role.

Honasan explained that the trend towards digitalisation is one of the most urgent concerns that the government needs to tackle in the new normal.  The recognition of this need is at the heart of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s instructions for DICT- to connect the government to other governments, domestic and global, government to businesses, government to citizens, and everybody to each other.

The MoA between DICT and the city government of Baguio aims to facilitate and accelerate, through cooperative efforts, the implementation and roll-out of free internet access in all public places of the city. It is as mandated by the Free Internet in Public Places Act.

Under the partnership, DICT will provide infrastructure and technical support to the city as it establishes the Baguio Broadband Program, which, apart from the provision of free Wi-Fi in public places, will also ensure the connectivity of national line agencies and local government offices.

The release further noted that Mayor Magalong, on behalf of the city government of Baguio, expressed gratitude to DICT for the partnership, as it will help bring in the National Broadband Program to the city of Baguio and connect it with its ‘SMART City System’ plan.

The Mayor stated that soon, Baguio City will start the construction of the smart city system and DICT’s infrastructure support will be important in ensuring that the system will be running efficiently. Through the system, the city government can provide free internet access to government agencies and public places. More importantly, it will help facilitate the online learning of the blended education programs that are being implemented by schools.

Local government units (LGUs) from across the country are ramping up connectivity services for students to benefit from online learning courses. Recently, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced it plans to issue a supplemental policy to prevent, detect, report, and handle child protection issues in home-based learning as the school year is set to start on 5 October.

In a press release, DepEd noted it recognised that there are threats and dangers to the privacy, security, and safety of children in the cyberworld, especially during this time when online learning is one of the learning delivery modalities and children spend considerable time online.

The supplemental policy will strengthen the existing mechanisms on child protection and include the recommendations of the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OC) on the use of video conferencing in online classes.

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