Asia-Pacific is leading the world’s smart city evolution, with a number of cities across the region rolling out smart city initiatives and investing to build a better place for their people to live and work. In fact, a staggering $63.4 billion has been earmarked for investment in smart city technology in the Asia-Pacific region1, reflecting the overwhelming efforts by cities in the region to promote smart city transformations.
In this blog series, we will look at the smart city developments in the region and the innovations adopted to improve people’s lives.
Internet of Things as Backbone of a Smart City
There is one thing that many consider as the backbone of a smart city and we should discuss first – the Internet of Things (IoT). It refers to a huge network of things which are connected to the internet. Along with the wide availability of high-speed internet access and the growing number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices and sensors, IoT technology has become increasingly sophisticated, allowing connected things not only to link to the internet but also talk to each other.
As you can imagine, the increasingly sophisticated IoT technology gives rise to a massive amount of data collected from everyday objects. Mining multiple data sets with big data conjoint analytics will give us not just a single-dimensional view of the world but multi-dimensional perspectives and insights. In the context of smart cities, these insights can help better urban planning in terms of transportation systems, water and electricity supply, waste and pollution management, and more.
To build the IoT backbone of smart cities, “interconnectedness” between people, devices and systems is essential.
Getting Smart with Interconnection
In order for a city to become ‘smart’, it needs to be highly interconnected. A truly smart city requires digital infrastructures that can physically link dispersed sensors, devices and machines that make up public systems, services and experiences, so they can exchange information in real time. As a result, interconnection has a central role to play in bringing together all the applications, data, content, clouds, networks and people involved in our daily lives.
This will mean that technology can take a far more active role to offer convenience to people. For example, a digital device may draw on multiple channels of data to help us ensure we attend all our appointments or complete all the planned tasks on a given day, rather than simply sending us reminders.
Leveraging interconnected IoT ecosystems, connected devices can send an order to our local coffee lounge for pick up during our commute, let us know what time the bus will go through our neighborhood, read us the news we are most interested in or suggest what we should do before a crucial hospital appointment.
On a wider scale, the evolution of such technologies will enable governments to improve public service, whilst better serving the needs of the population and their demands for increased interconnectivity.
According to the Global Interconnection Index published by Equinix, Asia-Pacific is expected to account for 22 percent of global Interconnection Bandwidth by 2020. In the region, both governments and businesses are anticipated to put more and more efforts to build the foundation of smart cities through an interconnection-first approach.
Moving towards ‘Smart Asia-Pacific’
In kicking off this blog series, it is important to see where we are on the road to becoming a ‘Smart Asia-Pacific’. Despite the different focuses of their smart city projects, various places in the region do share one common goal in their smart city initiatives – to bring a better quality of life to their people.
Singapore, with its Smart Nation policy2, is the undisputed leader when it comes to appetite and commitment to going truly ‘smart’. Upcoming initiatives include a new 3D map project called Virtual Singapore3 which will integrate layers of data about Singapore’s buildings, land and environment to help solve problems, such as identifying flood-prone areas, while the public can also contribute data, such as traffic patterns and the locations of their favorite restaurants
The Hong Kong Government released its Smart City Blueprint4 in December last year, aiming to make use of innovation and technology to address urban challenges and improve people’s quality of living whilst supporting the city’s move towards better sustainability, efficiency and safety. To achieve this, the government announced in the recent 2018 Budget that an additional HK$50 billion will be used to support IT development in the city.
Australia, meanwhile, has introduced the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program5 via the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. It funded 49 successful projects aiming to improve the livability, productivity and sustainability of cities and towns across Australia.
In Japan, the government’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy is rolling out an Initiative for Establishing Smart Communities6 aimed at connecting all the systems involved in the provision of community resources to manage facilities smartly and provide optimum efficiency.
Going smarter together
Riding on technological breakthroughs, various places in the region are finding smarter ways to make people’s lives easier. Looking back, we have evolved from point-to-point networks to cloud, which now plays a key intermediary role in the IoT, and we are seeing the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms to help enhance existing systems and deliver smart data analysis.
In the upcoming blogs of the series, we will look at the impact of emerging technologies on life from several perspectives, including open data, smart enterprises, mobility, health, and home. Please join us throughout this Equinix blog series in which we will share our thoughts and insights on this rapidly evolving region so we continue to get smarter together.