The world’s growing population is increasingly moving to urban areas. This trend is particularly relevant to APAC, where more than half of the planet’s mega-cities are situated. With more and more people living in the same area of land, new solutions are needed to keep things running smoothly.
Enter the smart cities concept.
There’s plenty of APAC smart city activity, as witnessed by the region accounting for the largest share of spending in IoT. So let’s take a deeper look at some of the areas where smart cities are making headlines:
In 2016, the Australian government launched a Smart Cities Plan focusing on investment, policy and technology. One example is the ‘Future Transport Technology’ program. This this has led to the installation of smart beacons which guide blind and visually impaired people as they navigate through the city.
Telstra recently announced plans to ‘trial and deploy’ a smart cities-focused IoT project in western Australia. The telecoms provider will install solutions such as environmental sensors, monitoring temperature, humidity, pollution, light and noise. The council will also gain real-time data for civic issues. For example, redirecting traffic during rush hour, and receiving notifications when bins need emptying.
A blueprint for making Hong Kong a smart city is due by mid-2017. Many smart city-related tests will take place in Kowloon East, a core business district and area designated for trialling innovations. These include smart parking to guide drivers to empty spaces, smart waste bins which detect when they’re full, plus a water quality monitor – predicting E coli risks.
Other ‘proof of concept’ trials to be tested include using big data for tackling Hong Kong’s air pollution. A group of university academics developed an ‘air pollution decision support system’ which aggregates data from multiple sources, to monitor air pollutants in real-time. The aim is for the government to better understand what causes pollution and take preventative action.
Japan is collaborating with the European Union on a cloud-based open data platform. City-Platform-As-A-Service (CPaaS) aims to link open government data with technologies such as big data, IoT, and cloud. Cities and private companies will then be able to develop applications and services to support smart city infrastructure.
March this year saw Tokyo step up its activities regarding smart cities and Industry 4.0. Its Metropolitan Government is inviting companies – those specialising in IoT, big data and Artificial Intelligence – to set up headquarters and research centres in Japan’s capital. Benefits to interested parties include: free business consultancy, a new subsidy programme, and reduced visa requirements for foreigners.
Singapore aims to take the smart city concept further, by becoming the world’s first Smart Nation. This initiative ‘strives to facilitate innovations by the public and the private sector’, with the government providing a legislative framework to support and enable solutions for urban cities’ growth.
Sensors and cameras will monitor how the country is functioning, and send data to an online platform: Virtual Singapore. Described as an ‘urban dashboard’, the government will use the technology to crunch data and predict reactions – everything from how infectious diseases might spread, to how crowds would react to a bomb explosion.
Data centres as enablers
Naturally, data is integral to the success of these smart city projects. And regions which are still to embrace smart cities can use the data to learn from previous projects, to see what worked and apply the learnings to their own initiatives. This will further speed up development. It’s clear that APAC is on the right road. It’s up to data centres to support the journey.