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Building Smart and Sustainable Cities – Rejab Sulaiman

June 07, 2022
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We recognise the need to build strong foundational tech. Rejab Sulaiman speaks on how TM One addresses the immediate PBT needs in building cities that accommodate the present and future populations with its smart city solutions.

Many governments, state councils and local authorities talk about the potential of smart cities and how they unlock new possibilities in a hyper-connected urban environment. Ideas such as the sky being filled with flying taxis, robots sweeping the streets and rooftop farming on every building may seem like the epitome of human civilisation. But, is this the future we seek? The various studies into smart city concepts all lead us to one key observation, intelligence technologies will play a far more significant role in our daily routine as compared to massively disruptive ideas.

A brief look at the global smart city landscape reveals good progress in making our cities intelligent. Examples of the international efforts to build the foundations of next-gen digital playgrounds include prominent cities:

  • Barcelona boasts over 20,000 active telemetry sensors to capture surrounding data;
  • Copenhagen with a network of 380 intelligent traffic lights;
  • Cape Town reducing local crimes rates using 42 round-the-clock cameras and many others.

Malaysia is rising up to its global peers on this front. The national policies under the Malaysia Smart City Framework (MSCF), which includes MyDigital, IR4RD, JENDELA and GTMP, is set to enable the translation of blueprints into meaningful action plans.

Setting the course

From a survey held during the previous City Leap Summit 2020, TM One collected insightful grassroots data from 33 local councils or Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBTs) on smart city implementations. Results displayed that most respondents were not ready to turn plans into actions due to gaps in infrastructure, shortage of financial resources, and below-average talent capabilities.

In addition, PBTs in Malaysia focused their efforts on basic systemic issues surrounding security, safety and transportation that have already been experimented on in other countries. Out of all the solutions introduced to local leaders, smart security & surveillance, smart traffic lights and smart parking systems were the top 3 priorities to help citizens achieve a better quality of life.

While the results may reflect the state of mind two years ago, we need to think bigger. A powerful catalyst for PBTs is to reimagine how their cities can create better living experience for Malaysians. While the extensive list of smart indicators provided by ISO 37122 may appear intimidating, the journey toward building smart cities begins with a single step forward.

A look at smarter cities

Many around the world have already mastered of the art of building smart cities. So, as we celebrate the remarkable technological developments in major cities worldwide, we should also learn from them. Here are a few examples of cities that have embodied the critical success factors that contribute to a winning smart city:

  • Rio de Janeiro takes a holistic approach toward smart city development by developing a common IT infrastructure and integrated platform to enable a myriad of applications to gain a more comprehensive view of the city.
  • Copenhagen prioritises a “citizens-come-first” mindset and translates that customer-centric focus into long term infrastructures and initiatives, enabling citizens to become co-creators of their future city.
  • Hangzhou in China encourages public-private partnerships to harness the mutually-benefiting capabilities in designing and implementing smart city projects.
  • Seoul embraces an open culture, making city datasets and platforms freely available to citizens and businesses so that they can leverage accurate data to create innovative solutions.
  • Singapore, our neighbour, focuses heavily on government efficiency and ensures that all smart city initiatives align with the larger municipality or government programs.

TM One, the trusted partner

TM One is in a prime position to support the government’s vision for smart and sustainable cities around the nation. While fancy solutions may capture headlines, we understand the importance of a strong foundation.  

We provide an unparalleled level of robust and secured digital connectivity, coupled with a solid digital infrastructure. This includes Hyperscaled intelligent cloud solution and data centre infrastructure and services that protect data sovereignty.

As TM One continues to build solutions for the needs of tomorrow, we offer a wide array of smart city solutions to address the immediate PBT needs of today. Smart city applications, dashboards, smart street and traffic lights, smart parking systems and deep surveillance are great examples of our market-ready solutions to bring our customers closer to smart and sustainable cities. In fact, 25 PBTs around Malaysia have already deployed our smart surveillance systems to keep our citizens and utility infrastructure safe.

The icing on the cake is our integrated operation centre (IOC) which is a robust platform designed to efficiently consolidate various data types from networks and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices to intelligent applications. This integrated monitoring system will enable local governments to make quick decisions and changes in response to real-time conditions.

TM One is the one-stop hub to support Malaysia’s smart city needs

What are the next steps?

While our solutions are ready to help PBTs in their mission to roll out smart city projects, we encourage a more structured approach.

The first step is to design a smart city blueprint that narrows down the PBTs’ concerns. We no longer need country-level frameworks; we need immediate action plans. Start by finding local priorities and focus on the key problems that would best benefit the citizens when addressed.

Next, implement solutions that have quick wins and solve the core issue. Take the initiative to experiment with niche smart city solutions and validate their benefits.

Last but not least, be open to exploring different types of collaboration models. Often, private-public partnerships are good ways to leverage the unique strengths of two distinct organizations to create a powerful solution. TM One is committed to helping Malaysia move toward smart and sustainable cities for a better future.

Making Smart Manufacturing Real in Malaysia

August 04, 2022
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Highlights discussion during a Smart Manufacturing event, featuring TM One Rejab Sulaiman, on where Malaysia today towards Industry 4.0 maturation.

If we take an overview of what smart manufacturing means today – it is generally described as the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in manufacturing, which is targeted toward evolving the ideal factory of the future.

This is usually defined by industry commenters as an intelligent factory utilising robotics, AI, and internet of things (IoT) technologies. Actual implementation focuses on installing sensors to collect data of products and equipment at each phase of the production process.

Meanwhile, robots should work autonomously and collaboratively to achieve often complex actions. Each processing station and production can work independently or in collaboration and self-adjust procedures in synch with the intended process.

Summarised in a Deloitte report1, connectivity and convergence are the underlying themes in Industry 4.0 as applied to manufacturing systems. Ideally, ‘it is a leap forward from more traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system,’ the key features of such a manufacturing system can be summarised as: responsive, adaptive, and connected.

An April 2022 release by market research firm Vantage of Smart Manufacturing Market Growth and Trends2 report expects the smart manufacturing market to reach a valuation of US$237.4 billion by 2028, driven largely by demand in the retail sector, however.

Interestingly, Asia Pacific has been singled out by the report as the fastest regional to adopt smart manufacturing. Examples include India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, which has zeroed in on automating in-house manufacturing facilities.

Reality check

In Malaysia, the country’s digital economy focus, which includes developing smart communities among many other components, is anchored to the same transformational trajectory as the rest of the world

As smart manufacturing is another important component of the nation’s thrust, a recent industry forum set out to3 probe the current state of smart manufacturing in Malaysia.

Moderated by Karamjit Singh, CEO of Digital News Asia, the discussion featured industry speakers: Rejab Sulaiman, Vice President, Products & Innovation of TM One; Barry Leung, General Manager of SmartMore; and Prof Dr Yeong Che Fai, Chairman of DF Automation & Robotics.

Photo – Screenshot of the online event

As part of the introductory round, the panellists were asked for their opinion on where Malaysia was today as a nation on the road to Industry 4.0 maturation. On a rough scale of 0-5, the consensus was deemed to be average – 2.5. This could be related to 98% of businesses in the country being small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which could barely rate 1+, while those larger companies, already on the transformational road, were pushing 4+.

Both SmartMore’s Leung Prof Dr Yeong opined that resistance to adoption could be attributed to many factors: low minimum wage rates in the country preclude the need to adopt digital (such as robotics) on a large scale; no pressure on profit margins, and also low awareness of digitalisation, especially among smaller companies.

On the positive front however, all three speakers pointed to more digital projects and a steady increase in awareness of the benefits of digitalisation in the sector.

  • Deeply experienced with solutions across the entire range of areas such as cybersecurity, smart services, business analytics, data centre, cloud and the internet, TM One’s Rejab outlined the company’s proven track record to unlock the potential of smart services for businesses.
  • Serial entrepreneur and advocate for smart industrial automation solutions, Barry Leung said the Shenzhen-based AI unicorn business, SmartMore, set up in Singapore as part of its regional expansion, helped by a recent US$200 million investment round from Chinese venture capital companies. Slightly more than two years old, the company focuses on smart manufacturing solutions and has rapidly expanded with more than 100 smart manufacturing projects on board so far.
  • Also an associate professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Prof Dr Yeong said DF Automation & Robotics was founded in 2012 to develop automated guided vehicles, food delivery robots and so on.

Rejab also pointed out that due to the pandemic, manufacturing companies today said their top three (3) priorities are to build resilience for their business and operating models; to enhance operational excellence; and to automate routine human tasks.

Although digital adoption is still low; the sector is starting to actively explore these solutions.

Bringing new realities

Some of the insights from the panel were recently confirmed by reports from various analysts and commenters.

SmartMore’s Leung pointed out that the technologies underlying smart manufacturing were pretty mature.

Many commenters generally agree on the key trends arising from these technologies in manufacturing. For example, a Forbes commentary cited4 together StarUs Insights5, a platform scouting startups, has put pointed to some current contributors to Industry 4.0, a few or which are quickly noted here:

  1. IIoT, the industrial internet of things I the use of interconnected devices to collect data.
  2. 5G and edge computing, will enhance reliable, low latency connectivity; the use of private 5G networks on premises will eschew much of the need for cables and also enhance data security.
  3. Predictive maintenance, which in a manufacturing is the use of IIoT device data and artificial intelligence to monitor patterns in components and machinery and calculate which is part is likely to fail.
  4. Digital twin technology can help simulate the supply chain to see how machinery operates. According to Deloitte, 70% of manufacturers6 may be using this technology to carry out evaluations.
  5. Extended reality technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) is expected to support enhanced product design, humans on assembly lines, training and planning, and is part of a gradual move into the metaverse. One example of this an extension of which is scenario planning for both short and long term disaster responses.
  6. Automation, driven by AI, is linked to better accuracy, productivity and reduced costs. Fully automated factories, dark factories do not need humans to be on site.
  7. Robots and cobots are another aspect of automation. Cobots are those that work alongside or assist humans – such as exoskeletons to safely help manoeuvre heavy parts.
  8. 3D printing has become more efficient, scalable and cost-efficient. Also called additive printing (AM), some commenters see this as a game-changer, which could enable a shift from a centralised to a distributed model for production across different locations.
  9. Blockchain technology and distributed computing technologies such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will help manufacturers monitor supply chains.

These all underpin the importance of manufacturing as the core building engine of our society.

In his introductory remarks, Rejab stressed that, “Today’s TM One is not just about offering digital connectivity, it’s not just about fibre, it is also about wireless – both 4G and 5G: we are building the digital infrastructure foundation that we can offer all of our enterprise and government customers. These sectors range across healthcare, banking, oil and gas, education, and others.”

TM One has built a strong foundation to help industries revolutionise and reshape businesses and cities, he said, when outlining an array of technologies, expertise and relevant skills readily available to drive transformation in Malaysia’s manufacturing sector from TM One.

“Digital transformation (DX) is a process of moving to a technology-enabled platform to positively change a business model while providing new revenue streams and after-sales opportunities.”

With smart manufacturing, the end objective of any initiative is to bring in automation by digitalising very aspect of the touchpoints from digital supply chains, connected and highly informed customers: convergence or linking of the business imperatives with operational data.

The journey comprises connecting machines to systems, monitoring and tracking, analysing the data, applying intelligent devices towards semi-automation – which is all part of a process towards full automation of production and the digitalisation of the ecosystem: one which is aiming for 100% work efficiency.

Smart skills needed

Rejab pointed out that advanced manufacturing capabilities in Malaysia will find fresh impetus with the roll out of 5G’s speed, low latency and other advantages. “Initial 5G rollouts will start with KL, Cyberjaya, Penang and so on. In terms of smart manufacturing, is expected to experience immediate impact for larger manufacturers in the beginning, especially with the use of the massive number of sensors [as in massive machine-type communications or mMTC]; time critical responses, which needs 5G specs, [as in ultra-reliable low latency communications or uRLLC]; and high capacity services [as in enhanced mobile broadband or eMBB].”

As manufacturers in some sectors are already using IoT and 5G enhanced connectivity to build more agile production – such as with automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) – understanding what a smart factory is important, said Prof Dr Yeong.

UK based independent research and technology organisation, TWI Ltd (formerly the British Welding Research Association7), defines a smart factory as ‘a digitised manufacturing facility that uses connected devices, machinery and production systems to continuously collect and share data. This data is then used to inform decisions to improve processes as well as address any issues that may arise.’

Since the technologies used include AI, big data analytics cloud computing and IIoT, more technical skills are needed and today’s manufacturing workers need to be hired for their brains as well, traditionally – their hands.

These skills span coding to handling AI pored robots, which can all be learned by employees and students ready to develop these competences.

Initiatives from government are of course welcome to promote the skill sets needed for smart manufacturing, said Prof Dr Yeong. “From the university perspective, we can help prepare our students, encouraging them to work on projects in smart manufacturing; government encouraging projects – universities face the challenge of providing a foundation as the scope demanded by industry is too vast.”

Pushing forward

Around the world, commenters have8 noted increasing government support for smart computing, which includes investing in IoT and industrial 3D printing research and development for IoT.

Malaysia too is rolling out initiatives such as the country’s Industry4WRD policy9.

Furthermore, although low adoption has been linked to smaller concerns, Rejab in response to a question about using smart manufacturing solutions in kampung or rural based businesses (sometimes called cottage industries in some western parts ) pointed out that: “Smart manufacturing is not just about robotics; it is about putting together solutions that are appropriate to your factory. Businesses can install IoT sensors into your plant operations, and collect insights for dashboard reporting. There are many uses for these solutions because the core lies in the use of sensors throughout your chain and the use of data from it.”

The encroaching reality is that more and more companies are facing the problems of costs, and will realise it is time to adopt smart solutions, said Prof Dr Yeong, adding that adoption levels are also aligned to raising the level of awareness, and further government encouragement will help accelerate digital adoption.

Echoing two themes noted by industry watchers, the panel agreed that trust and confidence will be needed to build awareness and dispel much of the uncertainties arising from the pandemic era

Another is to refresh scenario planning to offset future disruptions in the industry, a process explored by TM One during one of its leadership events, LEAP 202010.

Coupled with selecting the right solutions, building deeper partnerships between manufacturers and customers are important parts of transformation, affirmed TM One’s Rejab, who later added: “The next few years will indeed the most important ones for Malaysia’s manufacturing, warehousing and associated industries to build for sustainable growth and generate value in the digital arena.”

This article first appeared in Disruptive News Asia11


1 The Smart Factory – Deloitte Report —
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/4051_The-smart-factory/DUP_The-smart-factory.pdf
2 Global Smart Manufacturing Market | Vantage Market Research — https://www.vantagemarketresearch.com/press-release/smart-manufacturing-market-149600
3 Top In Tech Series – EP23: Smart Manufacturing in Malaysia – Reality Check – YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhYWOgKD-BA
4 The 10 Biggest Future Trends In Manufacturing — https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/01/25/the-10-biggest-future-trends-in-manufacturing/?sh=4eb91ffd4d56
5 Top 10 Manufacturing Trends & Innovations for 2022 | StartUs Insights — https://www.startus-insights.com/innovators-guide/manufacturing-trends-innovation/
6 7 Amazing Examples of Digital Twin Technology In Practice | Bernard Marr — https://bernardmarr.com/7-amazing-examples-of-digital-twin-technology-in-practice/
7 What is a Smart Factory? (A Complete Guide) – TWI — https://www.twi-global.com/technical-knowledge/faqs/what-is-a-smart-factory
8 Top 10 Smart Manufacturing Trends for 2022 | ATS — https://www.advancedtech.com/blog/smart-manufacturing-trends/
9 Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment | Official Website of Malaysia Productivity Corporation — https://www.mpc.gov.my/industry4wrd/
10 Jumpstarting Malaysia’s digital economy with scenario planning — https://disruptive.asia/jumpstarting-malaysias-digital-economy-with-scenario-planning/
11 Making Smart Manufacturing Real in Malaysia – https://disruptive.asia/making-smart-manufacturing-real-in-malaysia/

Blueprints for Building Smart Cities of the Future – Md Farabi Yussoff

June 07, 2022
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Smart city implementation is fraught with challenges, which is why PLANMalaysia seeks to support each PBT in creating a definitive, yet flexible blueprint to help make tailored decisions fit for each city’s development.

Md Farabi Yusoff, Head of Smart City from PLANMalaysia delivered his presentation at TM One’s City Leap Summit 2002. This article summarizes the key takeaways from his address. 

“Smartness” is not a measure of how advanced or complex the technology being adopted is, but how well the solutions solve the society’s problems and address existential challenges”

– YB Datuk Seri Reezal Merican bin Naina Merican, Minister of Housing & Local Government

Smart City has been a hot topic of discussion for the past decade. With the advent of IR 4.0, the technology underpinning smart cities has matured significantly. Over the years, the Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBT)’s understanding of the potential benefits to be reaped through the implementation of smart cities has also evolved. The next big challenge is in making the implementation of smart cities successful. There are two key imperatives in making this possible, viz., (a) developing a holistic smart city plan and (b) a blueprint for turning fundamental concepts into action. 

Developing a holistic smart city

Smart cities cannot be developed in silos – it requires a network of connected solutions that are effectively integrated, with data feeding into each element to ensure all facets of city-dwelling are elevated to the same level of capability and efficiency. An effective smart city is both holistic in nature and all-encompassing. The network of connected solutions also needs to be functional, providing tangible solutions to actual issues faced by citizens.

Even at a conceptual level, holisticness and people-centricity need to be embedded into smart city development to guide decision-making and ensure the solutions chosen are people-oriented and realistic. For this to happen, smart cities require careful planning and development, with each decision accounting for infrastructure, city operations and digital capabilities to create the solutions capable of elevating all elements of city-dwelling.

PBTs should prioritise taking this holistic approach into the conceptual framework of smart cities:

  • Priority 1 – Users: To ensure functionality and usefulness, the city residents themselves, along with their actual habits, are what should drive the how-to implementation of digital services and applications. This is the core principle of a People-Centric Smart City.
  • Priority 2 – Services: Envision strategies and solutions to enhance a city’s information systems, digital applications, and electronic services linked to all-digital economy sectors and social services. Enhancing service capabilities through digital integration is the booster shot to improving a smart city’s quality of life and efficiency.
  • Priority 3 – Data: Effective data management acts as both the backbone and crystal ball of smart cities.  It enables the generation of meaningful insights used to improve services. Effective management of smart cities’ data also enhances capabilities to plan for the future based on trends displayed through the data (e.g. flood mitigation measures or planning roadworks based on traffic patterns). To reap both benefits, a powerful, integrated data platform and analytics system is required and must be capable of collecting, processing, verifying, organising, analysing, integrating and enriching the data obtained from information systems, city sources and public networks.
  • Priority 4 – Digital infrastructure: In creating services designed for citizens and generating meaningful data, the right infrastructure must be present to support the technology needed. This encompasses networks and telecoms systems, data storage and processing centres, data privacy centres, etc., to provide the required connectivity to bring smart cities online.

Turning fundamental concepts into action

While a holistic, all-encompassing conceptual framework underpins smart cities’ strategic development, implementing the said framework presents an entirely different challenge. Concrete action plans based on a flexible, adaptable blueprint is the surest way forward in making smart city initiatives a success.

In creating an adaptable blueprint, PBTs need to ensure that all the 4 fundamentals of smart city planning are covered. While the overall action plan can be carried out incrementally through stages, each stage needs rigorous review. Subsequent actions need to be adapted to fit needs of citizens and PBTs accordingly as new findings arise across the journey. The blueprint can broadly be classified into three distinct phases.

  • Stage 1: Early Analysis:  The step-by-step phases for the analysis phase include:
    • Review current agendas & policies
    • Conduct urban challenges assessment
    • Carry out our “smart initiatives” assessment
    • Create tailored benchmarks for smart city
    • Assess citizen readiness level
    • SWOT analysis
  • Stage 2: Preparing the action plan: Following the analysis phase, the action plan needs to be developed. The steps involved include:
    • Create specific smart city aspirations
    • Define quick vs long term wins in smart city action plan
    • Define roles and streamline organisation chart
    • Deployment of digital infrastructure
    • Pre-planning development of Integrated Operations Centre
    • Data integration
  • Stage 3: Roll out and monitor:
    • Initial execution of smart city
    • Establish pioneer projects
    • Project assessment and improvement
    • Adaptation to public
    • Comprehensive mass roll-out
    • Attain smart city accreditation

The role of PLANMalaysia in the Smart City agenda

As the Federal Department of town and country planning for Peninsular Malaysia, PLANMalaysia’s role in the smart city agenda is to guide and support local councils in realising their smart city aspirations. Our work encompasses the four areas which are detailed below.   

Creating Smart City blueprints: Effective smart city planning and implementation cannot be one-off decisions. Each element needs to feed into one another to create a network of systems and solutions. With that, PBTs need a blueprint that strikes a balance in being both definitive and flexible, and to assist decision-making when it comes to choosing solutions and deciding ways forward – this is where PLANMalaysia comes in, to guide PBTs on blueprint formation and ensure decisions made are holistic and adaptable to future needs.

Running Malaysia Urban Observatory (MUO): Data collection and interpretation are integral to smart cities. MUO is a data-sharing platform that enables public data sharing and supports decision-making. PLANMalaysia’s custody of MUO ensures that all local councils can benefit from the federal department’s collaboration and support, effectively interpreting public data in enhancing services tied to smart city systems. 

SmartCity Accreditations: Involved in the makings of the standards or benchmarks for smart cities and data integration. To ensure usability of data and effectiveness of smart city implementation, certain criteria needs to be met to ensure systems chosen are in fact beneficial, functional and can be used to generate the right insights to enhance public services.

Increasing Awareness: One of the vital challenges to smart city implementation is stakeholder management, and there are many. PLANMalaysia endeavours to manage vital stakeholders by running several campaigns and programs to align all relevant stakeholders, from investors to local authorities to local communities. This fuels understanding of the ultimate goal of transforming into a smart city and the benefits that stand to be gained by all stakeholders.

When addressing smart cities in the past, we may have been uncertain of what was needed. We may have not fully grasped the technology or were not aware of what we wanted out of it. Today, we are in a much more secure position – enriched by knowledge, alongside the maturation of the technology, we are more ready than ever to be elevated towards a smarter future. The road ahead may not be simple or straightforward, but we are equipped with guides, blueprints and action plans which are both symbols and roadmaps to success. They represent our common goals is our binding objective in uniting all stakeholders towards a smarter, healthier, more sustainable Malaysia.

Learn from Industry Expert: Smart Cities for All – Dr Mazlan Abbas

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Smart cities have been a hot conversation topic for almost a decade, its’ implementation faces challenges when it comes to managing several stakeholders. What are the key building blocks in overcoming these obstacles?

Smart cities made its debut as an idea over a decade ago. The growing pains of urbanisation required governments around the world to consider leveraging technology to help alleviate the big challenges facing the cities. The problems for dense cities are many, ranging from high energy consumption, traffic congestion, pollution and increase in crime. The technology is ready and available, yet majority of the smart city projects have met with limited success. As with all new things, there are risks involved. But moving forward takes a bit of courage, and a leap of faith. After all, this is what defines a pioneer; bungee jumping into uncharted territory, outside their comfort zone.

The biggest challenge by far is the complexity of the initiative and managing the collaboration between the multitude of stakeholders needed to make smart city initiatives a success.

There are three crucial building blocks to overcoming the main challenges of smart city implementation:

  1. Understanding technology and its potential impact
  2. Developing a visionary perspective of the ideal smart city
  3. Having the right governance and program management teams to execute this over time.  

Technology and its potential impact

Let’s start with technology which is what a smart city is all about. Technology plays a crucial role in the transformation of smart cities, with benefits that stand to be gained by all stakeholders. The role of technology can be dissected into seven key aspects:

  1. Manpower: Smart digital solutions can streamline efficiency and increase productivity with the same number of resources (eg. Smart waste management system, pothole reporting)
  2. Mobility: Autonomous public transport and edge computing traffic monitoring can create a safer commute experience and reduce traffic congestion.
  3. Machinery: Advanced data collection and self-diagnostics in smart equipment will only require predictive maintenance and experience fewer performance errors.
  4. Methodology: Enabling local council apps and citizen reporting of urban issues improves response time of city councils in tackling reports and service malfunctions.
  5. Market: Test bed for innovative technology will expand market reach globally and attract investors.
  6. Money: Smart service implementations (eg. Public wifi, charging stations) can create new business models and generate diverse revenue streams.
  7. Management: Faster data collection and data synthesis will allow for data driven decision-making and more transparent data.

Developing the vision

Smart city development cannot be done in an ad-hoc fashion. The various elements need to come together to form a uniform vision and serve a core purpose – to solve specific problems of the city’s residents and improve quality of life. The development of a smart city vision should embrace the following four principles:

1. A holistic approach

A smart city should aim to embrace technology across all aspects of the citizens lifestyle and tight integration of a range of services from transportation, health, education, etc built around citizen journeys.

 2. Citizen-centric drive

The citizens are the heart-beat of every city. A successful initiative involves building trust between the citizens and the governing body through citizen-centric decision and policy making as well as transparency of data and information. Providing citizens smart tools helps with the data collection effort. This helps mitigate the “black hole” problem, with information on any pressing issues reported by concerned citizens made readily available for authorities to address them at the earliest.

3. Synthesis of data

Through widespread data collection, smart cities can solve many problems quickly, made possible by insights from data. An iterative approach that enables constant problem solving is crucial for long-term success. Data insights can also help city managers and planners address the core issues that impact every citizen and minimize chances of recurrence. 

4. DNA of a smart city

Another concept that smart cities should internalise is the DNA of a smart city, namely, Devices, Networks, and Applications. A successful smart city harmonises the interaction between its devices used in daily operations, connected by a network that sustains it, and managed through the use of applications and software’s to ensure a seamless operation and function void of errors.

The execution

A successful smart city implementation cannot be achieved without the proper governance and management, support from stakeholders buying into the idea, and the feedback from the citizens living within. Vision and ideas are relatively simpler to define, the challenge is the execution.  The key success factors include:

  1. A disciplined project management office
  2. The right funding models
  3. Buy-in from all stakeholders
  4. Good governance.

While the task seems daunting, there are many global best practices we can follow. The technology has matured and the right funding models are coming into place. We need to act with a sense of urgency. As we embrace the new post-pandemic future, the time to act is now. Failing which we will have only compounded the many challenges for our already fast-growing cities.

Learn more on how Smart City contributes to our nation’s aspiration in becoming a Digital Malaysia.

Digital Transformation to Build Metropolitan, Regional and National Smart Cities – Setiaji

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With 3 key principles (People, Process, Technology) of its smart city development, the West Java Provincial Government has elevated a largely rural population to one of the region’s fastest smart city adopters.

“Kerana kemudahan tidak hanya untuk sebahagian kelompok, tetapi untuk semua”

“Because convenience is not for a few, but the masses”

Setiaji, Chief of Digital Transformation Office at Ministry of Health / Assistant of Minister for Health Technology, Indonesia

Half of the world’s population are city dwellers, and with the breakneck speed of technological advancement, a government that fuels digital technologies stands to endure significant long-term economic benefits. Cities that are slow to embrace the digital race risk falling further behind the pack.

With an average density of 1,400 population per square kilometer, West Java is home to 50 million people across 27 regencies and 620 districts. While it is the most populous province in Indonesia, its human development index is lower than Indonesia’s national average. Wide socioeconomical and digital gaps are spread within its 1,576 urban villages and 4,301 rural villages.

Pemerintah Jawa Barat or the West Java Provincial Government understands that to inch closer to the smart city pole position, its version of smart city needs to be inclusive of the rural areas. Faced with complex government bureaucracy, compounded with a lack of innovation in the government service, West Java Provincial Government initiated an in-house digital team — Jawa Barat Digital Service or Jabar Digital Service. Early in our journey, we saw that to build a smart city tailored to the West Java ecosystem, we needed to bring together best-in-class tech talent and institutional stability in one team. Jabar Digital Service, in essence, is a start-up under government purview with a massive scale to impact.

There are three anchor drivers that propelled West Java into becoming one of the region’s fastest smart city adopters: People. Process. Technology.

1. People – Fostering digital talent

For a city to become a leading smart city, the importance of talent is second to none. However, according to the World Bank, Indonesia will have a 9-million digital talent shortage by 2030 if initiatives are not taken to address this in the interim.   

To fill this potential gap, Jabar Digital Service launched its inaugural Candradimuka Jabar Coding Camp in 2021. This first batch of full-fledged coding camps received 11,730 applicants, with 844 being successful in their applications. Additionally, and more impressively, 18.9% of the 844 successful applicants are among the underprivileged, disabled or high school leavers. All graduates of the coding camp are now either absorbed in Jabar Digital Service,  assimilated into the Indonesian technology industry, or opted to become freelancers taking advantage of the budding gig economy. As a result, we now have more than 300 new additions to the digital workforce consisting of mainly young, exuberant talents mentored by senior government officials and private sector experts.

2. Process – Facilitating new business models, streamlining regulations and supporting interactive innovation

An advocate of the ‘Right First, Fast Later’ mantra, Jabar Digital service believes a deep and resilient process is the cornerstone of any smart city. There was a perception that regulations were a barrier to innovation. Hence, the first point to address was to fine-tune existing regulatory policies to foster regulator engagement in the innovation process.

At a broader level, to invigorate a culture of innovation at various levels and among diverse stakeholders, we took a 360° view and synergised the business process with governance and infrastructure to support this interactive innovation. All this, of course, needed to align with our budget and stretch every Rupiah.

3. Technology – A customer-centric product

Smart cities may have become one of the main agendas for governments worldwide, but there is still a substantially unmet need for the largely overlooked and underserved population.

As West Java comprises of primarily rural locations and with our citizens only being able to afford basic technical equipment, our smart city technology of choice needs to be brought down to the lowest common denominator to make it inclusive for everyone and reduce the digital divide.

At Jabar Digital Service, we believe the launching of a digital blueprint is not enough. The execution must be accessible for all stakeholders to be able to develop at a furious pace.

Here are some examples of our flagship products that have impacted the West Java society significantly.

The Jabar Command Centre is a data visualisation and monitoring centre which centralizes and integrates data from all operations and public services available to citizens of West Java.

Public Gathering Monitoring, Smart CCTV surveillance that feeds the command centre with information of an estimated number of mass gatherings, average density and peak hours. The collection, monitoring and analysis of information allows the government to monitor public protocols and coordinate for security measures whenever necessary.

Ekosistem Data Jabar (EDJ), EDJ is a data ecosystem which integrates data from four main sources (OpenData, SatuData, Satu Peta & Core Data). Information gathered from this integrated ecosystem generates ‘smart’ insights which, in turn, supports data-driven decision making. The use of public and open data has also heightened transparent leadership while encouraging public participation in the urban development of West Java.  

Sapawarga, the West Java government’s Superapp was launched in 2019 with 3 main purposes:

  1. Effective, widespread and efficient delivery of government information to citizens
  2. Encouraging citizen interaction and feedback to government bodies
  3. Enabling citizens to gain easier access to government programs and public services

Pikobar, A day after West Java declared a state of emergency due to the COVID19 pandemic, JDS launched the Pikobar website. The Pikobar app was released 16 days later. Since the launches, Pikobar has been releasing real-time data and enabling integrated COVID-19 related services via both app and website. The services include 32 features such as teleconsultation / telemedicine, multivitamin prescription, delivery and administration of oxygen and more.

Digital Villages Theme

The overall objective of the Digital Villages Theme is to overcome the digital divide in rural areas, by covering 3 major pillars:

  1. Providing basic digital infrastructure for rural residents to access the internet
  2. Increasing digital literacy and ensuring residents are capable of using the internet for communication and information access
  • Increasing internet optimization with Internet-of-Things (IoT) and E-commerce to allow residents to independently and sustainably empower their own productivity.

There is one key trait driving the success of West Java’s smart city transformation: unity. From governments and local officials having a clear and aligned vision of a smart West Java, to an inclusive action plan that aims to elevate the lifestyles of all members of West Java’s society; the province is an undisputable example of the value of unity and cooperation of all stakeholders in making smart city transformation a success.

Together, Let’s Create Success Stories

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