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Pushing Malaysia’s Smart City Development in 2022

March 12, 2022
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TM One sees the smart city concept pivot from the ‘nice to have to the ‘must implement today’ for Malaysia.

Given the fragility of global conditions and increasing emphasis on using digital innovation to build a safer, and more sustainable future for the betterment of people, we are seeing greater focus on actualising smart communities around the world.

Malaysia’s focus on smart cities and smart communities is also gaining momentum and reflects the wider trend. The global smart cities market size estimated to grow from US$457 billion last year to US$873.7 billion by 2026, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8%, according to a Markets and Markets1 report,

Taking a few steps back, the unveiling in 1996 of Malaysia’s digital economy vision, started with Cyberjaya, which was seeded as the country’s smart city, within a national vision to become a digital economy hub starting with the MSC Supercorridor (MSC Malaysia) platform2.

As a smart city zone, Cyberjaya3, was tasked to become a test bed to nurture emerging technologies and to become a preferred tech investment location, according to Najib Ibrahim, managing director, Cyberview Sdn Bhd in an interview with Disruptive Asia last year4.

Jumping ahead a few years to last year, we saw two launches to spur Malaysia’s smart city aspirations: the Smart City Handbook: Malaysia5 on 22 June 2021 by Malaysia’s former housing and local government (KPKT) minister YB Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin and the UK’s high commissioner, H.E Charles Hay; closely followed by the soft launch on 29 June 2021 by technological partnership think tank MIGHT6 (Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology) of its Smart City Outlook 2021/22 (MSCO) report7.

Continued major smart city developments include: the Smart Selangor8 initiative, aiming to make it the most liveable state within the region by 2025; Smart City Iskandar Malaysia9, and various digital programmes under DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) under its Kuala Lumpur Smart City Blueprint 2021-202510.

In the same week of MIGHT’s report, the government announce the appointment of Swedish ICT company Ericsson as 5G development partner to build an end-to-end rollout of a SWN (single wholesale network) in Malaysia at a total cost of RM11 billion ($2.65 billion), according to a statement by Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) – which is the government entity overseeing the rollout of MyDigital11.

Interestingly, Malaysia’s announcement of its national 4IR policy, which was also in the first week of July, posited a smart city framework. As envisaged by Malaysia’s Smart City Framework under the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025, of which MyDigital is a component12, the digitalisation of society and the economy is seen as vital to accelerate Malaysia’s recovery and to enhance the quality and safety life.

However, at the time of writing, the regulator Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (MCMC) and the Finance Ministry tabled a memorandum slated for 11 March 2022 to the Malaysian Cabinet for a decision on the possibility of opting for a dual wholesale network (DWP).

Regardless of the rollout approach, the 5th generation wireless technology is viewed by industry and governments as positing the potential to spur smart city growth and bring more communities into the digital arena.

Recently, the country’s housing and local government minister Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican said:, “At the top of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s agenda is to promote the philosophy of ‘Liveable Malaysia’ in line with the 12th Malaysia Plan. ‘Liveable Malaysia’ emphasises on ensuring that the rakyat’s [the people’s] wellbeing is safeguarded and defended within the purview of our ministry. Among the key focus of ‘Liveable Malaysia’ is mainstreaming digitalization in the service delivery of local authorities as well as adopting advanced technology in the development of cities within the Malaysia Smart City Framework.”

Panel: Keys to a Smart Digital Economy

His comment came in late February of this year during the United Kingdom’ virtual Smart Cities Mission to Malaysia, which again served as the latest spur to review the smart cities and smart communities aspects of Malaysia’s digital transformation agenda.

Held 22-24 February, the three day mission’s objectives were two-fold: to increase collaborations to encourage smart city development in local government and housing and related fields; and to introduce offerings from about 40 UK smart city solutions providers.

Speakers at the panel discussion on capitalising technology to build a sustainable and smart digital economy13 included Asia Pacific Digital Trade Network regional director Christopher Bush (acting as the moderator, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) vice president Ir Dr Karl Ng, Tech London and Global Tech Advocates founder Russ Shaw CBE, and TM One executive vice president Shazurawati Binti Abd Karim.

Photo – Forum Panel Speakers

In her opening, Shazurawati pointed to AI as constituting a key driver today among emerging technologies, enabling new levels of efficiencies for businesses and organisations of any size as well as its use in daily lives through mobile apps for shopping, transport, banking, customer service through chat bots, cyber security detection and mitigation, and so on.

Citing a recent IDC report – IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: Artificial Intelligence in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) 14 – that revealed 42% of Asia Pacific enterprises were deploying AI albeit in isolated projects, she affirmed that: “AI offers a core capability in digital transformation and maturity levels in the region; and another research study assessing Asean suggests that AI may add one trillion dollars to the region’s GDP by 2030 if we do this right.”

Russ Shaw concurred with her comments the importance of AI and added 5G, blockchain among others. “We need high speed connectivity to enable emerging technologies across enterprise and public sectors including smart cities.”

Indeed, founder chair of Outreach UN ITU Prize ACM for good Global Summit Stephen Ibaraki , writing from his pro bono work15 involving more than 100,000 CEOs, investors, experts and scientists, concludes that: “By 2030 AI will measurably influence and impact more than 8.5 billion people, across all sectors, and human & earth diverse ecosystems on an unprecedented scale.”

Building Happy Cities

“Technological impact on Malaysia with technologies through smart city adoption is rightly balanced with sustainable – green technology – considerations. Malaysia is blessed with a lot of ongoing development from an infrastructure perspective,” commented Shazurawati, citing the use of technologies such as IoT sensors to detect, predict and mitigate local climate challenges such as haze, regular flooding, soil erosion, and traffic management.

Speaking to other societal aspects, she said: “Safety and convenience of the community is a high priority: For example, using AI and smart service solutions, we believe that integrated smart city surveillance such as using CCTV is only really useful with the use of analytics and AI through an integrated operations centre. Beyond public safety, we can use it as tool for cohesive disaster management, which will be enhanced with the coming of 5G. The volume and required speed of 5G will be part of the perfect recipe for smart city developments.”

Shazurawati added that Malaysia’s adoption would need to embrace solutions beyond CCTV such as drones to cover larger surveillance areas such as ports, platforms and refineries.

“During the pandemic, we learned to use drones to deliver medical supplies to remote areas. With regards to 5G, she said that Malaysia’s aim is to roll out 5G coverage to 80% of the population by 2024 in order to deliver impactful opportunities and benefits16 through services for smart city development.”

Malaysia’s smart digital economy testbed cases demonstrating the potential of 5G hark back to 2019/2020 when MCMC – together with various telecoms stakeholders such as Telekom Malaysia (TM) 17, Celcom Axiata, Digi Telecommunications, Edotco Malaysia, Maxis Broadband, U Mobile, Petroliam Nasional, and YTL Communications – held 5G Malaysia Demonstration Projects (5GDP) in six states involving an initial investment of RM143 million.

At the time, Malaysia envisioned 100 use cases embracing nine verticals – agriculture, education, entertainment/media, digital healthcare, manufacturing and processing, oil and gas, smart city, smart transportation and tourism. Some of these use case demonstrated some of the benefits that digital technologies with enhanced communications such as 5G would bring such as enhanced security, safety and economic opportunities to communities on the island of Langkawi, and its potential as a smart island18.

Shazurawati said, “[Since then] TM One has worked with several council municipalities with surveillance, smart traffic, smart lighting, smart building projects are part of the matrix to enhance the quality of life, to use technology to raise happiness levels of a city – to develop happy cities.”

This approach bodes well with sentiments from and other industry leaders. Closing the digital divide and benefitting humankind were two of the themes in a recent interview19 with UN agency ITU (Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau) 20 director Chaesub Lee. “There is a lot of talk about AI in emerging technical areas, but we want to find a practical approach,” Lee said. “We bring someone having problems they need to solve, and we bring someone who wishes to provide the solution, and then we have them meet to facilitate how to utilize AI and ML to help humankind.”

Similarly, Jouko Ahvenainen, pioneer in digital finance and data analytics, opined21 that smart city models often overlook one key component – the people in them that though ‘one main objective of smart cities is to collect data to improve and develop services’, the value of such developments to people and their privacy appears to have a lower priority’.

TM One’s stance is to offer building blocks to the private and public sectors – such as smart premises, smart agriculture, smart manufacturing, and so on22 – to develop smart happy cities, said Shazurawati.

Digital Foundation & Partnerships

MDEC’s Dr Karl echoed these trends by detailing some of the projects MDEC has been encouraging. The availability of data, balanced with security & privacy concerns, remains one of the challenges. The need for policy and government direction coupled with skills and right awareness are other factors to use technology to enhance productivity and generate wealth.

Co-creation, partnerships are vital to move forward, Shazurawati said. She added that global spending on smart city solutions could reach USD 2.5 trillion dollars by 2026.

“To better unleash innovation, connectivity is fundamental and we cannot live without this. To deliver services, we need to build these on a strong digital foundation – formed by cloud, data centres, cybersecurity and smart services,” she said.

Shazurawati agreed with Dr Karl that data and the correct exchange of data is a powerful enabler of executing more citizen services, and applications.

“We need to be open to explore new business models with a human centred, integrated approach geared towards raising happiness levels. A strong, sustainable digital foundation with collaboration and new ways of working is the way forward,” she said.

“Citizens deserve a one stop service with single-sign through a digital ID on for services as part of an effective smart city model, Shazurawati added. “Public and private partnership platforms will certainly accelerate development.”

Russ Shaw echoed these statements and added that investment from both public and private capital is a critical element for smart economy and smart city development. “The importance of growth capital from both sectors is needed to enable the innovation and implementations discussed in the panel. How to encourage businesses of all sizes and Cale to measure their environmental impact. This is the importance of data as Shazurawati and Dr Karl have been speaking eloquently about.”

Stepping Forward

Smart cities operate through the collection of data to improve and develop services. Establishing smart cities relies on smart data – or in other words – cohesive connections between advanced technologies, a flow of data combined with relevant culture change, and administration processes will help to heighten Malaysia’s sustainable smart city development: a trajectory fit to meet the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution era.

Speaking back in 2017, Hazmi Yusof, managing director, Malaysia and senior vice president at Frost & Sullivan said: “Communication service providers and network service partners play a key role in forming the technological backbone to roll-out smart cities. Singtel in Singapore and Telstra in Australia have laid out US$500 million and US$100 million, respectively, to enable smart city technology platforms and infrastructure. Telekom Malaysia in Malaysia plans to build a data centre and provide cloud computing and smart services in a technology park,” said Hazmi back in 2017.

He also said, “Connectivity will be a key enabler while designing an omni-channel experience platform across all touch points including online and mobile. Data from sensors will enable new technologies to integrate softer aspects, such as customer perception and citizen awareness.”

In the pre-pandemic era, Frost & Sullivan pointed to 10 cities in Asia Pacific that were posited to become smart cities by 202523.

Technology and governance will among key enablers for participants in the smart city ecosystem in Asia-Pacific, he said. “Several government agendas in this region are driving the building of smarter cities in Singapore, Japan, China, and South Korea. Investments are expected to grow from US$55.6 billion in 2013 to US$260 billion in 2020,” he said. “Eight emerging cities also have standalone smart city projects, which when scaled-up, can achieve the smart city status by 2030 and beyond.”

The analyst firm’s definition is that: ‘Smart cities are cities built on “smart” and “intelligent” solutions and technology that focuses on managing and improving its citizen lives in a responsible and sustainable manner.’

Together with critical importance of balancing the pace of urbanisation with the need to manage planetary sustainability, a smart journey will separate the winners from the laggards.”

As part of its smart cities and inclusive growth programme, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2020, released a paper, which24, acknowledges the timeliness of utilising the benefits of smart cities as “particularly critical to help cities and countries manage and rebound from this unprecedented global crisis.”

Moving forward, Najib, in his recent Disruptive Asia interview25, asserted that, “Cyberview is one key thread in Malaysia’s smart city story”, adding that the ‘new masterplan has been designed to provide dynamic synergies between companies from various industries and entire value chains, addressing one of the gaps faced by businesses today: working in silos. Its four distinctive zones will optimise productivity and amplify growth with the three tech clusters to enhance liveability, ultimately transforming Cyberjaya into the centre for global tech powerhouses and promising startups.’

During 2021, Covid-19 related challenges were added prompts to Malaysia’s public authorities to embark on a track to refresh smart city initiatives using digital smart services to upscale service levels, citizen well-being, and especially important at this time – to forge the space for sustainable economic growth and recovery.

TM One, in accord with other industry players, sees the smart city concept pivot from the ‘nice to have’ to the ‘must implement today’ for Malaysia.

Furthermore, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) paper in 2020, released as part of the organisation’s programme on smart cities and inclusive growth26, reinforces the timeliness of smart city development as “particularly critical to help cities and countries manage and rebound from this unprecedented global crisis.”

A consistent sentiment in most industry and public conversations is that the meaningful development of smart communities and cities to deliver real benefits to people and societies depends on highly collaborative public-private partnerships, supplemented by academia.

The year 2021’s Covid-19 related challenges also helped to encourage Malaysia’s public authorities to refresh and accelerate smart city initiatives to maintain as well as upscale service levels, citizen well-being, and especially important at this time – to forge the space for sustainable economic growth and recovery.


The original version of this article was first published on Disruptive Asia. (https://disruptive.asia/pushing-malaysias-smart-city-development-2022/)

1. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/smart-cities-market-542.html
2. https://mdec.my/what-we-offer/msc-malaysia/
3. https://www.cyberjayamalaysia.com.my/
4. https://disruptive.asia/actualising-smart-communities-in-malaysia-ceo-interview/
5. https://www.kpkt.gov.my/kpkt/resources/user_1/GALERI/PDF_PENERBITAN/FRAMEWORK/Malaysia_Smart_City_Handbook_21062021_Final.pdf
6. https://www.might.org.my/
6. https://www.might.org.my/
7. https://disruptive.asia/malaysia-refreshes-smart-city-aspirations-new-might-report/
8. https://www.smartselangor.com.my/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SSAP-OFFICIAL-26Aug20.pdf
9. http://iskandarmalaysia.com.my/SCIM/
10. https://www.dbkl.gov.my/kuala-lumpur-smart-city-blue-print-2021-2025-2/
11. https://disruptive.asia/mydigital-malaysias-bid-to-revitalise-digital-economy/
12. https://disruptive.asia/mydigital-malaysias-bid-to-revitalise-digital-economy/
13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhqrGvsxNYc
14. https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=AP47369521
15. https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenibaraki/2022/02/27/unesco-international-research-center-spotlights-in-2022-global-top-10-outstanding-ai-solutions/
16. https://disruptive.asia/how-digital-malaysia-will-tap-the-disruptive-power-of-5g/
17. https://disruptive.asia/how-digital-malaysia-will-tap-the-disruptive-power-of-5g/
18. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252477061/Will-5G-turn-Langkawi-into-the-worlds-first-smart-island
19. https:/disruptive.asia/closing-digital-divide-major-mission-for-itu/
20. https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/info/tsb/Pages/default.aspx
21. https://disruptive.asia/smart-city-models-overlook-people-in-them/
22. https://disruptive.asia/2021-smoothing-transition-smart-manufacturing-malaysia/
23. https://www.frost.com/news/press-releases/10-cities-asia-pacific-poised-be-smart-cities-2025/
24. https://www.oecd.org/cfe/cities/OECD_Policy_Paper_Smart_Cities_and_Inclusive_Growth.pdf
25. https://disruptive.asia/actualising-smart-communities-in-malaysia-ceo-interview/
26. https://www.oecd.org/cfe/cities/OECD_Policy_Paper_Smart_Cities_and_Inclusive_Growth.pdf

Here’s How Malaysia is Stepping Up Our ESG Efforts

June 09, 2022
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Read more about how Malaysian banks are incorporating environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors into their governance, business strategy, operations, and risk management to move toward more sustainable financing and operating practises.

In Malaysia, banks are stepping up in their journey into more sustainable financing and operating practices, making efforts to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into their governance, business strategy, operations and risks management.

Consulting firm PwC conducted a survey last year to gauge the Malaysian banking sector’s readiness for ESG. Results from the study were released recently and showed that financial institutions in the country have woken up to the ESG imperative, with most sharing concerns about climate change, environmental and social risks.

Of the 14 Malaysian banks polled, 90% indicated having assigned a department to operationalize ESG, showcasing that Malaysian banks are making progress in establishing governance and oversight over ESG risks.

In addition, 21% of respondents said they have already embedded three ESG-related frameworks within their organization, namely the Climate Change and Principle-based Taxonomy (CCPT), the Value-based Intermediation Financing and Investment Impact Assessment Framework (VBIAF), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Adoption of ESG frameworks in Malaysian banks, Source: PwC’s 2021 survey on ESG readiness in the Malaysian banking sector.

Results from the 2021 PwC survey echo those of a study conducted the same year by Malaysia’s Joint Committee on Climate Change (JC3). Formed in 2019, JC3 is a committee co-chaired by representatives from the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) that focuses on building climate resilience within the Malaysia financial sector.

The study, released in April 2022, shares findings from a survey of 24 respondents in the banking, finance and insurance sectors, and found strong commitments from Malaysian financial institutions on sustainability and climate issues.

92% of respondents indicated having a sustainability strategy in place, and 73% of banking respondents said they have made some commitments to ban or phase out financing of coal-related activities.

In the banking sector, Hong Leong Bank has been praised for being among the industry’s leaders in ESG standards, recognized by a 2021 CGS-CIMB Research paper for its efforts in promoting ESG practices across its operations, working with its borrowers to improve standards, incorporating ESG evaluation in its loan approval process, and practicing disclosure of ESG-related information.

Within the telecommunications sector, CGS-CIMB Securities has ranked Telekom Malaysia (TM) highly from an ESG perspective, highlighting the telco’s ability to consistently meet the regulator’s quality of service (QoS), key performance indicators (KPIs), relatively lower regulatory risks compared to other mobile telco players, and continuous effort to implement a robust cybersecurity framework.

TM announced earlier this year that it had implemented the use of renewable energy to power its data centres, becoming the first company in the country to do so. Two of its data centres, namely the Klang Valley Core Data Centre (KVDC) in Cyberjaya and Iskandar Puteri Core Data Centre (IPDC) in Johor Bahru have secured the Green Electricity Tariff (GET) from Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), as well as Green Building Index (GBI) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications.

Further showcasing its commitment to sustainability, TM, together with Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa (YSS) and 18 partners comprising local councils, institutions and universities, recently collaborated to plant 5,017 Gutta Percha trees (instrumental in the early beginnings of the global submarine telegraph network) at 23 locations all over Malaysia.

Members of the public will also have the opportunity to contribute as TM launched its Adopt-A-Tree campaign where customers can adopt a Gutta Percha tree which will be planted within the 23 unifi Green Zones.

In the long term, TM aims to cut down carbon emissions by 30% in 2024, 45% by 2030 and achieve Net-Zero emission by 2050.

The company is also aiming to provide high-access Internet to at least 70% of premises nationwide and has committed to having a minimum of 30% representation of women on its board of directors and in management.

The 12th Malaysia Plan

Progress observed among Malaysian firms in integrating ESG considerations comes on the back of an ongoing push by the government to advance sustainability, as well as strengthen security, wellbeing, and inclusivity.

The five-year 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) development plan, introduced by the government back in September 2021, aims to achieve economic growth and transform Malaysia into “a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable country.”

Goals include achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, increasing the total installed capacity of renewable energy, enhancing green financing and incentives, and promoting the circular economy.

Malaysia’s five-year sustainability plans under the 12th Malaysia Plan, Source: Trending- Sustainable responsible investment in Malaysia and the region, EY, 2022

In the financial sector, the industry is guided by the respective blueprints and masterplans released by the regulators to address sustainability and climate issues.

In September 2021, the SC launched the Capital Market Masterplan 3 (CMP3), which serves as a strategic framework for the capital market to continue to support the economy and transition towards greater inclusivity and sustainability.

And earlier this year, BNM released the Financial Sector Blueprint 2022-2026, outlining the central bank’s development priorities for the financial sector over the next five years, anchored on efforts to foster market dynamism, support sustainable development objectives, and facilitate an orderly transition to greener, more climate-resilient economy and financial sector.

Rising demand for sustainable investments

The rise in importance of ESG standards comes as consumers are growing more concerned about the environment and demand institutions to behave in ways that align with what they believe is socially responsible.

PwC, which polled 5,005 consumers, 2,510 employees, and 1,257 business leaders in the US, Brazil, the UK, Germany and India last year, found that 83% of consumers believe companies should be actively involved in creating ESG best practices. More significantly, 76% of consumers said they would discontinue relationships with organizations that treated employees, communities, or the environment poorly.

In Southeast Asia, this trend is evidenced by the surge in sustainable investing. Between 2016 and 2020, the issuance of sustainable bonds and sukuk, or bond-like instruments used in Islamic finance, grew exponentially at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 198% in ASEAN, reaching US$22.1 billion in 2020, a 2022 report by EY shows. Total ASEAN sustainable bonds and sukuk issued is projected to amount to US$29.8 billion in 2021.

Growth trend of ASEAN6 sustainable bonds and sukuk, 2016-2021, Source: Trending: Sustainable responsible investment in Malaysia and the region, EY, 2022

This article was first published by FinTech News Malaysia

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.

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

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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.

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