SUBSCRIBE NOW

Subscribe to Get the
Latest News And Updates. No Spam. We Promise.

2021: Smoothing the Transition to Smart Manufacturing in Malaysia

March 10, 2021
197

Of your peers have already read this article.

4:20

Minutes you'll spend on this story!

Government initiatives to encourage smart manufacturing include the international trade and industry ministry’s (MITI’s) Industry4wrd policy. This framework includes three core elements and eight core thrusts designed to create a pathway for enhanced productivity, job creation, and growing a high-skilled talent pool in the manufacturing sector.

Frontier technologies such as AI, machine learning together with more responsive, pervasive cloud platforms, which have triggered mounting disruption of multiple industries and much of our daily life, will continue to accelerate in 2021.

With an eye on the manufacturing sector, a recent online industry debate — the Smart Manufacturing Circuit (SMC) held mid-December 2020 — conducted a reality check of technology-induced benefits and values.

Moderated by Maznan Deraman, head of Innovation Solutions at TM One, the enterprise solutions arm of Telekom Malaysia, the leadership panel comprised Eng Chew Hian, Business Development director of Huawei Cloud, and Sudev Bangah, managing director of IDC ASEAN.

Given the rapidly shifting global economic ecosystem, manufacturers are earnestly looking for the right matrix of technologies, people and process changes that will enhance competitiveness and get ahead of the pack, agreed the speakers.

To extrapolate best practices from current industry case studies, the panel distilled several short to long term strategic priorities. The discussion included a deep dive into the challenges faced by the manufacturing business, which largely reflect the overall industry scenario, i.e. keeping abreast of the competition in a fragile and fast-changing environment.

According to IDC’s Asia Pacific Insights Annual Survey 2019, 78% of the region’s manufacturing businesses saw declining sales, while 74% reported demand variability, and 37% pointed to increased competition, and lack of innovation (27.8%), as well as rising internal costs (20.4%).

In addition, 24% of manufacturing costs were attributed to downtime, 90% of maintenance work was categorised as ‘crisis work’ to fix breakdowns, and the amount by which total downtime cost was usually underestimated by 300%

Bracing up for the Next Normal

Addressing these business challenges demands transformative strategies to deliver results, declared all three panellists. These include improved supply chain performance, enhanced operational excellence and operational risks, stronger focus on product innovation and tapping new markets and customer segmentations.

However, the road that must be travelled has to be built on digital frameworks, the panel continued. On 1st January 2021, Malaysia’s government said its 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) will increase focus on new economic drivers such as the digital economy in tandem with the green economy. In line with this, a national digital policy is expected in Q1 of 2021.

Sudev Bangah cited IDC’s studies of organisational recovery, which highlighted an increased prioritisation of business resiliency. “Organisations need to look forward, and it is important for strategic priorities. Moving towards targeted investments — AI, IoT, robotics, cloud, machine learning — are typical areas for investment.”

IDC’s APAC studies confirmed that when building a digital transformation use case, clarifying strategic priorities will better build resiliency, and enhance yield from digital implementations, Sudev explained.

Sudev Bangah, MD of IDC Asean

Speaking of four value chains of manufacturing, he said: “Across the board, manufacturers are looking towards technology adoption to drive strategic priorities: engineering oriented; technology oriented; asset oriented and brand oriented.”

A major component of digitalisation is cloud computing, Huawei’s Eng pointed out. Earlier in 2020, TM One announced an agreement with Huawei as another step in its aim to aggregate partners and solutions to become the country’s first locally owned end-to-end comprehensive cloud AI infrastructure provider.

He outlined several cross-industry use cases which included Alpha Edge implementations such as one that uses drone and AI image processing applications to perform aircraft surface inspections “(This solution’s) emphasis on security, trust, speed and robust scalability,

TM One’s Maznan said, “Some of the benefits that cloud delivers to companies include bringing products to market faster; enhancing performance and productivity more efficiently; heightening competitiveness; simplifying and speeding up modernisation plans; as well as more effective collaboration with ecosystem partners.”

“Using digital solutions to achieve enhanced, connected production, real-time manufacturing and predictive analytics is part of the process of the transformation of the ecosystem, which includes people and existing processes.”

As an example, Maznan detailed the company’s Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) — a tool for manufacturers to tackle efficiency and productivity gaps without human intervention. “OEE helps to reduce common causes of equipment failure, maximise workforce effectiveness, and gives the capacity to visualise overall performance more easily.”

Transition to Industry 4.0

Tackling the bigger picture, the panel agreed that, to varying degrees, pandemic-related lockdowns procedures have indeed accelerated digital disruption. “People and businesses have had little choice: to take control of their transformation or bow out of the arena.”

Government initiatives to encourage smart manufacturing include the international trade and industry ministry’s (MITI’s) Industry4wrd policy. This framework includes three core elements and eight core thrusts designed to create a pathway for enhanced productivity, job creation, and growing a high-skilled talent pool in the manufacturing sector.

Atillea Razali from SME Bank Malaysia presented another example, in a separate session, on technology grants such as SME Technology Transformation Fund (STTF), which offers financing up to RM3 million to help in various transformation projects.

Sourcing intelligence

In the concluding sequence, the panel emphasised that, “Understanding and optimising operations is interlinked with the use of data and analytics.”

Bangah commented: “The acceleration of digital transformation is causing a rethink among manufacturers. This may call for a tweak to the 2021 playbook for many manufacturers: as an example, digitalising your supply chain will be one of the most critical areas.”

Bangah concluded by citing one of IDC’s key takeaways for 2021: “Technology is one complementing element, to enable your business to reach a new level on your journey. It is critical to find a partner on this journey who can offer all the support to enable a smoother journey.”

Maznan’s concluding summary included TM One Alpha Edge offerings to manufacturers to smooth the transition to smart manufacturing In tandem with the uphill recovery this year. “This is coupled with an ongoing partnership, as well as industry-specific solutions that offer a more holistic collaborative path to manage the transformation effectively.”

This article was first published on Disruptive.Asia (https://disruptive.asia/2021-smoothing-transition-smart-manufacturing-malaysia/)

Forging a New Future for Malaysia’s Manufacturers

Making Smart Manufacturing Real in Malaysia

August 04, 2022
173

Of your peers have already read this article.

9:08

Minutes time you’ll spend for this story!

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/

Building Smart and Sustainable Cities – Rejab Sulaiman

June 07, 2022
155

Of your peers have already read this article.

4:08

Minutes time you’ll spend for this story!

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

140

Of your peers have already read this article.

5:20

Minutes time you’ll spend for this story!

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

128

Of your peers have already read this article.

3:33

Minutes time you’ll spend for this story!

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.

Together, Let’s Create Success Stories

Help us know you better.

Which industry are you from?

One more quick question.

What solution are you looking for?

Our Experts Will Connect With You Soon.

Don't worry, we hate spam too.

If you agree to continue browsing, you accept the use of cookies on this site and have the option to disable them if you wish.

Accept & Continue