Asia is leading the charge
Asia’s emerging cities have been reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to building infrastructure. To counter this, ‘Smart Cities’ has been a buzzword for a few years now, with India looking to build 100 such cities in the near…

Asia’s emerging cities have been reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to building infrastructure. To counter this, ‘Smart Cities’ has been a buzzword for a few years now, with India looking to build 100 such cities in the near future.

Studies have shown that Asia is expected to take the lead in the building of Smart Cities over the next century. With a predicted 62 megacities (cities with more than 10 million people) by 2025, up from the current 32, Asia has no choice but to figure out the best way to use technology to help their citizens live better lives.

Singapore is probably the most famous example of a Smart City, with the government pushing massive technology adoption.

Traffic congestion is one of the worst side effects of any growing city. With limited funds and space, managing the movement of humans has become a crucial issue which has knock-on effects on human health, pollution, and the handling of natural disasters.

One of the main ways that cities are looking to clear the roads is to crunch more data. CCTVs, traffic signals, flow of traffic, and other data sources all combined to give city councils a better idea of where the main pain points are for their citizens. Traffic speed and volume are analysed, giving a real-time picture of what traffic looks like at any point of the day in the city.

One of the big benefits is that a fix like this does not need a huge amount of extra investment; it makes do with existing infrastructure, streamlining the data, and taking relevant insights from it.

IBM is currently working on making this more accessible, and Singapore’s Smart Mobility 2030 is probably the best example of a city putting things in place to build a smarter network.

Songdo, in South Korea, is a Smart City built from the ground up. It is grand in both scale and ambition, and in many ways is an experiment that is being closely watched by most other countries in Asia and around the world. The city features some of the most cutting edge technology in urban development and planning, including:

The city is built around the airport, to reduce travel times. It is 15 minutes from Seoul’s Incheon airport.

Built-in sensors on streets and buildings monitor and manage human traffic. Up to 40 per cent of the city will have green space. Pipes connecting offices and apartments will manage and recycle waste.

The city itself is expected to be finished by 2018 at an estimated cost of $35 billion. Similar to this is the zero-carbon Masdar City project, being built close to Abu Dhabi.

Masdar is designed to be the flagship project for Abu Dhabi’s move towards a more sustainable and less oil-dependent future, and the city does have some unique aspects.

It will have a 45-metre wind tower based on traditional Arabian wind tower designs that will keep the street levels 15 to 20 degrees Celsius cooler than the surrounding area

Solar panels will adorn the roofs, powering most of the city needs. The city will be mostly car-free, and driverless electric pods transport users back and forth.

Much like Songdo, the Smart City is still being constructed, with a continuously shifting deadline (now predicted to be finished somewhere between 2020 to 2025) and a cost that sits somewhere close to US$16 billion.

Asian cities are still a long way from reaching that utopian goal, but with such efforts being spearheaded across the region, along with cities like Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong featuring high on global Smart City lists, it’s only a matter of time before Asia takes the lead in providing global Smart City solutions.


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