Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang will be joining the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), which was proposed earlier in April by Singapore. The ASCN aims to facilitate cooperation in the region on smart cities for sustainable development. A total of 26 cities from member states will be joining the network.
ASEAN Smart Cities Network
The ASCN is a platform, which would include at least three cities including the capital, from each member state, that would be developed into smart cities. The network focuses on developing digital infrastructure and increasing connectivity in the region in areas such as electronic payments. Other areas of focus include city operations, energy and water conservation. The ASCN will be officially launched at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018.
Goals of the network
The smart city network aims to:
- Increase cooperation in the development of smart cities, under which member states will share best practices and develop action plans for the next seven years, which can lead to a framework for development;
- Work with the private sector on feasible and commercially viable projects;
- Procure funding from external partners. Member states will be required to enter into partnerships with external partners including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Global Infrastructure Hub.
Major components of the plan
The ASCN plan includes four major components:
- City-specific Action Plans for Smart City Development (2018-2025) which would include projects and action plans that ASEAN members will implement by 2025;
- ASEAN Smart Cities Framework, which will guide the development, while taking local demands and cultures into consideration;
- Annual Meeting of the member states will be a platform for sharing ideas and actions plans;
- Twinning programs, which would assist in developing partnerships between member cities and external partners for implementation of projects.
The smart city development programs focus on issues such as transportation, improving water quality, meeting energy demands, healthcare, education, public services, data, and information and communications technology (ICT). As each member state will have different priorities depending on their existing infrastructure and economy, they will be allowed to focus on limited areas that best suits them.
Need for smart cities
As of now, 49 percent of ASEAN’s population resides in urban areas. Between 2015 and 2030, around 90 million people will move to the cities, while cities with a population between 200,000 and 2 million will be responsible for about 40 percent of the growth.
This increase in urbanization will strain major cities in terms of infrastructure, traffic, water/air quality, waste management, poverty, security, and safety. Technology will be instrumental in resolving the majority of these issues. It will also lead to an increase in the quality of life, urbanization, and help in creating new opportunities. However, the success of a smart city will not only depend on the government, but also regulators and companies that need to focus on new and efficient technologies for a sustainable development.
Hanoi aims to be a smart city by 2030 and to do so it has decided to focus on four major sectors, healthcare, education, transport, and tourism. Hanoi already has implemented parking systems that allow users to search for parking lots and pay through mobile devices and is planning to launch it in all the districts in 2018. It is also developing a digital traffic map to manage public transportation in the city.
In education, 2,700 schools and universities have introduced electronic school reports and family-to-school contacts as well as an online enrollment system. Regarding healthcare, the city was the first to introduce e-documents in its health management system, with 900,000 records so far.
By 2020, the focus will be on developing the core infrastructure and smart applications, while the second phase from 2020 to 2025 will focus on making the solutions operational.
Ho Chi Minh City
HCM City aims to be the first smart city in Vietnam. For the next two years, it is focusing on cloud computing infrastructure, big data, building data warehouses/data centers, security-monitoring centers, and open data ecosystem. In addition, the city is planning to introduce smart solutions in healthcare, food safety, education, traffic management, flood control, and law and order.
For the past nine years, Da Nang has consistently topped the Vietnam ICT Index rankings, which ranks cities on their readiness for information and communications technology development and application. The city plans on becoming a smart city by 2020 and a green city by 2025.
The city is working with FPT, the largest information technology service company in Vietnam on various smart city projects on traffic systems, hospital patient databases, and natural disaster management systems. In addition, the city has also developed solutions focusing on public transportation, water supervision, and residential management through their e-Government system.
In addition to the current smart city projects, which focuses on ICT infrastructure, public transportation, healthcare, education, and government services, a greater focus will be needed on issues such as growing energy demand, water shortages, wastewater treatment, and environmental pollution, to achieve an inclusive and sustainable development model.
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