For example, Phuket, in Thailand, is pursuing an interesting integration project to deal with rising tourist numbers. One of the most-visited destinations in Asia, Phuket will collect data on tourist’s behaviour from Wi-Fi, the internet-of-things sensors, wristbands, GPS, and social media and then use this data to better collect waste, provide security and understand tourist consumption patterns. To achieve this, Phuket is looking for technical support in data analytics, business intelligence and facial recognition technology, as well as expertise in the fields of data management and blockchain.
Another important commercial entry point to the ASCN is the foreign development aid funding from countries including the US, Japan and Australia, which are involved in offering ideas from their own urban design experiences. This aid funding provides an entry channel for businesses which can align with the lender country priorities.
Professor Clark also says cities may have chosen flagship projects, but will need help from business in designing and budgeting the roll-out and scale-up. In April, HSBC presented ASEAN finance ministers with a series of recommendations for infrastructure development including a proposal for an Urban Infrastructure Network, which would provide training for city officials to develop bankable and sustainable smart city projects.
How businesses can make the most of this opportunity
The first step for businesses to break into this new regional opportunity is to look at the diverse projects being nominated by the ASCN cities and decide where their skillsets and solutions are most relevant and required. For example, Davao City has prioritised increasing public safety through intelligent surveillance and better data collection and assessment, and improving its urban transport through smart mobility. This creates an opportunity for mid-sized organisations with an ASEAN footprint that can offer information and communications technology expertise, security or transport services or solutions, or relevant consultancy and advisory services.
Having identified where their services are required, Professor Clark advises that businesses should then visit these cities to examine their funding plans and build contacts and networks. The smart city programme is now a fixture of the ASEAN meeting circuit with city officials meeting to benchmark their progress and look for business partners.