LETTER: THE Covid-19 pandemic has exerted a heavy toll on the economy. Very few sectors have emerged unscathed. The tourism sector, which brought in much revenue to the country, suffers the most.
Air travel has almost grounded to a halt. Hotels are reeling from the drop in occupancy. We need new avenues to drive the economy.
The health sector holds promise. Even with vaccines available, negotiating the complexities of public health will no longer be the same.
With warnings coming from the World Health Organisation of more virulent viruses appearing, we have to rethink our public health strategy to survive another pandemic.
Many agree on the critical role of technology in dealing with future emergencies. Experts also agree that most of the infections are concentrated on urban areas.
This is to be expected since the virus spreads the fastest in crowded spaces. Cities are the world’s biggest source of crowds.
Cities have come under scrutiny for another growing concern, climate change. There is no denying that cities are the obvious centres for greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the world due to transportation, wastes, households and industries.
Some say we may not survive the full force of climate change. With climate change and the pandemic, the enemy is not visible to the eye.
In the pandemic, the virus is the silent enemy. In the case of climate change, we also do not see GHGs, mainly carbon dioxide arising from the combustion of fossil fuels.
Since cities account for a major share of problems related to the pandemic and GHG emissions, the sustainable management of cities has attracted much discussion among world governments. The concept of a smart city has evolved from such exchange among academics and professionals.
Technology is the key enabler, especially those Internet-driven digital group of technologies.
However, the success of smart cities is possible only if city authorities and citizens embrace the right technology mindset.
Most of all, cities must put in place the right digital infrastructure, a key technology driving smart cities.
Like most countries around the world, Malaysia has also unveiled its Smart City Framework, the policy for smart cities and the strategy and implementation plan.
However, critics say the framework lacks outlining the process of implementation.
Countries that implemented smart cities are clear on the process, especially the institution to coordinate and drive the implementation.
The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), in partnership with CONFEXHUB, is addressing the outlook for the smart city framework to understand the gaps that exist in the implementation.
Technology providers for the seven components of the smart city agenda have been invited to position themselves to be visible in the Smart City Outlook Report.
There is no doubt that there is immense new economic potential in smart city projects.
Based on the progress worldwide, our cities have a long way to go to catch up. And catch up we must because smart cities are among the key criteria to attract foreign direct investment.
PROFESSOR DATUK DR AHMAD IBRAHIM
Fellow, Academy of Science,
UCSI UNIVERSITY, Kuala Lumpur