Tap on the Economic Potential of Bandar Pintar
Professor Dato Dr Ahmad Ibrahim
Fellow Academy of Science, Head of Research of Confexhub Group
The pandemic has undoubtedly exerted a heavy toll on the country’s economy. Very few sectors have emerged unscathed. Some are more detailed than others. The tourism sector which has been bringing 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. What has become clear is that we need new avenues to drive the economy. The health sector holds some promise Whether we like it or not, even with vaccines available, negotiating the complexities of public health will no longer be the same. With warnings coming from the WHO of new more virulent viruses appearing, we have to seriously rethink our public health strategy to survive another such pandemic. Many agree on the critical role of technology in dealing with future emergencies. After analysing the Covid-19 cases reported around the world, experts also agree that most of the infections are concentrated in urban areas. This is to be expected since the virus spreads the fastest in crowded spaces. Where else but the cities are the world’s biggest source of crowds.
Cities have also 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. The sources of GHGs include transportation, wastes, households and industries, to name some. It is no coincidence therefore that the management of cities has become the centre of attention when dealing with the two biggest threats to the survival of the human race, the public health pandemic and climate change. We have seen at close range how the pandemic has disrupted not only global health but also the economy of the world. However, since the full force of climate change is not yet fully felt, we have yet to go through a similar disruptive experience with climate change. Some say we may not survive the full force of climate change. Whatever it is, in both climate change and the pandemic, the enemy is not visible to the naked eye. In the pandemic, the virus is the silent enemy. Whilst in the case of climate change, what we also do not see are the 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. This is where the management of cities uses the latest technologies to address issues on climate change-related GHG emissions, as well as dealing with the disruptive forces of future pandemics. The key deliverables include the efficient management of cities as well as the high quality of life for their citizens. Technology is the key enabler, especially those internet-driven digital group of technologies. However, the success of smart cities is only possible if both the city authorities and the citizens embrace the right technology mindset. But most of all, the 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 her Smart City Framework. The Framework speaks about the policy for smart cities and the strategy and implementation plan. However, critics see the Framework lacks outlining the process of implementation. Countries which have been successful in implementing smart cities are clear on the process, especially the institution to coordinate and drive the implementation. MIGHT in partnership with CONFEXHUB is addressing the outlook for the smart city framework, with a view to understanding the gaps that exist in the implementation. The relevant 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 FDIs to the country.