AS Malaysia becomes more urbanised, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the benefits of urbanisation are equitably shared.
Policies to manage urban growth need to ensure access to infrastructure and social services for all, focusing on the needs of the urban poor and other vulnerable groups for housing, transportation, education, health care, decent work and safe environment.
The government needs to build not only self-contained cities but smart cities that will integrate information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets.
A smart city is promoted to use urban informatics and technology to improve service delivery.
Through ICT, it allows city officials to interact with the community and the city infrastructure, monitoring what is happening, how the city is taking shape and how to ensure a better quality of life.
The six pillars needed to build a smart city are smart governance, smart economy, smart mobility, smart living, smart environment and smart people.
The human factor is crucial to a smart city.
Since ICT is one of the main features of a smart city, residents need to have additional technological skills to interact and benefit from their smart city as well as to improve it.
The development and management of urban centres and smart cities is one of the major challenges of our time as well as one of the most complex tasks of our societies.
The major challenges of the 21st century are urban. With the rapid urbanisation now taking place in the country, the trend is towards urban development.
It is time for the government to set up an Institute for Urban Governance that can function as a national resource and training centre for urban governance and development.
The institute, which can be established with expertise from institutions of higher learning, research organisations and government agencies, will conduct academic programmes in urban planning for local government officials and others to better manage our cities and towns.
Urbanisation should lead to community spirit building.
Where new urban centres are built, efforts must be taken to build a sense of community and belonging among residents.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE