Will the next successful smart city be in Southeast Asia?

The region is embracing the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”


As the world moves on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it begs the question: Will it take root in Southeast Asia first?

If technological and real estate trends continue, the region is on course to see a massive metamorphosis in the way denizens work, shop, ride, and live for the next five or 10 years, according to a new report by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

The real estate consultancy expects Southeast Asian economies to grow by 5 percent year after year until 2020. By then, the region’s middle-income population will have grown by 9 percent or 70 million.

For perspective, global economic growth is pegged at 3.52 percent a year over the same period.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), characterised by a “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

WEF claims that the world is entering an era of mobile connectivity enhanced by unprecedented technological breakthroughs in such fields as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and quantum computing.

Singapore seems to be leading the way in terms of smarter transportation infrastructure. This year, the Ministry of Transport ordered the use of autonomous mini buses to convey passengers from several MRT stops. The city-state is also mulling a global navigation satellite system to track cars for traffic management and toll collection by 2020.

Last year, the Singapore government ordered the installation of sensors in taxis and public buses.

Meanwhile, crowdsourced navigation apps such as Waze now count Jakarta as one of its top 10 markets. In 2014, the city government signed up with Waze for real-time updates on traffic congestions and road accidents.

In the Philippines, Grab partnered with the World Bank and the Department of Transportation and Communications this year to build the Open Traffic Initiative for traffic management and road safety.

In the hospitality sector, home-sharing through platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway now accounts for 2 percent of occupied room nights in Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, JLL noted.

JLL expects mobile internet and cloud computing to continue driving demand by organisations in developed markets for office space in ASEAN cities, especially Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

According to JLL, hot desking and remote working have pushed down office space per capita in Southeast Asia’s new office leases by 20 percent over the last 10 years. Ten to 15 percent of offices will consist of co-working spaces by 2030.

Online commerce is now more widespread than ever across the region. Around 50-90 percent of consumers outside tier-one cities in Southeast Asian countries have used mobile phones to shop online.

Writing for The Washington Post, architect Roger K. Lewis downplayed concerns about privacy in such cities of the future. “A lot of what should remain private is already made public,” Lewis wrote.

“Who needs Big Brother when we’ve got Facebook, Twitter and YouTube?”

It’s going to take more than Samsung to make smart cities a reality though. In a piece for LinkedIn, GE chief digital officer John Gordon said that the massive requirements for open infrastructure in future cities demand an industrial company with the savvy of a technology firm.

“We don’t have ulterior motives of collecting personal data on individuals so that we can advertise to them later,” he wrote.

Source – Property Report

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