Speech by MOS Zaqy Mohamad at the ASEAN Smart Cities Governance Workshop

May 25, 2018 19:00


I am happy to join you at this closing session of the ASEAN Smart Cities Governance Workshop (SCGW). I’m glad that we have all come together this week to reaffirm our strong ASEAN ties. With 25 cities across the 10 ASEAN Member States represented here, this workshop is an important gateway for our mutual learning and cooperation, and is the beginning of many future collaborative projects.

The Significance of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network

As many of you would have known, most of ASEAN’s growth has been, and will continue to be, driven by urban centres, with 90 million more people expected to urbanise by 2030. This rapid urbanisation, while desirable, comes with challenges as it has implications on a number of important issues including congestion, water and air quality. We will also see rising inequality, and security issues, as people move from the rural areas and fill the cities. These are challenges which we, as ASEAN Member States recognise, and have therefore come together to form the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) to synergise efforts across the cities and address these issues with technology.

The ASCN is a collaborative platform which ASEAN Member States can leverage to work towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development, using technology as an enabler. Through ASCN, ASEAN is poised to become a much more integrated region and the outcomes will be much greater than the sum of parts. It will also contribute to the building of a stronger, and more formidable ASEAN community. 

Over the past week, you have discussed the various technological and digital solutions which can be deployed to address some of the issues arising from rapid urbanisation, as well as to enhance quality and accessibility of services. You have also had the opportunity to meet with 16 external partners and 47 companies, visited many agencies, as well as heard from a wide range of urban planners and experts who have shared their best practices and successful case studies with you. Although every city has its own circumstances and faces challenges of different scale and nature, I’m glad that many of you have come up to me to share that this is one of the more beneficial and interesting workshops that you have had for some time. So I hope that you have found this meaningful, and found the networking sessions useful as well, and that you will take back the relevant information to your respective cities to study their feasibility.

The Use of Technology is still a Means, not an End

Our cities have to be liveable and sustainable in order to attract and retain talent and investment. Our cities need to have good public spaces, walkable streets, and greenery which is accessible for everyone, while incorporating modern infrastructure in order to be competitive and to offer a quality living environment for our citizens. 

In Singapore, we are trying out more productive construction methods, and leveraging technological and innovative solutions to be a Smart Nation. We are also tapping on digital infrastructure to change the way we plan and in turn overcome existing challenges. We hope to continue to develop our technological capabilities and innovative urban solutions, so that we can continue to improve and transform our city, and are excited to hear of the many new ideas that you have for your own cities.

For example, in Davao City, efforts are underway to address the growing challenges on the traffic management via the “Intelligent Transport and Traffic System and Security” project. The project will implement a host of integrated traffic and transport projects in order to further enhance traffic management capabilities with innovations in technology, making traffic flow smoother and less congested. Over in Phuket, resources are being dedicated to develop a City Data Platform, which will build big data for city management. This data will be made available for local governments and business owners to improve their operations and increase productivity. These are just two of the many promising projects that were brought up over the past few days, and I hope that all of you will be able to roll out your projects, and enhance the liveability and sustainability of ASEAN smart cities.

Conclusion

The Smart Cities Governance Workshop is the first meeting of all the ASEAN Member States, bringing together member states as well as ASEAN external partners. This a good first step towards establishing the ASCN, and I look forward to seeing all of you back in July for the inaugural ASEAN Smart Cities Network meeting which will take place alongside the World Cities Summit. So hopefully by then, you will have a better idea of the projects that you want to carry out, and many of you will have implementation plans or pilots ready, to showcase the best of ASEAN. This will be where the ASEAN Smart Cities Framework which you have worked on over the past week will be endorsed for adoption by ASEAN leaders at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018.

I hope you enjoy the remaining period of your stay in Singapore, and look forward to seeing you back in July. Thank you.