Smart city lessons from south-east Asia and Australia: the importance of an integrated smart city solution for direction and growth


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BY David Klingberg, Director and Principal, Smart City Strategies and Solutions 

Kuala Lumpur has become the first city outside China to trial Alibaba Cloud’s AI program designed to reduce traffic congestion in the Malaysian capital, it was reported recently. 

Further south, the Malaysian government is supporting and championing the growth of smart city initiatives through the Smart City Iskandar program, which is leading to the creation of positive outcomes and growth in economic, social, community and environmental sectors for huge numbers of their populations in large and significant regions.

Smart City Iskandar Malaysia was endorsed by the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 1 November, 2012, during the 2nd inter session at the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) meeting in Kuala Lumpur. A mandate was given to the attending ministers to venture into smart-related projects to be based in Iskandar, Malaysia. This will be part of the effort towards recognising the Iskandar region as a pilot for smart city projects in Malaysia.

Smart City Iskandar Malaysia and the Kuala Lumpur pilot program are added-value-enablers, aimed at providing ease of doing business and improving living quality across Malaysia. 

Meanwhile, the Indonesian government is continuing its 100 smart cities initiative – investing $420 million USD into the development of 100 smart cities in 100 districts. 

Alongside this, the Sulawesi port city of Makassar is pushing ahead with its own smart city strategy and solution. 

These programs and initiatives rely on a framework that focuses on three areas — namely economy, environment and society — and promotes six elements — namely, Smart Economy, Smart Governance, Smart Environment, Smart Mobility, Smart People and Smart Living.

These are the same areas and elements that constituted the framework for the delivery of the award-winning Newcastle Smart City Strategy. 

With spending on smart cities in the Asia-Pacific region (except Japan) forecast by global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation to increase by 16.8% to $35 billion in 2022, the time has come for city operators across Asia to consider how they can add value to their smart city strategies. 

A survey of more than 150 global city operators and thought leaders conducted by SmartCitiesWorld and Phillips Lighting revealed Singapore to be thought the “best” smart city in the world, outranking London and Barcelona. 

While we simply might look to the city-state for a model to replicate, the caveat here, as the Smart cities: understanding the challenges and opportunities report notes, is that “Singapore does have certain advantages that other smart cities may struggle to replicate: the city–nation state – directly and indirectly – owns or controls many aspects of daily life, including public transportation and housing.”

However, there are still elements of Singapore’sSmart Nation: the way forward smart city strategy that other city operators should take a look at. 

A key component of the strategy is to develop “next-generation digital infrastructure to catalyse widespread digitalisation”. The Singapore government plans to do this by developing platforms relating to the government’s Strategic National Projects, such as National Digital Identity, E-payments and the Smart Nation Sensor Platform. These “enabling platforms” will “benefit multiple stakeholders … and enable the further development of digital services”. 

The smart city strategies of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia All appear to be built on customised technology solutions. However, city operators looking to streamline their transformation process should look to a lightweight integration platform with proven success, such as Invipo. 

A unified command & control platform for city technology management and maintenance, Invipo integrates all city verticals into one centralised super-city application that operates on premises or as a service. 

All of this enables municipalities to make better decisions based on hard data, including trends, statistics and reporting tools, and ultimately leads to the improved day-to-day living experience for citizens. 

As stated above, it is worth noting that the smart city programs and initiatives mentioned above use exactly the same framework of six elements that we at Smart City Strategies and Solutions used to deliver the City of Newcastle’s smart city strategy, for which we won a national award. 

Readers should also be aware that Smart City Strategies and Solutions is in partnership with Invipo to deliver its platform to city operators across Asia. 

For a further understanding of Smart City Strategies and Solutions’ partnership with Invipo, or to learn more about how we can design and deliver your smart city solution, please visit or email me at


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