Asean unveils 26 ‘smart’ cities 

The Asean leaders’ summit in Singapore has named 26 cities to pilot its Asean Smart Cities Network, in the hope of setting up a collaborative platform where up to three cities per member nation work towards a common goal of technologically focused and sustainable urban development.

The cities include Singapore, Johor Bahru, Phuket, Yangon, Phnom Penh and Vientiane.

Three Indonesian cities, Jakarta, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Banyuwangi (pictured) in East Java, were proposed for the network. 

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Singapore said the network was designed to achieve a shared goal of smart-city development with each country being asked to propose up to three cities. 

She said the smart cities movement was an effort to encourage more effective, transparent and reliable governance, stimulating the use of technology to advance the city in accordance with its needs and potential. 

The summit mentioned the challenges of rapid urbanisation with issues like congestion, water and air quality. Technological and digital solutions could be shared to resolve these issues and enhance quality and accessibility of services, the statement said. 

The network aimed to learn from existing technological developments and try to spread their knowledge throughout the 10-member bloc, it said, “thereby contributing to Asean community-building”.

The network is due to run until 2025.

The aim is to secure endorsement for the programme at the first Asean Smart Cities Network meeting in July, while the leaders are due to adopt the framework at the 33rd Asean Summit in November.

As part of the framework, member cities can each pair up with one of the external partners to cooperate on smart-city development.

The leaders’ summit has also issued a statement on cybersecurity cooperation to transboundary digital threats.

It said the leaders shared the vision of a peaceful, secure and resilient cyberspace that served as an enabler of economic progress, enhanced regional connectivity and betterment of living standards. 

The leaders said they recognised the value of enhanced dialogue and cooperation on cybersecurity issues in regional crime-fighting bodies.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the Asean conference he was hosting that so-called Islamic State posed “very real” threats to the region, despite the group’s defeat in West Asia. 

“Southeast Asia is at peace,” Lee told the summit, “but these threats are very real.”

Asean’s embrace of technology also made it especially susceptible to security threats, Lee added. 

“We need to be resilient to both conventional threats and also nonconventional threats, such as terrorism and cyberattacks,” said Lee, the world leader with the highest official pay of US$1.7 million a year.

Lee also said the summit had agreed to encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to return Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State “in a safe, secure and dignified way, without undue delay”. 


‘Smart’ Banyuwangi. Picture credit: Wikimedia