Iskandar Malaysia in Johor is the pilot region for a smart city model for Malaysia.
THE aim of a smart city programme is to enhance the people's quality of life, and to achieve a sustainable economic and technological ecosystem that would ultimately create smart, connected and inclusive communities.
Iskandar Malaysia in Johor has been chosen as the pilot region for a smart city model for the country as well as the world during the first inter-session meeting of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) in San Jose, California, in July this year.
The GSIAC was formed by the Malaysian government and the New York Academy of Sciences in 2011 to drive Malaysia's efforts to accelerate economic development through science, technology and innovation. The GSIAC serves as an advisory panel to Prime Minster Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and is composed of international experts.
Najib, as chairman of the GSIAC, has endorsed the smart city programme with a view to benefit and transform the living standards of the people through a sustainable economy and technology-based ecosystem towards a smart and inclusive socio-economic growth.
According to Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, the Iskandar Malaysia Smart City Framework is based on three main pillars: economy, environment and social aspects.
He says these elements will set the foundation for a city built on the “smart integration of investments in human and social capital, combining hard and soft infrastructure that fuel sustainable economic development, a high quality of life, wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance.”
Smart cities have been implemented in the West and while definitions of a smart city may vary depending on the priorities of the respective country, Ismail says that for Iskandar Malaysia, the focus is on:
“How we attract economy in a smart way with catalytic projects, by complementing Singapore, and meeting global requirements.
“How we get smart and good buy-in from the public in the things that we want to do and implement, and the usage of new channels of communication for the citizens, such as public participation for feedback, utilising the Web to reach out to larger groups of people, encouraging the private sector to work together with the public sector in providing the necessary infrastructure.
“How we can conserve the environment in a smart way, by enticing developers/investors to do their part for the environment by giving incentives for green technology and infrastructure, and introducing green economy and carbon credits.
“How we should plan for smart mobility and connectivity by focusing on public transport instead of building more roads, and improving strategic ICT infrastructure to ease the process of doing business as well as for an easier lifestyle without actual movement on the roads. The ICT improvements would also provide new economic opportunity for people living in city as well as in rural areas.
“How we can produce smart people and mindset by taking on the grassroots and younger generation, providing training and events to promote harmony-living, and job opportunities and reach-out programmes.
“How we provide quality living in a smart way, by having and promoting shared responsibilities between the police, business communities and the people to ensure a safe and secure Iskandar Malaysia, via the SafeCAM project and Rakan Cop. There should also be diversified and choices in education and health management for a better lifestyle, and varied recreational facilities focusing on family-oriented activities.”
Ismail says that countries like South Korea and Japan also promote the same concepts for their smart cities but their focus is more on ICT.
“Their concept is not in line with Iskandar Malaysia's vision of a sustainable metropolis of international standing' which focuses on economic growth, balance with the environment, and social sustainability. Therefore, Iskandar Malaysia's approach is more similar to that of European countries.”
On Iskandar Malaysia being the chosen venue for the smart city project, Ismail says that Iskandar Malaysia is one of the fast economic growth corridors in the country.
With its existing track record and various completed blueprints and action plans, he says Iskandar Malaysia can accelerate the programme because:
> Iskandar Malaysia's vision and pillars are similar to the framework benchmark with other international cities.
> Iskandar Malaysia already has related blueprints that outline detailed action plans and many are in line with the smart city framework.
> Iskandar Malaysia consists of green field and brown field areas with different infrastructure and capacity which can be implemented nationwide and provide platform for “quick win” projects.
> Iskandar Malaysia has already developed a sustainable implementable model whereby projects are privately-driven and require minimum government intervention.
> Iskandar Malaysia has IRDA which has the resources to plan, promote and facilitate initiatives such as the smart city.
The smart city programme will be applied in Nusajaya whose development has already embraced the smart city concept.
“What we are doing in Nusajaya is the early buy-in not only for Iskandar Malaysia but also for Malaysia. We need to have something measurable that people can see and experience for themselves.
“Success will not only be for Iskandar Malaysia but for the nation as well, as the smart city concept will be replicated in other parts of the country,” says Ismail.
While initial attention is on Nusajaya, the smart city programmes and initiatives will eventually cover other areas in the Iskandar Malaysia region, he adds.
For a smart city to work, it requires the efforts of the people and the public sector. Ismail says the public sector's role is to build the required infrastructure and to disseminate awareness and understanding of the smart city concept.
“But at the end of the day, it is the community that must own it,” he says.
Iskandar Malaysia the country's first economic growth corridor was launched on Nov 4, 2006. It was then known as the South Johor Economic Region. In April 2008, the name was changed to Iskandar Malaysia in honour of the late Sultan Iskandar Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail of Johor.
Iskandar Malaysia covers a 2,217sqkm area in the southernmost part of Johor. Three times bigger than Singapore and twice the size of Hong Kong, Iskandar Malaysia is divided into five flagship development zones: Johor Baru City Centre, Nusajaya, Eastern Gate Development, Western Gate Development and Senai-Kulai.
Related Stories: Smart City-Smart Village Programme is second high-impact project
Did you find this article insightful?