Cities of the fu­ture

To meet the needs of an evolv­ing city and so­ci­ety, more state gov­ern­ments and lo­cal coun­cils have taken up the chal­lenge to cre­ate smart cities across Malaysia. The pub­lic, too, can con­trib­ute to the smart man­age­ment of the city by high­light­ing the proble

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page - By SHARMILA NAIR bytz@thes­ The

YOU’VE heard of the term “smart city”. You may even be liv­ing in one right now. But what ex­actly is a smart city, and what can it do for you?

Ac­cord­ing to the Sus­tain­able Cities Stan­dard­i­s­a­tion Frame­work In Re­la­tions To ICT As­pects 2016 (Tech­ni­cal Code), a smart sus­tain­able city is an in­no­va­tive city that utilises in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy, as well as other means, to im­prove qual­ity of life.

The Tech­ni­cal Code, de­vel­oped by the Malaysian Tech­ni­cal Stan­dards Fo­rum Bhd (MTSFB) and reg­is­tered by the Malaysian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Com­mis­sion (MCMC), also states that a smart sus­tain­able city im­proves the ef­fi­ciency of ur­ban op­er­a­tion and ser­vices, and com­pet­i­tive­ness, while en­sur­ing that it meets the needs of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, with re­spect to eco­nomic, so­cial, en­vi­ron­ment as well as cul­tural as­pects.

“Strictly speak­ing, there isn’t any city in Malaysia that truly qual­i­fies as a smart city, but from our ob­ser­va­tions, sev­eral lo­cal coun­cils and state gov­ern­ments are tak­ing the lead in terms of im­ple­ment­ing some smart ini­tia­tives,” says Global Vi­sion Board for Smart Cities In­no­va­tion Lab board mem­ber Vin­cent Fong.

“I be­lieve that all states, to some ex­tent, are at the very least, at­tempt­ing to up­grade their cities. Fong was part of the fo­rum tasked to pro­duce the Tech­ni­cal Code.

The smart city de­vel­op­ment fo­cuses on sev­eral key ar­eas such as mo­bil­ity, en­vi­ron­ment, waste man­age­ment, e-gover­nance and, most im­por­tantly, its peo­ple.

Ur­ban mo­bil­ity

Ear­lier this year, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) un­veiled its new­est app eDrive which is linked to the In­te­grated Trans­porta­tion In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem (Itis) that al­lows road users to check on traf­fic and plan their jour­ney.

The free app, avail­able on An­droid and iOS de­vices, al­lows users to view im­ages from 40 sta­tion­ary cam­eras in­stalled on ma­jor roads in Kuala Lumpur, in­clud­ing Jalan Syed Pu­tra, Jalan Ma­hameru and the Kuala Lumpur-Serem­ban High­way.

The im­ages are re­freshed ev­ery three min­utes.

On top of that, the app also has the Park­ing Guid­ance In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem that pro­vides the num­ber of park­ing spots avail­able at 14 shop­ping malls such as Suria KLCC, Pavil­ion Kuala Lumpur, Low Yat Plaza and Maju Junc­tion.

Sev­eral lo­cal coun­cils in Se­lan­gor are also mak­ing park­ing a breeze for users hav­ing in­tro­duced the Flex­iPark­ing app which en­ables users to pay for park­ing.

Among them are the Sepang Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil, Shah Alam City Coun­cil, Am­pang Jaya Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil, and Kuala Lan­gat Dis­trict Coun­cil.

Users can regis­ter up to six cars and the app will send a no­ti­fi­ca­tion 10 min­utes be­fore the park­ing pe­riod is about to ex­pire.

Green ef­fort

In re­cent years, the Me­laka Govern­ment has been quite ac­tive in push­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity agenda, work­ing with in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions such as United Na­tions In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion, World Bank, 100 Re­silient Cities, Global En­vi­ron­ment Fa­cil­ity, and lo­cally with the Malaysian In­dus­try-Govern­ment Group for High Tech­nol­ogy.

It was the first state to de­ploy elec­tric buses in 2015, in its ef­forts to to­wards im­prov­ing air qual­ity by re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions. The buses are equipped with CCTVs on the inside and out­side.

“The Me­laka Govern­ment has also re­cently pushed for the Me­laka Road Light­ing Pro­ject which will see the in­stal­la­tion 100,000 en­ergy-ef­fi­cient LED road lamps across the state. This is a good move as a study by Chicago con­sult­ing firm Nav­i­gant shows that street light­ing ac­counts for 80% of a city’s en­ergy bill, and a sep­a­rate study by Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute in­di­cates that light­ing con­sumes 20% of the world’s en­ergy,” adds Fong.

In Au­gust, it was an­nounced that the Govern­ment has al­lo­cated RM4.5mil to Langkawi as part of the Elec­tric Taxi Pi­lot Pro­gramme and Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle Aware­ness Pro­gramme for 2017 and 2018. Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Tun Razak ear­marked Langkawi as one of the seven mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils to be trans­formed into low car­bon cities un­der the Low Car­bon Cities Frame­work, and be­come Malaysia’s first low-car­bon is­land by 2030.

Waste not, want not

The Se­lan­gor Govern­ment has launched a few smart ini­tia­tives to tackle the waste man­age­ment is­sue within the state. Its first Smart Waste So­lu­tion Lab in SS2 went fully op­er­a­tional in May and is aim­ing to re­duce waste in Pe­tal­ing Jaya by half.

In Septem­ber, StarMetro re­ported Pe­tal­ing Jaya deputy mayor Jo­hary Anuar as say­ing: “We have been liv­ing on a lin­ear econ­omy, where trash is dis­posed di­rectly into the land­fills.

“But if we can turn the lin­ear into a cir­cu­lar econ­omy, then more trash will be re­cy­cled and less trash sent to land­fills.”

A study by Pe­tal­ing Jaya City Coun­cil (MBPJ) showed that 600 tonnes of waste is dis­posed ev­ery day within the city, with 49% com­pris­ing or­ganic waste. The lab pro­cesses 15 tonnes of food waste daily, turn­ing it into liq­uid fer­tiliser, bio­gas and de­ter­gent.

“If all the or­ganic waste can be re­cy­cled and made into com­post, we can ul­ti­mately re­duce waste by half,” Jo­hary added.

Cur­rently only about 300 hawk-

ers from the SS2 morn­ing mar­ket and food court are con­tribut­ing to­wards the smart waste so­lu­tion. MBPJ is ex­pect­ing more hawk­ers and even res­i­dents in other PJ ar­eas to fol­low suit. The Se­lan­gor Govern­ment is also plan­ning to set up an­other waste so­lu­tion and re­cy­cling cen­tre in SS8 next year.

Safety is key

The Pe­nang Is­land City Coun­cil (MBPP) mayor Datuk Maimu­nah Mohd Shar­iff an­nounced in Septem­ber that the coun­cil would be in­stalling flood sen­sors in sev­eral flood prone ar­eas on the is­land. This, she said, would alert the coun­cil on the rising wa­ter level.

Around 20 to 30 de­vices will be in­stalled by the road­sides in flash flood hotspots on the is­land, and when­ever trig­gered, they will send sig­nals to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties. MBPP will add an­other 150 CCTVs to the ex­ist­ing 700 on the is­land to mon­i­tor the safety of its peo­ple at all times.

Open to pub­lic

Cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion is def­i­nitely a key com­po­nent in any smart city. The free iClean Se­lan­gor app al­lows users to do their part in main­tain­ing the state’s smart waste man­age­ment so­lu­tion. The app is avail­able on iOS and An­droid, and en­cour­ages users to take pho­to­graphs of un­col­lected garbage within Klang, Se­layang and Am­pang Jaya town­ships. Users need to regis­ter be­fore lodg­ing their com­plaint via the app, which would be geo-tagged and di­rected to the com­mand cen­tre han­dled by the Se­lan­gor Govern­ment’s garbage col­lec­tion mon­i­tor­ing agency KDEB Waste Man­age­ment Sdn Bhd. The garbage will then be col­lected within four days.

The Se­lan­gor Govern­ment is also in talks with the de­vel­op­ers of traf­fic nav­i­ga­tion app Waze to build a mid­dle­ware for road users to flag pot­holes. The in­for­ma­tion will then be chan­nelled to the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties for ac­tion.

In a sim­i­lar vein, the KLCares app de­vel­oped by DBKL al­lows the pub­lic to lodge com­plaints about var­i­ous is­sues – from bro­ken sign­boards to faulty traf­fic lights – within the cap­i­tal city. Users can down­load the app on An­droid and iOS plat­forms. They can even at­tach pho­to­graphs to sup­port their com­plaints.

Healthy city

“I be­lieve that the goals of smart cities are to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of the ur­ban sys­tem and en­hance the qual­ity of life for its res­i­dents. Hu­man health (and health-re­lated be­hav­iour) plays a key role in cre­at­ing smart cities,” says Aus­tralian Catholic Uni­ver­sity’s In­sti­tute for Health and Age­ing Built En­vi­ron­ment Pro­fes­sor Takemi Sugiyama.

He claims that cities make peo­ple fat. A 2016 study con­ducted by Sugiyama in North West Ade­laide in Aus­tralia showed that the dis­tance of res­i­den­tial ar­eas from the city is as­so­ci­ated with the in­crease of waist cir­cum­fer­ence among its work­ing adults.

“The fur­ther peo­ple lived from the city, the higher their au­to­mo­bile de­pen­dency. The lack of ac­tive travel and too much time spent sit­ting in cars re­sult in un­healthy adults work­ing in the city,” says Sugiyama, speak­ing at the Smart Cities Asia 2017 con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur. “Obe­sity is a ma­jor is­sue that the mod­ern so­ci­ety has to tackle.”

Sugiyama sug­gests trans­porta­tion ori­ented devel­op­ments like the Mo­bike and oBike bike shar­ing so­lu­tions.

“These bike shar­ing pro­grammes can prove to be an ef­fec­tive last mile/first mile so­lu­tion for pub­lic trans­porta­tion. On top of that, the Malaysian city en­vi­ron­ment is largely obe­so­genic, but such ini­tia­tives can lead to ac­tive and health­ier ci­ti­zens in the long run,” says Fong.

MBPP is also mak­ing Pe­nang cy­cle-friendly by re­fur­bish­ing the back­lanes and pro­vid­ing bi­cyle lanes on the roads.

“We want to be a bi­cy­cle-friendly state. There are 25 bi­cy­cle sta­tions, and we are work­ing to­wards im­prov­ing the con­nec­tiv­ity in Pe­nang. We want peo­ple to be able to safely cy­cle from one side of the is­land to the other,” said Maimu­nah. “To me, a smart city is not just about soft­ware, sys­tems and ICT. It is a holis­tic ap­proach that ap­plies smart tech­niques to make smart de­ci­sions for the city and its peo­ple.”

Fong be­lieves that it is high time for more city coun­cils and state gov­ern­ments to take the ini­tia­tive to make their city smarter.

“There isn’t a thing as ‘too late’. Smart cities, as they say, is a jour­ney, not a des­ti­na­tion,” says Fong.

“No mat­ter how much im­prove­ments we have made or will make, we still have to con­tin­u­ously look at new in­no­va­tions and ur­ban de­sign prin­ci­ples to meet the needs of an evolv­ing so­ci­ety and city.”


MBPP will add an­other 150 CCTVs to the ex­ist­ing 700 on Pe­nang is­land to mon­i­tor the safety of its peo­ple. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

En­force­ment of­fi­cers from coun­cils that have adopted the Flex­iPark­ing app only need a smart­phone to check if a mo­torist has paid for park­ing. — Sepang Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil

eDrive app al­lows users to view im­ages from 40 sta­tion­ary cam­eras in­stalled on ma­jor roads in Kuala Lumpur. — P. NATHAN/The Star

Vis­i­tors to the PJ Smart Waste So­lu­tion Lab in SS2, Pe­tal­ing Jaya, check­ing out liq­uid fer­tilis­ers and or­ganic plants. The liq­uid fer­tiliser is pro­duced from or­ganic waste com­post at the lab. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

MBPP has taken the ini­tia­tive to make Pe­nang cy­cle-friendly by re­fur­bish­ing the back­lanes and pro­vid­ing bi­cyle lanes on the roads. — CHAN BOON KAI/ The Star

Me­laka was the first state to de­ploy elec­tric buses for the pub­lic in 2015 to im­prove air qual­ity by re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions. — A. MALEX YAHYA/The Star

The Me­laka Govern­ment is push­ing for the Me­laka Road Light­ing Pro­ject which will in­stall 100,000 en­ergy-ef­fi­cient LED road lamps in the state. — A. MALEX YAHYA/The Star

Mo­torists in Se­lan­gor can now ex­tend the du­ra­tion for park­ing from any­where as long as they have the Flex­iPark­ing app on their smart­phones. — NORAFIFI EHSAN/The Star

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