ORI­GIN OF THE SMART CITY

Bangkok Post - - URBAN LIFE -

>> Tired of wait­ing for cen­tral gov­ern­ment, a com­mu­nity of busi­ness peo­ple in Khon Kaen strug­gled to find their own so­lu­tion. And they came up with the “Khon Kaen Model”. The model is based on Tran­sit-Ori­ented De­vel­op­ment (TOD), which uses mass tran­sit as the back­bone for real es­tate and city de­vel­op­ment. If suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented, Khon Kaen will be the first city in Thai­land, apart from Bangkok, to have its own rail sys­tem.

The back­bone of the Khon Kaen ur­ban de­vel­op­ment plan is the con­struc­tion of a 26-kilo­me­tre light rail tran­sit line to solve traf­fic con­ges­tion and in­crease the value of real es­tate along the line. The plan is to gen­er­ate suf­fi­cient in­come and wealth to cover the cost of con­struct­ing and main­tain­ing the rail sys­tem. How­ever, the goals of the Khon Kaen peo­ple are not only to solve traf­fic prob­lems and de­velop real es­tate, but also to make their city more live­able and their econ­omy more pros­per­ous.

The Khon Kaen busi­ness com­mu­nity also has an am­bi­tion to mas­ter rail tech­nolo­gies so that they can de­velop more tran­sit lines in the fu­ture and even sell such tran­sit projects to other ci­ties. Thus, they chose to de­velop their sys­tem us­ing trams, which is an open sys­tem, rather than those used in all Bangkok mass-tran­sit sys­tems. Such closed-sys­tems ne­ces­si­tate re­ly­ing on for­eign tech­nolo­gies in­def­i­nitely.

Fully aware that Khon Kaen is not a tourist city, the lo­cal busi­ness­men made an ef­fort to po­si­tion the city as a re­gional hub for meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ences and ex­hi­bi­tions (Mice), with a pro­posal to con­struct an in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion cen­tre. They also plan to es­tab­lish an in­land con­tainer de­pot (ICD) to cut stor­age and trans­porta­tion costs for the goods of small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises. All of this will be ex­e­cuted and funded by the pri­vate sec­tor.

The Khon Kaen Model sets an ex­am­ple of par­tic­i­pa­tory de­vel­op­ment in which many sec­tors take part in the process. It all be­gan when 20 lo­cal ty­coons, who have known one an­other well since their school days, each in­vested 10 mil­lion baht to es­tab­lish the Khon Kaen Think Tank (KKTT) Group in Jan­uary 2015. The com­pany was set up to be a ve­hi­cle to col­lab­o­rate with Khon Kaen Univer­sity to de­velop strate­gies for ur­ban de­vel­op­ment. With as­sis­tance from the KKTT, five mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties along the tram line have also founded their own com­pany, the Khon Kaen Tran­sit Sys­tem Co (KKTS), to im­ple­ment the model. Ex­cerpt from the com­men­tary by Somkiat Tangk­it­vanich, PhD, pres­i­dent of Thai­land De­vel­op­ment Re­search In­sti­tute (TDRI). Pub­lished De­cem­ber 2017, in Bangkok Post.

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