Malaysia saw a refresh of its smart city aspirations with the Smart City Outlook 2021/22 (MSCO) report, soft-launched after the technological partnership think tank Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT)’s 26th AGM virtually held on 29 June 2021.
Themed Embracing Technology Towards Enhancing Smart Cities & Communities, the report, which is produced by thought leader network solutions provider Confexhub together with MIGHT, addresses the progress of the nation’s smart city aims within a global arena and comprises new recommendations while urging more urban planning committees to participate in the many inherent economic opportunities.
Before the segue to the soft launch, MIGHT’s AGM revisited its activities during 2020.
Dr Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, President and CEO of MIGHT, detailed some of the think tank’s activities during the past year. Paying tribute to the collaborative spirit of MIGHT’s member organisations across private, public, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and academia sectors, Dr Yusoff said, “The success of others is MIGHT’s success.”
“The impact of the pandemic is huge both in the global and local scenarios, and it has created a mighty stride forward in digitalisation in all aspects of life. Artificial intelligence (AI), big data, Internet of Things (IoT) are all becoming even more vital frontiers.”
Twelfth (12th) Malaysia Plan is the longer form with various incentive programmes to meet current crises, he explained. The latest moves engender accelerated focus on digitalisation to soften and head off the economic impact from Covid-19 related lockdown measures in the country since March 2020.
Revitalise, grow, renew
MIGHT continues to provide strategic advice to the government and serving more than 10 government ministries and related bodies, he said. “We are continuing to help SMEs across all industries to survive and even prosper during these challenging times. We need to also keep the focus on moving Malaysia to the point in 2030 and become more aligned to developed countries.”
Moving forward, he foresees increased focus areas for the next normal, which include “mobility, aerospace, rail, shipbuilding, 4IR, sustainable development, and so forth.”
“Capabilities, connectedness and competitive are the three (3) key items we need to prioritise,” he added. “Implementing an AI approach into all our processes, together with a cross-sector partnership approach towards sustainability and inclusivity, will drive forward growth.”
5G as smart city catalyst
Both Tan Sri Tajuddin Ali of MIGHT and Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz, Chairman of Confexhub, detailed some of the advantages of smart city development to Malaysia’s communities.
Impending 5G technology promises much potential to push forward Malaysia’s smart city stakes. Addressing the need for high-speed, reliable connectivity across diverse systems and locations, 5G technology is a major component in building smart communities.
Announced in the same week as the Smart City Outlook report, the government appointed Ericsson as 5G development partner to build an end-to-end development of the network in Malaysia at a total cost of RM11 billion ($2.65 billion), according to a statement by Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) – the government entity overseeing the rollout of MyDigital.
Ericsson’s role includes the core, radio access and transport network, operation and business support systems and managed systems, besides supporting local vendor development and participation, said the statement. “Ericsson has undertaken to arrange financing for the supply, delivery, and management of the entire 5G network,” DNB further said.
Looking beyond 5G’s obvious consumer mobile device speed and connectivity narratives, Malaysia has made interesting collaborative efforts during the past two (2) years to show the wider potential benefits of 5G.
In the vanguard of demonstrating some of 5G’s practical benefits to enterprise and societal sectors, the government, through the regulatory body Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), designed and implemented the 5G Demonstration Project (5GDP) in Langkawi and urban areas on the peninsula with the participation from Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) as well as other industry players.
Examples of large-scale use cases displayed a confluence of technologies demonstrated by real-time projects placed in parts of the island archipelago of Langkawi and which were seamlessly monitored and actioned from the 5G command centre (5GCC) built on an open, sharing model to enable full collaboration into the future.
The use of AI smart cameras, alert buttons, geolocation apps, My Smart City mobile app, smart helmets and other solutions – powered by real-time data analytics – demonstrated multiple use cases spanning smart city, smart tourism, smart traffic, smart agriculture, as well as crime prevention and citizen safety.
5G technology presents another avenue of hyper-connectivity, especially in areas previously difficult to serve. And the future holds capacity building for autonomous vehicles and the ‘next normal’.
According to IDC’s June 2021 report Digital Resiliency: The Role of Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, the application of analytics and AI bolsters digital resiliency. “The COVID-19 crisis emphasises digitalisation’s role in resiliency, but it has an important side effect — never before has data and the analytical insights it generates been so critical to enterprise survival,” says Dr Chris Marshall, Associate Vice President for Data and Analytics at IDC Asia/Pacific.
Welcoming the Smart City Framework and Outlook report as highly insightful, TM ONE, the business solutions arm of TM, in line with many other industry leaders, sees the smart city concept pivot from the ‘nice to have’ to the ‘must implement today’ for Malaysia.
Highlighting the critical role of secure cloud computing through Cloud α (pronounced as Cloud Alpha), TM ONE has also pointed out that the increasing use of multiple apps presents the challenge of data silos.
Establishing smart cities relies on smart data – or in other words – cohesive connections between advanced technologies, a flow of data combined with relevant culture change, and administration processes will help to heighten Malaysia’s sustainable smart city development: a trajectory fit to meet the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution era.
Interestingly, Malaysia’s announcement of its national 4IR policy also in the first week of July provides a complementary framework for smart city aspirations. As envisaged by Malaysia’s Smart City Framework under the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025, of which MyDigital is a component, digital transformation is a vital catalyst to potentise Malaysia’s recovery efforts and enhance the quality and safety life in a rapidly-shifting world.
An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) paper in 2020, released as part of the organisation’s programme on smart cities and inclusive growth, points to the timeliness of leveraging the benefits of smart cities as “particularly critical to help cities and countries manage and rebound from this unprecedented global crisis.” In 2021, Covid-19 related challenges see Malaysia’s public authorities ideally placed to refresh and fast track smart city initiatives with digital technologies to upscale service levels, citizen well-being, and especially important at this time – to forge the space for sustainable economic growth and recovery.