Huawei recently hosted a roundtable with various stakeholders, consultants and experts to discuss what can be done to expedite the development of smart cities. One key conclusion: get the private sector involved.
Roundtable participant Richard Raj Sebastian – principal consultant for digital transformation at Frost & Sullivan who also specializes in smart city advisory across Asia Pacific – says that privatization was a recurring point in the discussion. While most smart city initiatives in Asia-Pacific are naturally government-driven, the private sector is also taking the lead, such as developers embedding smart-city technologies into in their projects.
We’re likely to see more of this in the years ahead, says Sebastian, whether it’s in the form of a PPP model or private companies acting on their own – which if nothing else could accelerate smart city initiatives in terms of funding.
Another challenge for smart city projects is where to start. Roundtable participants agreed that the answer will of course vary from city to city – Tokyo has different problems to solve than Bangkok, for example, and Bangkok has different issues than Dhaka. Sebastian says it all starts with identifying the core problems citizens face – whether it’s traffic congestion or clean water – and then look at how smart city technologies can address those problems.
In this interview with Disruptive.Asia managing editor Tony Poulos, Sebastian reviews the roundtable highlights, the growing role of private enterprises in smart cities, and the importance of good data management and privacy in a smart-city deployment.