Jakarta city lights at night
Jakarta grows endlessly. When will it be a smart city, though? Photo by Gede Suhendra on Unsplash/NOWJAKARTA

Nothing is impossible! But turning Jakarta into a ‘Smart City’ may be close. This is the challenge that my team have set me as we try to create the best scenarios to move forward to create “Sustainable Solutions for Indonesia” under our MVB banner (see www.mostvaluedbusiness.com) but linking the challenge to our parallel involvement with Jakarta City Local Government through this magazine and all our joint activities, including Say Yes To Less programme.

A Smart City means different things to different people, depending on what aspects of the city we are talking about. In general, “being smart” to a large extent means:

  • Having access to better information to make more informed decisions
  • Empowering the city to improve the life of its citizens through improved delivery of public services
  • Providing solutions to urban growth challenges (of which we have many!)

Noted researchers, Frost and Sullivan, defined a Smart City as one that has an active presence and plan in at least five of these eight criteria and has clearly demonstrated projects in place. These criteria are: Smart Governance, Smart Energy, Smart Buildings, Smart Mobility, Smart Infrastructure, Smart Technology, Smart Healthcare and Smart Citizens

There are a number of variations on what a ‘Smart City’ should be, mostly coined by the Nordic Countries, who have almost all succeeded in turning their capitals and often regional cities as well into Smart Cities. So this is possible, and already demonstrated, where the population is small and well educated, the government is switched on and agile, and the public service and utilities are tech-savvy and innovative. Denmark, with a total country population of 5,8 million and Copenhagen, with a population of 1,3 million are great examples, but so are Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm.

Advancement in emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics opens up tremendous opportunities to create smart solutions and value-added services which were not possible before.

Critical infrastructure also plays an important role in ensuring the quality of life of citizens. A Smart City is as smart as the reliable functioning of its critical infrastructure such as public transportation, but also healthcare, utilities, energy, public safety and emergency services. This is defined as systems, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the city that the incapacity or destruction of such systems would have a debilitating impact on the city’s physical security, economic security, citizens’ health or safety or any combination of those matters.

While Smart City initiatives tend to focus on sustainable developments and harnessing digital technologies for integrated citizen-services delivery, it demands that coordination across agencies has a strong focus on the much needed integrated and dynamic operation centre in order to manage daily operation and to address emergency scenarios, in addition to taking cybersecurity into consideration. I am confident that the private sector is capable, and in some cases, already implementing, “smart solutions” into their buildings, and we will read of some of those in the main story this month, but all their efforts will come to nothing if the infrastructure doesn’t support them, if the mobility isn’t there and there are still floods and power outages which paralyse the city.

It’s back to you, City Government, to make the city smart, we are relying on you, the technology is available, the experience is available, it just needs the willingness to commit.

Alistair Speirs

Alistair Speirs

Alistair has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for 25 years. He started NOW! Magazines as the region’s preferred community magazine.