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Smart city trends in the Asia Pacific region

Smart city trends in the Asia Pacific region
APAC is expected to see the highest investment in smart city technology over the next few years. Here is a look some trends and demands in the region.
Asia is one of the fastest growing regions for smart city technologies, with global spending in this sector expected to reach US$158 billion in 2022 — nearly double that of 2018, according to a report from IDC. The Asia Pacific region, including China and Japan, accounted for nearly 42 percent of spending in 2018.

Three use cases dominated global smart cities spending in 2018, IDC noted. These were: fixed visual surveillance, advanced public transit and smart outdoor lighting. By 2022, intelligent traffic management is likely to overtake smart outdoor lighting in the third position. IDC also sees the fastest growing areas in vehicle to everything (V2X) connectivity and officer wearables use cases, albeit starting from a small base in most regions.
Swarup Biswas,
VP of Commercial and Operations,
APAC Service Business,
Johnson Controls

Speaking to a&s, Swarup Biswas, VP of Commercial and Operations for the APAC Service Business of Johnson Controls, pointed out that there were varying requirements in the region. “Differing priorities in smart city use cases in Asia were revealed in Johnson Controls' smart city indicator survey,” Biswas said. “LED street lighting, distributed energy programs, and broadband infrastructure were the top applications across the countries surveyed in Asia — perhaps a reflection of the nascent stage of smart city development in the region.”

Globally, about 22 percent of those surveyed by Johnson Controls indicated that their smart city plans were in the implementation phase, compared to just 15 percent of Asian respondents. Smart city investments in Asia are being driven by economic development, public safety improvements and efforts to reduce costs and increase sustainability. The survey canvassed over 330 city leaders in 20 countries, including over 50 from China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Popular smart city solutions in Asia

Across Asia, the internet of things (IoT), data analytics, and AI/Machine learning are the top three trends to watch for in the next five years, according to Biswas. This is in line with predictions from other industry players like the consultancy Innovation is Everywhere, which estimates that total Asian IoT spending may reach $59 billion by 2020 from $10 billion in 2014. South Korea and Singapore are expected to be among the top five global markets for IoT adoption.

“IoT can be harnessed to improve operational efficiency in a smart city,” Biswas said. “Data is collected directly from tactically deployed sensors or collected as secondary inputs from sensors employed for other purposes. Applying data analytics, the information is freely exchanged within the city network, and multiple disparate systems can be managed with zero delay-time, thus minimizing unintended results. Even the smallest amounts of data, be it the temperature inside a commercial building to the number of cars standing idle at a traffic light, can be used in one way or the other to benefit the citizens.”

A key demand from smart city infrastructure is real-time response for users. Artificial intelligence comes in handy here, enabling buildings to know the user’s intent, and helps to resolve things much faster with less effort. This also helps to reduce costs.

“Substantial savings could be achieved with a combination of IoT technology, advanced sensors, big data analytics, and smart building technologies,” Biswas said. “Some potential savings of up to 18 percent of total building energy consumption have been projected. For instance, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment are all rapidly becoming internet of things [devices] that provide data on the performance of their built environments, allowing building owners to improve their decision-making, driving operating efficiency.”

What other solutions can be implemented?

A long-term view of development is required for better planning of smart cities. For instance, installing basic security cameras on street lights without any fiber connectivity or facial recognition software would limit the potential of the space to be truly smart. Cities need to build high-speed fiber networks  with enough bandwidth to support new IoT devices and applications well into the future. Connectivity and technology are not the end goal for smart cities — they are the means of improving the quality of life for city residents.
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