Innovation: Smartest City
Winner: Tokyo (Japan)
Tokyo hit the headlines last year when the Tsukuba Express departed 20 seconds early, prompting abject apologies from its management for the ‘severe inconvenience’. Such a reaction could only come from a city that has created one of the slickest transport systems in the world. Add to this Tokyo’s experiments to create suburban smart towns that produce zero carbon emissions and run completely on renewable energy, integrating a large proportion of homes with solar panels, offering smart parking solutions and Wi-Fi hotspots all over the place, and it’s clear to see why Tokyo is leading the line.
Innovation: Smartest City Shortlist
Beijing has particularly focused its technology on fostering a ‘smart economy’. The city ranks as China’s smartest city in terms of operating as a cashless society, according to a 2017 report by tech giant Tencent. On top of this, entirely new smart cities such as Xiong’an are being developed on the capital’s borders.
In Guangzhou, a focus on ‘intelligent traffic’ has seen the use of internet-connected traffic lights that can analyse road conditions and react accordingly, helping to raise the average speed of traffic in the city, reduce overall congestion and give drivers access to updated information to help them plan their journeys.
Seoul (South Korea)
In addition to the South Korean capital’s integrated transport system and being the hub for the country’s major tech companies, the key to becoming a smart society, according to the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, is ‘communication on a totally different level’. Seoul demonstrates this with everything from fast, widespread internet to donating second-hand smart devices to low-income families.
Host to the international 2018 Smart City Expo, Shanghai has also been targeted as ground zero for a national plan to implement smart infrastructure, smart grid and Internet of Things-related policies.
Shenzhen has never hidden its ambitions to become the Silicon Valley of China. The country’s tech giants – including Tencent and Alibaba – are all headquartered in the former fishing village-turned-startup community. ‘Unicorns’ (businesses valued at more than US$1 billion) such as Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer DJI are just the start for this forward-facing Chinese city.
Singapore’s smart traffic initiatives saw the country become one of the first to adopt shared bicycle schemes in Asia and, so far, is the biggest adopter of e-vehicles (after Paris) with a city-wide electric car-sharing in operation since the end of 2017.
Taipei (Taiwan China)
Renowned for its dominance as an electronics manufacturer in the 1980s and ’90s, Taiwan has seen traditional industries being overtaken by other developing Asian economies. In response, the government has launched a renewed focus to push Taiwan’s ‘smart’ technologies, with dedicated business clusters, major investment and educational-industrial tie ups in the works.