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Dentsu Aegis Network and MIT take a close look at Asia Pacific’s smart cities

A new white paper consolidates extensive in-market research and nearly two-dozen in-depth interviews with key industry players from different countries

Dentsu Aegis Network has launched a new white paper examining the progress of Asia Pacific’s smart cities, including local deep-dives into eight key markets in the region. In its third year, this series on Asia Pacific’s digital disruption aims to deliver thought leadership to arm Dentsu Aegis Network and its agency brands’ clients and partners with the insight they need to succeed in the digital economy.

This year, in collaboration with MIT Technology Review, the report argues that increasingly, smart city initiatives in Asia Pacific are being developed and driven to improve quality of life for the region’s citizens and consumers, to manage cities’ growth sustainably, and to maintain their global competitiveness.

The paper, titled "Connectivity and QoL : How digital consumer habits and ubiquitous technology are driving smart city development in Asia Pacific”, consolidates extensive in-market research and nearly two-dozen in-depth interviews with key industry players from India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Nick Waters, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, said, "Asia Pacific has enjoyed robust economic expansion in recent years, with cities at the heart of this growth. With development comes challenges, but cities in the region are transforming these challenges into opportunities with the help of technology and innovation. Smart cities in Asia Pacific are quickly becoming pilot markets for the digital economy.”

"The white paper helps us understand what drives the development of smart cities in Asia Pacific, how businesses can leverage them to develop digital economy solutions and how we can contribute to make these cities more viable, liveable and sustainable," Waters added.

The report found two key factors that distinguish Asia Pacific’s smart city efforts from other regions around the globe. Governments and businesses are more willing to invest in experimental models that exploit new technologies, business models and urban planning design. For example, the development of new, ‘greenfield’ smart cities from scratch such as South Korea’s Songdo International Business District, Japan’s Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, Hong Kong’s Smart City @ Kowloon East, and others.

Asia Pacific also has a unique approach in its efforts to engage private sector players in developing smart cities. More collaborations have emerged between the government and the region’s leading technology firms – China’s Alibaba, India’s Reliance Communications, Japan’s Panasonic, and others – to deliver smart city projects.

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau, CEO and Publisher, MIT Technology Review, explained, "While no two Asia Pacific markets have the exact same mix of smart city strategies or assets, we have found that nearly all such projects attempt to use smart cities to serve two goals simultaneously: address immediate infrastructure or service delivery challenges while ‘future-proofing’ their economies against threats looming on the horizon. The region’s most innovative smart city efforts also open themselves up to collaboration with the private sector to not only address these issues but to create exportable technologies and applications.”

Arvind Sethumadhavan, Chief Innovation Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, said, “The big opportunity for businesses is the delivery of new and enhanced services. Smart Cities are empowering Asian consumers to boot as the ‘fabric of the data surrounding them at all times’ makes them aware of the things they need without even searching. New business models can be rapidly developed and tested which sit at the intersection of online and offline worlds. The fabric of available new data will herald the onset of pervasive personalisation of marketing messages.”

The paper also outlines six common themes of Asia Pacific’s successful smart city initiatives, including: leveraging cloud technology; creating ‘open’ and accessible ecosystems, and through this harnessing the power of start-up ecosystems; consumer-driven application development; mixing ‘greenfield’ and ‘brownfield’ smart city experiments; IoT and sensor-based platforms; and cashless economies.

Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, added, “India is currently moving towards massive urbanisation. Consequently, its need for building smart cities is far more immediate when compared to many other countries. Home to one of the most populated and diverse demography in the world, India witnesses the migration of 20-30 people every minute from rural regions to urban cities. Yes, India is a complex country and, therefore, its infrastructural challenges are huge but so are the opportunities. We have a large consumer base, we are well-connected and mobile-enabled. And these elements will act as huge enablers to create our smart cities and introduce economic transformation.”

Click here to access the full white paper.

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