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The future of cities: Powerhouses of the world

Asia accounts for over half of the world’s megacities. The region faces the challenge of balancing sustained population growth with strained resources. The solution? Integrate technology to make cities smart and sustainable. Notably, China and Singapore are leading the region in smart city initiatives.

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China - a new ‘autopia’

Autonomous driving enables various forms of convenient modes of transport such as on-demand transport and robot taxis. Meanwhile, the implementation of real-time traffic monitoring and routing helps to reduce congestion and air pollution.

Leveraging its leading position in 5G technologies, China is developing smart transportation solutions to manage real-time traffic information, and facilitate data-driven decision-making.

The country has also recently launched the construction of its first 5G smart highway project in Hubei. In the pursuit of cleaner energy for its cities, the government has also created an electric vehicle ecosystem by offering generous subsidies for electric vehicles; and building a comprehensive charging infrastructure in major cities.

Singapore – a smart nation

According to the IMD Smart City Index 2019, Singapore ranks as the smartest city in the world. It achieves high sustainability standards and quality of life for its inhabitants. But the lack of natural resources and small land area leave the young nation vulnerable to food and energy disruption.

To ensure food security, the government looks to innovative solutions as it aims to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030. Singapore’s first vertical farm has been awarded the national standard for successfully growing organic vegetables in urban environments. Without compromising taste and nutritional value, lab-grown meat is explored as a viable protein alternative, as trials are underway to culture cells and grow meat on a large scale.

The city is also exploring the harnessing of clean, renewable energy across industries, where smart charging technologies and data analytics keep power supply reliable, and buildings are designed to be energy-efficient.

Smart city initiatives present smart opportunities

For the next decade, the landscape of smart and sustainable cities in Asia will look vastly different.

The continuous enhancement of cities’ liveability standards will require substantial funds. The Global Infrastructure Hub estimates that annual investments will need to reach USD 4.6 trillion, or 3.3% of the world economy by 2040. Investors will do well to take heed of the potential opportunities that smart city initiatives present - and invest smartly.

Future cities

Over the next 20 years, more than 2 billion people will migrate to cities. With the growing number of urban dwellers come many challenges: congestion, pollution and a shortage of housing and recreation options, to name a few. So how will our transportation infrastructures keep up? Where will everybody live? Will there be enough jobs for everyone? In our ‘Future Cities’ series, we explore what type of innovations are helping cities to become more sustainable – and liveable.

 

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