Deep Dive Discussions

Deep Dive Discussions 3.2 on Smart Cities

Harnessing 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) For Sustainable Emerging Smart Cities

Day 2 – Wednesday, 16 October 2019
15:30 - 17:00
Ballroom 2
Mr Teng Leng Lim
Centre for Liveable Cities
Deputy Director
Nora Steurer
Mrs J. Indra A/P C. Jeyarajah
Policy and Inspectorate Division, Ministry of Housing and Local Government
Deputy Undersecretary
Dr. Raslan Ahmad
Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology
Senior Vice President
Dr. Miseon Park
Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements
Housing Research Center
Mr. Hirotaka Koike
The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
Policy Researcher
Ms Somsook Boonyabancha
Smt. Archana Mittal
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Director (Smart Cities)
Mr. Omar Siddique
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
Ms. Liu Xiaoliu
Vice Mayor
Lead Organization
Urbanice Malaysia
Partner Organizer(s)
  1. Malaysia Ministry of Housing and Local Government
  4. Singapore Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC)
Lead Organizer(s)

Dr. Azmizam Abdul Rashid, Director of Knowledge Management and Advisory, Urbanice Malaysia

Ms. Pei En Tan, Manager, Centre for Liveable Cities


Urbanisation is a major challenge for Asia Pacific, and cities are adopting smart solutions to balance economic growth with sustainability. Asia and the Pacific’s phenomenal development has been a story of rapid urbanization. As centres of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity, cities have drawn talent from across our region and driven economic growth which has transformed our societies. New technologies hold great promise for more effective urban solutions. From smart grids and district energy solutions, or real-time traffic management, to waste management and water systems, smart technologies will enable our future cities to operate more effectively. There is an opportunity to incorporate universal design standards and systems such as automated access to audio-based communications to improve accessibility to cities for persons with disabilities. Smart city developers should be encouraged to use standards which would give persons with diverse disabilities full access to the physical infrastructure and information others enjoy.

As we look to overcome all these challenges, the ASEAN Smart Cities Network(ASCN), designed to mobilise smart solutions throughout South-East Asia, is a welcome development on which we must build. Sustainability and environmental impact measures play an increasingly important role in investment and corporate strategies, but also in measuring the success of smart cities. This is especially important to cities in the Asia Pacific region, many of which are grappling with the effects of overcrowding. These cities need solutions to pressing everyday issues, from real-time traffic control to waste management and water systems.

Industrialization has led to many of the world’s current environmental problems. For example, climate change, unsafe levels of air pollution, the depletion of fishing stocks, toxins in rivers and soils, over owing levels of waste on land and in the ocean, loss of biodiversity and deforestation can all be traced to industrialization. As the 4iR gather space, innovations are becoming faster, more efficient and more widely accessible than before. Technology is also becoming increasingly connected; in particular, we are seeing a merging of digital, physical and biological realms. New technologies are enabling societal shifts by having an effect on economics, values, identities and possibilities for future generations.

By 2050, over 70% of the world population will be living in cities covering less than 2%of the earth’s surface and many issues like rising inequality, environmental pollution, infrastructure access, traffic congestion, mobility, safety and health of residents are only a few examples. Cities account for 85% of global GDP generation and are also huge collectors of materials and nutrients, accounting for 75% of natural resource consumption, half of global waste production, and the large majority of greenhouse gas emissions. Smart City utilises technologies and connected data sensors to enhance and become powerful in terms of infrastructure and city operations. This includes monitoring and managing of public assets, transportation systems, citizens, power plants, water supplies, information systems, civil bodies, and other community services.


4iR helps to address this challenge through the invention of new products and services, including innovative methods in tackling today’s most pressing issues such as climate change, pollution, energy demand, and urbanisation. According to UnitedNations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), despite the countless opportunities for smarter cities through 4iR technologies, the goal should always be to improve the quality of life, rather than implement a purely technologically driven process. The SDGs, have set out a shared global agenda for human development based on prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. 4iR shared potential linkages to SDGs such as:

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

The use of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector, which includes image recognition, data collection and analysis, and space technology applications, has strengthened the information on which farmers and government officials base their decisions. On data collection and analysis, devices on the Internet of things that make use of data generated by meteorological satellites have improved the accuracy of weather forecasts, and brought precision agriculture whereby the collection and processing of data in real time has helped researchers and policy officials guide farmers’ decisions on planting and harvesting, irrigation, fertilization and pesticide application.

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Today, big data applications extend to providing diagnosis that is increasingly accurate and timely – a crucial survival determinant – of a wide range of diseases, whether cancers, infectious diseases, or ischaemia and a range of other cardiovascular disorders. New capabilities also include the use of machine learning models that accurately analyse medical images and can fill in for expensive medical expertise. Advanced technology can help alleviate the persistent lack of highly trained medical professionals and researchers, especially in remote rural areas of developing countries. Artificial intelligence applications have also helped expand general health services to rural areas, especially in women’s health.

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Emerging technologies have facilitated the quest to provide access to clean water and sanitation in less developed countries. The use of sensors and smart water meters are helping to remotely monitor water quality and quantity. Using multispectral remote-sensing techniques, space applications have also helped map the changes in surface water and support programmes for integrated water management. Water and snow tend to be easily detected.Several countries already regularly monitor the expansion or shrinkage of water bodies during the agricultural growing season as an indication of possible water hotspots where emergency reserves may be needed.

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Reliable access to electricity is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Faced with an increasing demand for renewable energy, countries in the region may benefit from artificial intelligence in hybrid energy system optimization. The introduction of artificial intelligence into power grids allows for data collection that can help both consumers and producers better understand the dynamics of electricity use, allowing for greater storage as well as transmission capacities. By optimizing the quantity of energy consumed, cost reductions and environmental benefits can be achieved for win-win outcomes.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Perhaps the most significant foreseeable negative short-term impact of artificial intelligence and automation will be felt by the labour market. In the long run, however, artificial intelligence and related technologies are expected to complement labour while raising output and productivity. At the same time, positive developments are also anticipated. A new blend of machine human interactions, in a much more automated and therefore intelligent way, will see the emergence of a whole new set of education, knowledge and skills requirements. Interestingly, these robotics-intensive sectors also tend to have a higher proportion of production line workers, and these workers earn higher wages than those in sectors that are less robotics-intensive.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Emerging technologies such as cloud computing that are already widely adapted by developed countries and enterprises may be the most reliable for storing data in disaster-prone areas. Researchers have also suggested the use of cloud computing infrastructure for detecting environmental disasters early and monitoring environmental conditions. Similarly, the Internet of things linked up with space data has been used to enhance the region’s resilience to disasters, particularly through real-time monitoring of hazards and risk assessment. Methods based on artificial intelligence, such as neural networks, have been successfully applied to regional flood frequency analysis, which is critical for the design, planning and operation of infrastructure projects such as bridges and dams.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Artificial intelligence and related technologies have been found to be effective in reducing chronic traffic congestion in megacities through the introduction of live sensors and analysis of traffic data for optimizing traffic signals. In addition, artificial intelligence can also be used in combination with geospatial and crowdsourced information for much more accurate information on settlements, both formal and informal, and general services including the condition of infrastructure networks.

Goal 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns

Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty

Goal 13: Climate Action

Immediate action is required for climate change adaptation, and emerging technologies have the capability to advance the Paris Agreement agenda. The Goal and the action needed are significant, and beyond the scope of the present document; here, the focus is on the intersection of scientific data and satellite information, and the opportunities that it offers to identify various air pollutants, such as nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, carbon monoxide and some volatile organic compounds. Some work on determining particulate matter has been undertaken based on aerosol optical depth data, which refers to the degree to which aerosols prevent the transmission of light through a vertical column of atmosphere.

Goal 14: Life Below Water

To ensure the sustainability of life below water, machine learning can be used to simultaneously process various data sources, such as climate and marine data and the movement of fishing vessels, and provide recommendations to protect marine ecosystems. Various technologies related to artificial intelligence have been developed in marine resource management in the region. Phytoplankton, an important source of fish food, can be monitored from space with ocean colour instruments that detect chlorophyll in marine environments, an important indicator of phytoplankton levels and productivity. More recently developed Earth observation sensors are also able to monitor more rapid events such as algal blooms and pollution in the form of suspended particles, oil spills and other dissolved particles.

Goal 15: Life on Land

Space applications have great potential to support programmes to halt land degradation and deforestation, and support reforestation and restoration of ecosystem services. Optical imagers are generally used for vegetation, agricultural and forestry purposes, and can help with the early detection of forest degradation and deforestation. They have also been used for tracking wildlife corridors and mapping conservation areas – though they have limitations in being able to detect wildlife in open areas only and require more detailed information to identify the types of animals – and could be supported by on-the-ground monitoring systems.


The 4iR is set to erupt in cities throughout the world. Bits are meeting bricks as the internet enters the spaces we live in, becoming the Internet of Things. The results will impact most aspects of our lives, raising questions of urgent concern. The 4iR illustrate how data can be used to improve the experience of the built environment – whether by public entities, large corporations, start-ups, or private citizens. Using data, we can better understand the digital world in ways that enable us to transform physical space. We can develop solutions to tackle some of the most pressing issues – from energy to waste, from water to mobility, from urban design to citizen participation. The 4iR can classified into five themes: people, governance, infrastructure, economy and environment which impact on cities such as:


Today, new technologies are giving citizens more opportunities to have a say in the functioning of their communities. They are opening up a space – in the convergence of the physical and the digital The data stories collected in this chapter are linked by their interest in provoking behavioural change, whether people-to-people or government-to people. Unlike the broad, sweeping projects of the past, digital changes can happen without heavy infrastructure. They are not necessarily determined by


The 4iR will change how we produce and consume, and its impact on city life will be dramatic – from new forms of manufacturing to artificial intelligence and the sharing economy. Digitally controlled machines, 3D printers, opensource software and new sharing devices allow almost everyone to draw and give shape to their own products, ideas, houses, or working spaces, often using data to personalize their experience of the built environment. As they strive to attract foreign and direct investment, talent, skilled labour and start-ups in the era of the 4iR, cities must remodel their economies to become attractive.


The deluge of data available and the increasing complexity of today’s urban issues compel us to develop more open and inclusive models for governance. Governments can play a fundamental role in fostering innovation – from supporting academic research to promoting applications in unglamorous but crucial fields that might be less appealing to private capital, such as municipal waste or water services. They can also promote the use of open platforms and standards in such projects, which would speed up adoption in cities worldwide. Local authorities need to establish synergy with the various actors that can make a city smart, such as businesses, research centres, associations and private individuals, including youngsters.


Urban population growth is not a new phenomenon. Urban population of the world is increasing at a rate of a quarter of a million people per day – “think of it as a new London every month”. Not only do we need to create new urban fabric to cope with this growth, we also need to make better use of existing infrastructural assets to ensure that our increasingly large metropolises are sustainable. Smart technologies can help. These “data stories” show how we can apply the Internet of Things paradigm to available resources and old cities, buildings and infrastructure without many engineering obstacles.


Cities occupy 2% of the world’s surface; more than 50% of the world population lives in them; they consume 75% of global energy supply; and are responsible for 80% of carbon dioxide emissions. By making cities just a little more sustainable – more green, able to consume less energy or natural resources – we can have a major positive impact on the planet, as these data stories show. People must have the dual possibility of gaining access to the delights of the city, with its solidarity of thought and interest, its opportunities for study and art education, and, at the same time, the freedom that is nourished by nature and is realized through the varieties of its open horizons.


With its ubiquitous and inclusive presence in the modern era of the manufacturing process, 4iR is the linchpin to the industrial revolution which focuses more on symmetric parallelization of work, process, environment, and people. The world is enjoying the benefit of decreased manual labour, higher production and augmented precision through the early stage 4iR tools such as advanced cybernetics,

Key Words

Sustainable Development Goals, The 4th Industrial Revolution (4iR, Smart cities, technologies, big data, internet, mobility, transportation, built environment, disruptors, safety, accessibility, environment sustainability

Objectives of the Session

The objective of this deep dive discussion is to discuss and understand what are the key success and failure factors of smart sustainable cities. The 4th IndustrialRevolution (4iR) and new technologies hold great promise for more effective urban solutions and innovations. Cities need to rethink how to change existing structures to fully grasp the potential provided by information and communication technology (ICT).This involves new urban planning and design in combination with ground breaking policy development and strategies. This development is of utmost importance for cities to become more efficient, attractive, sustainable, and vibrant. It will also discuss how smart cities can be a useful paradigm and tool to implement the New Urban Agenda(NUA) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The discussions aim to achieve the following:

  • To encourage smart city developers and policy maker to share their knowledge and experience in developing sustainable smart cities and their ability to promote sustainable and inclusive urban development;
  • To investigate concepts and principles of smart city and sustainable urban development, components and urban planners' role;
  • To understanding of the challenges faced by local governments to implement urban data and technology projects in the city and the solutions they can or have employed to overcome these challenges;
  • To learn about the advantages of collaborative partnerships with industry and with citizens would be the main focus; and5. To understanding of case studies where cities have successfully planned, financed and managed the implementation of urban data and technology projects for citizens, with clear results of their benefits for the people.
Introduction of the Topic

The Deep Dive Discussion 3.2 is a featured programme of the APUF-7 is to provide interactive platform for government sector, private sector and community for better understand on essential digital infrastructure and solutions to transform their cities into city of the future. This is also an unparalleled platform to source of vendors and consultancy that helps to strategies their transformation plans.

The Deep Dive Discussion 3.2 is designed to provide a platform to discuss on frameworks and strategies that highlighting and measuring 4iR, smart city and urban planning interrelation and identifies the meeting points among them. This will be an integrated platform for the technology and application experts, data and analysis experts, communications and connectivity experts, services and integration experts, even business and financial experts to connect with the city leaders to explore and align goals, objectives and business model as part of the 4iR and implementation ofSDGs ecosystem reliance.

The NUA references the role and potential of ICT to advance the goals of and address the challenges posed by urbanization, presenting new opportunities for making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable as stated in para 66 of NUA :“We commit to adopt a smart city approach, which makes use of opportunities from digitalization, clean energy and technologies, as well as innovative transport technologies, thus providing options for inhabitants to make more environmentally friendly choices and [Type here]3boost sustainable economic growth and enabling cities to improve their service delivery”

Guiding Questions
  1. How we respond to this pressure, how we manage our urban centres and planfor their future expansion in Asia and the Pacific, is likely to decide whether recentdevelopment gains can be made sustainable?
  2. How the 4iR is changing environmental sustainability in emerging cities, shininga light on existing and future opportunities for these cities to harness innovationfor sustainable outcomes?
  3. How the concept of smart cities can be a potential to address aspects of thesustainability challenge by promoting citizen participation, developing innovativeand smart solutions for sustainability, increasing efficiency in city systems, andadopting a transparent and inclusive governance system?
  4. Which use information technology to improve both the quality of life andaccessibility for their inhabitants, i.e. applying sustainable development ineconomic, social, and environmental areas?
  5. How many of us are benefitting from smart city innovations designed to makeour lives more connected, efficient and sustainable?
  6. How this discussion can contribute to the potential for the smart city concept tostand as a solution for sustainability in our increasingly urbanized world?

Save the date!
Join us at the seventh session of the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF7) in Penang, Malaysia from 15 to 17 October 2019