From the desk of Shawn Tan, CEO, Skymind

CITIES are like beacons of hope: positioned as focal points for business and investment opportunities, offering the promise of  prosperity, greater access to quality education and a high standard of modern living to their populace.

Between now and 2025,  McKinsey estimates that the world’s top 100 cities will account for 35% of global GDP growth. By 2050, 68% of the global population is estimated to be residing in cities.

Faced with volatile economic landscapes and unprecedented global disasters like the current Covid-19 pandemic, cities across the globe must change and evolve to be more competitive, productive and smart.

Countries around the world like the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia have already kicked off initiatives taking place in the Smart City race. Efforts include smart traffic control, safety management, waste management and online education and research initiatives.

With rising populations and increasing migration, cities will need to better manage and strategize use of resources to create safe, efficient and sustainable living and working environments, build resilient societies and economies, and be attractive to investments to create career and business opportunities.

The implementation of so-called smart systems and automation have often been seen as a solution but are no longer adequate to the creation of smart cities. Innovation is key to create “intelligent” cities that are truly sustainable and able to generate impactful values.

Technology is a facilitator, an enabler, a means to an end. What is truly important currently is to define the pathways to generate impactful values for a city made ‘fit to prosper intelligently’ into the digital era.

The development of intelligent cities is multi-layered and multidisciplinary. Industry 4.0 (4IR) technologies like Artificial intelligence (AI) is key for data insight and optimisation to develop new innovations and technology-related ideas to power more robust infrastructures and elevate public services to new levels and create greater economic impact.

Via impactful data analytics and AI-driven initiatives, true smart cities can grow and multiply to become smart regions and ultimately create a smart nation – moving from  high economy cities inhabited by high income talents and their families that are able to contribute to higher gross development value (GDV) to the aspired goal of a high income nation.

To help achieve this vision, partnerships are essential to enable countries to transform themselves into a ‘Smart Nation’. So too is technological sovereignty. 

In most Smart City / Smart Nation initiatives, the technology is mostly owned, deployed and operated by foreign companies. And sending data to AI applications hosted mostly overseas on the cloud could potentially create a security breach and violate a country’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

Organisations in a smart city can only truly thrive if they are not trapped in a technology lock-in, have control over their intellectual property, are not plagued by data breach and business continuity issues as well as faced with a talent deficit in their AI-driven endeavour.

Skymind, armed with our global presence and connections as well as experience, is on a mission to bring partners together to build an ecosystem to realise the true value proposition of smart cities here in Malaysia.

Skymind believes future cities must have full ownership of their tech or  AI models and solutions to ensure technology sovereignty and avoid data breach and business continuity issues. And this is done through open sourcing our technology, having on-premise and edge solutions. 

We believe in helping prepare AI-ready talents to drive and sustain the development of smart cities in the country.

Adopting the right approach to revolutionise our cities at this opportune time will help propel Malaysia to be in the forefront of the digital economy.

This World Cities Day, themed Valuing Our Communities and Cities, a long hard look at what a Smart City means is crucial. It will be underpinning how our cities move forward and realise the aspiration of transforming Malaysia into a Smart Nation.

To know more about Skymind Future Cities, go to www.skymind.global