To tackle growing congestion issues due to increasing populations, many Asian cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Manila, have begun morphing into ‘smart cities’.
A ‘smart city’ integrates Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, multiple information and communication technology, sensors and, increasingly, apps to manage a city’s assets and improve the quality of life for residents.
This has provided a vast market for smart city apps that are on-demand and utilize live data, as well as being cheap and easy to use. It’s a market that is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years. Here, we take a look at five of the best and most used smart-city apps in Asia.
Used in congestion-ridden cities such as Manila and Jakarta, the Waze app is a GPS-based geographical navigation app that provides up to date information and user-submitted travel times and route details to help a driver find the quickest route to their chosen destination, avoiding hazards and traffic along the way.
Uniquely, users can report traffic jams, accidents and speed cameras, and with the online map editor can update roads, landmarks and house numbers if necessary.
In 2011, the Israel-based company raised US$30 million to expand into Asia and now has over 50 million users worldwide, with Malaysia and Indonesia being in the list of top 10 user countries globally.
Last year the Singapore government launched Beeline, a mobile app that allows commuters to pre-book rides on express private bus routes and suggest new routes they would like to travel on. The app crowd-sources this information and then allows commuters to hop on the bus going where they want and tells the commuter when the bus will be arriving.
The Government-initiated trial started with just four routes and four buses in August last year, but has since been scaled up to 21 routes and 11 buses.
Users have reported that although Beeline can be more expensive than regular bus tickets, it has actually halved commuter times.
The Philippines can be a hotbed of typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. For this reason, the National Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) app was launched by the Philippines government to increase the country’s disaster mitigation systems.
The app acquires data from rainfall and water sensors, imaging technologies, and landslide assessment systems and makes them available to the public through a web and mobile app for both iOS and Android. Citizens can use this decide whether to move to higher ground and local governments can more quickly and efficiently make assessments of oncoming storms and plan accordingly.
Touted as one of the fastest growing startups in Indonesia, Go-Jek is an app that legitimizes previously informal motorcycle taxis – also known as ojeks in Indonesian – that provide courier, transport and shopping services. Drivers are kitted out in an easily identifiable green uniform, and rides are organized and booked through the app.
Over time, Go-Jek’s founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim has added many strings to the apps bow: users can now get food deliveries with the Go-Food app and personal shopping services with the Go-Mart app, among many other services. Last year the company said it had 30,000 drivers in Jakarta.
Zoomcar is the first company in India to focus on self-drive car rental, as opposed to other startups in India offering chauffeur-driven cars.
Through the app, customers can hire cars for an hour or for the entire day. As reported in the The Times of India, Zoomcar currently has 2,000 cars in seven cities and in August Ford Motor Company led a $24-million funding round in the company bringing its total capital investment up to $46 million.