Johor's smart city will focus on the economy, the environment and social stability.

Johor’s smart city will focus on the economy, the environment and social stability.

Malaysia lays out plans for next state-level smart city project

As highly-integrated urban spaces, smart cities will be key to supporting tomorrow’s businesses, as digital becomes less an initiative, and more part of their DNA.

Underpinning these urban landscapes will be the core concepts of sustainability and efficiency. Data collected through sensors will feedback information enabling analytics programs to optimize transport and energy systems.

While the vision painted by smart cities can seem like a utopian dream, the reality is, in Asia, they are already becoming a reality — Malaysia, for one, has recently revealed the groundwork for its next smart city project in Johor.

For Johor’s Head of State Government, Sahruddin Jamal, the smart city concept is not just a ‘nice to have,’ the integration of technology in public spaces will actually be key in improving public safety and quality of life.

To that end, the city will be developing its use of Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, big data, advanced analytics, autonomous vehicles, and 5G technology. This, of course, sounds like an ambitious undertaking — and it will take a while before this technology is ready for deployment. However, Jamal says these technologies combined will enable a move towards smart waste management, dynamic public transport systems, efficient water treatment cycles, energy-efficient buildings as well as cashless communities.

The project laid out for Johor is in line with the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025, which focuses on economic empowerment, environmental sustainability, and social re-engineering. In achieving those key areas, the development will entail the dimensions of smart governance, smart economy, smart environment, smart mobility, smart people and smart life.

One of the most important players in the development process is the Iskandar Malaysia Comprehensive Development Plan. Jamal, in a speech presented at a recent event, said, “Given that there are many students in Iskandar Malaysia, we also need to look at the definition of Smart City from this point of view as our way of thinking and implementation to achieve Iskandar Malaysia’s vision in 2025.”

Malaysia’s Johor is not the only state that is pursuing smart city development projects. Previously, two other states, Sabah and Sarawak, have been promoting consistent smart city efforts by improving their public services and management systems using digital solutions.

It is expected that more urban areas in the country will emerge, especially with the rollout of 5G. Businesses that are looking to expand and grow their operations should keep Johor’s smart city as well those in Sabah and Sarawak in mind.

This is because these smart cities can extensively stimulate economic growth and provide the necessary infrastructural support for the deployment of advanced, intelligent and connected digital solutions.