Efficient transpo critical to becoming a smart city, says tech exec

By Espie Angelica A. de Leon

An efficient, well-designed, future-proof transportation system is critical for a city to be considered a smart city.

Photo credit: worldsmartcity.org

Photo credit: worldsmartcity.org

Stefen Endler, Siemens senior vice president for strategy and business excellence for Southeast Asia, made this statement at the recently held CommunicAsia 2017 Summit in Singapore.

Speaking at the panel discussion on “Moving Toward a Sustainable Holistic Vision: What it Takes to Make a Smart City”, Endler underscored the basic importance of transportation as one of the things a city has to deliver.

“If [it] fails, business will suffer. The city suffers,” said Endler, adding that time spent in traffic would have otherwise been spent in important business meetings.

However, using a technology is not enough, he said. This should be combined with wise planning.

Citing Singapore’s MRT Downtown Line with 18 operational stations between Chinatown and Bukit Panjang as an example, Endler noted that Downtown Line stations are much shorter than the older MRT lines in the country.

“But the trains run much more, they come every one minute because there is a train automation system behind to make sure the trains can run on shorter intervals.”
According to him, such transport system requires less tunnels to be dug, smaller stations to be built, and yet it has the same passenger capacity, thus leading to significant savings in investment.

Speaking at different forums, ST Microelectronics senior technical marketing manager Vishal Goyal and TM Forum vice-president for strategic programs Carl Piva agreed with Endler that an efficient infrastructure for transportation is one of the key elements of a smart city.

“Thirty percent of inner city traffic congestion is the result of drivers searching for somewhere to park,” said Goyal. Smart parking, he said, allows drivers to find parking faster and enables cities to better manage their parking spaces.

Craig Price, senior vice-president for international projects-HKT Global Development Services at PCCW Global added that if a city wants to focus on transport, city officials need to look at the data as well.

The panelists and speakers named the other features of a smart city, namely, good plans which put people at the center, good policies, Smart Grid, intelligent and adaptive street lighting, use of data, smart homes, good leadership, among others.

It is also important that the “city must connect its ecosystems and break down old barriers between agencies,” said Piva.

Hongkong, Singapore, Helsinki, Incheon, Reykjavik, Xinjiang, Nanjing, Tokyo, and Seoul were cited in the discussions as among the world’s smart cities.

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