A SMART SOLUTION

Malaysia 2017 | IT & INNOVATION | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangua, Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation (MOSTI), on changing the outlook of private business, reducing poverty, and smart cities.

Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangua
BIOGRAPHY
Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangau was born in Sabah, and graduated with a degree in forestry science from Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. In 1985, he obtained a certificate in forest plantation management and forestry research in various institutions in Japan. In 1988, he underwent training in environmental impact assessment at the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development. In 1990, he completed master’s in development management from Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines. He was elected to the Parliament of Malaysia in 1994 and he has held other positions in public services since. In 2015, Datuk Seri Panglima was appointed as the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.

According to World Urbanization Prospects, published by the UN, globally 54% of the world's population was residing residing in urban areas in 2014, and by 2050, 66% of the world's population is projected to be urban. The process of urbanization historically has been associated with other important economic and social transformations. Cities are important drivers of development and poverty reduction in both urban and rural areas, as they concentrate much of the national economic activity, government, commerce, and transportation, and provide crucial links with rural areas, between cities, and across international borders. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. Several decades ago most of the world's largest urban agglomerations were found in the more developed regions, but today's large cities are concentrated in south Asia. There is a dramatic change in terms of demographic structure that brings a broad range of challenges, among them. That requires both the public and private sector to reconsider their policies and approaches. In this context, the concept of a smart city has emerged over recent years to provide citizens with better-quality services and opportunities. It is forecasted that the number of smart cities around the globe will reach 40 by the year 2020, and Asian cities are at the very heart of this phenomena. Smart infrastructure, smart energy, smart mobility, smart buildings, smart grids, and smart materials; smart is the new green. Yet, whereas green products and programs are aimed at environmental aspirations, smart solutions encompass and extend beyond these applications. Smart solutions are strongly based on use of information and technology. Smart solutions are seen as an opportunity to allow economies like Malaysia to benefit from such reforms. The path to these cities is always challenging and complicated. We should also take into consideration that if smart cities fail, the cost of damage will be none. We need to completely rethink our approach to peculiarities and challenges. We need to think more about long-term survival and less about short-term gain, more about cooperation than about competition, and, most importantly, we need to engage people and communities. That leads us to another question: what do we want a smart city to be? We need to focus on how we shape the technology to reach this.

Meanwhile, 74.5% of Malaysians are currently living in cities and urban areas, and this number is projected to increase to 90% by 2020. Therefore, demand for smart city infrastructure will be essential in the path toward a sustainable future. Moving forward, Malaysia is currently in the stage of shifting from an emerging market to a developed market, and “smart solutions" are seen as the key to growth. This developed market goal is supposed to be reached by 2020. The Malaysian government is proactive and ready to invest in smart initiatives that will push the country forward. The introduction of the Multimedia Super Corridor, a special zone for the development of information and multimedia technology, in 1996, was the first step on the way to smart cities in Malaysia. Recognizing the need to intensify domestic and international networks for research collaboration, strategic partnerships and business relationships, Malaysia established the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC). An overarching goal of GSIAC is to assist Malaysia in the development of a high-tech green economy. One major component of this “green futures" initiative is the smart city and smart village program, which will see the construction of energy-efficient population centers across the country. This will be the first project of this kind in the ASEAN region. Smart City Iskandar Malaysia was endorsed during a meeting of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council. This pilot project aims to provide ease of doing business as well as improve living quality in Iskandar Malaysia. The focus is on three areas, namely economy, environment, and social, promoting six dimensions: smart economy, smart governance, smart environment, smart mobility, smart people, and smart living.