More smart cities planned in 2018

More smart cities planned in 2018

A digital rendition of Khon Kaen as a smart city, featuring the planned light rail transit project.
A digital rendition of Khon Kaen as a smart city, featuring the planned light rail transit project.

The government plans to raise the number of pilot smart cities from the current three to seven next year, using 300 million baht from the fiscal 2017 budget.

The ultimate goal is to have 100 such cities within two decades to improve the quality of urban life, Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Jungtong said in a speech to Secutech Thailand 2017, which ends today at Bitec.

The smart cities scheme, part of the Thailand 4.0 initiative, includes Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen at present. It will expand to the Eastern Economic Corridor in Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao, plus Bangkok.

To stimulate adoption of smart cities, the government has established the National Smart City Committee, comprising key cabinet ministers and chaired by the deputy prime minister. The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy, Energy Policy and Planning Office and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) will also contribute.

ACM Prajin said the committee will introduce a National Smart City master plan. The panel will also have authority to set up a project management office in each smart city.

Smart cities aim to integrate digital technology, energy and transport to improve quality of life for residents.

Pichet Durongkaveroj, the digital economy and society minister, said the government will use tax incentives and other measures to attract private firms for public-private partnerships in city development.

State agencies, companies and academics will form the Smart City Alliance to develop and deploy smart city standards. The alliance already counts 70 participating groups and can be reached at its Facebook page, Smart City Alliance Thailand.

Depa director Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said the Budget Bureau has yet to allocate 300 million baht in unused budget for smart cities development in fiscal 2017, as the Software Industry Promotion Agency is in transition to becoming part of Depa.

"The longer the budget approval is postponed, the longer the project execution will be delayed," he said.

According to a forecast by Siemens, the global market for smart cities will be valued at US$1.24 trillion (40.75 trillion baht) in 2019, compared with $575 billion in 2014.

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