- People must be at the centre of smart city planning, say experts -

Technology can transform cities, but planning should revolve around the lives of people in the cities, said panellists at a session on Designing Cities 4.0 at the World Economic Forum on Asean.

-The Straits Times-

The diverse group of speakers from different parts of the region – who included a minister, a government official and private-sector participants – discussed ways to build smart cities in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The focus on building smart cities has gained in significance in recent years, with the increasing ease and affordability of using technology. Yet, as city leaders speed to build their own digitally powered cities, there are concerns that such cities could increase inequity within societies.

The emphasis on using technology to increase opportunities and improve efficiencies in public services is noteworthy, but city designers and architects need to ensure their cities are inclusive and have enough social space for human interactions, the speakers said on Wednesday.

Singapore has had a very aggressive approach towards redesigning the economy throughout its history – both the physical na-ture as well as opportunities for people, said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport, and Communications and Information. “And every five or seven years, we have had to think about where we need to intervene, what space we need to intervene in,” he said.

Building a smart nation is part of the current wave because of the impact that technology can have. And any project must lead to new opportunities and capabilities. Simply digitising businesses would not work, he noted.

“Smart then needs to be trans-formative… It needs to generate a new set of opportunities, it needs to generate jobs, it needs to generate real-world outcomes on the basis of today’s assess-ment, and it needs to create op-portunity for change,” Dr Janil told the audience.

It must also be 100 per cent inclusive, he said, because “people who benefit are living cheek by jowl with people who are left behind”.

Ms Maria Rebecca Peláez Plaza, president of Manila-based architectural design firm Plaza + Partners Inc, highlighted the importance of reviewing the past to come up with effective solutions for the future that addressed the human dimension.

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