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Ports of the future: Balancing growth and urban liveability

A joint forum by Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) & Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) Academy held on 12 July 2016 at Marina Bay Sands brought together over 150 local and international maritime professionals, executives and students from both the public and private sectors. The event was held in conjunction with the World Cities Summit (WCS) 2016.

Mayor of Antwerp, Bart de Wever and Deputy Mayor of Yokohama, Toshihide Hirahara, both talked about the development journeys of their respective ports, especially on areas on how to balance growth and sustainability. Chief executive of MPA, Mr Andrew Tan, presented Singapore’s opportunities and challenges at the Tuas Mega Port, was the moderator for the session.

Mr Tan said, “The Port has always been an integral part of the economy and with the future consolidation of our port at Tuas, we will take full advantage of technologies to enhance our port’s efficiency, reliability, safety and competitive edge. Along with other developments and amenities in the area, the Next Generation Port will include green and community spaces and facilities to educate visitors on our port heritage and growth opportunities”.

Earlier in the day during a panel discussion on smart cities at WCS 2016, a panelist pointed out that many of the current regulations were not designed for smart cities. Dr Vivian Balankrishnan, Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, mentioned that it is not just about technology alone:

“A lot of it is not about technology, but about policy innovation. A large part of innovation is in the policy space”.

While technology is growing faster than most of us can catch up with, an essential component for the development of Smart Cities is the ability of governments to innovate, not just in practice or at the surface level but digging deeper into policy and planning levels. This means, as Dr Balankrishnan emphasised, planning and building infrastructure ahead of demand and paying attention to key aspects such as cybersecurity, which is being taken for granted.

Technological innovations need to work hand-in-hand with policy/planning innovations to achieve the eventual goal of many governments to become Smart Cities that is not only tech-driven but also sustainable and enjoyable to live in.

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