On 27 April, ASEAN released a concept
note which outlines Singapore’s proposal to establish an ASEAN Smart Cities
According to the document, most of ASEAN’s growth has been,
and will continue to be, driven by urban centres, with 90 million more people
expected to urbanise by 2030. However, rapid urbanisation also has implications
on issues like city congestion, water and air quality, poverty, rising
inequalities, urban-rural divide, citizen security and safety.
“Technological and digital solutions can be utilised to
resolve these issues and to enhance quality and accessibility of services,
thereby improving our citizens’ lives across the urban-rural continuum,
creating new opportunities for them and helping ensure that no one is left
behind,” the concept note writes.
In recognition of these trends, Singapore proposes to
establish an ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) to synergise these efforts and
bring the smart cities in ASEAN together, thereby contributing to ASEAN community
The ASEAN Smart Cities Network include 26 pilot cities. They
are (in alphabetical order): Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangkok, Banyuwangi, Battambang,
Cebu City, Chonburi, Da Nang, Davao City, DKI Jakarta, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City,
Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Luang Prabang, Makassar, Mandalay,
Manila, Nay Pyi Taw, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Siem Reap, Singapore, Vientiane, and Yangon.
ASEAN member states will also be asked to assign Chief Smart
City Officers (one for each ASCN city) as well as National Representatives to participate
in crafting their respective city’s action plan and discuss the ASEAN Smart
Cities and attend ASCN meetings.
Vision for an ASEAN
Smart Cities Network
The ASCN is envisioned as a collaborative platform where up
to three cities from each ASEAN member state, including capitals, work towards
the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development.
The primary goal of the Network is to improve the lives of
ASEAN citizens, using technology as an enabler.
“By focusing on our people, it will adopt an inclusive approach
to smart city development that is respectful of human rights and fundamental
freedoms as inscribed in the ASEAN Charter. The networking of Smart Cities
across ASEAN would also contribute to enhancing better mutual understanding
across cultures,” the document writes.
Goals of the ASEAN
Smart Cities Network
The ASCN aims to achieve the following goals of (1) facilitating
cooperation on smart cities development, (2) catalysing bankable projects with
the private sector, and (3) securing funding and support from ASEAN’s external
Member cities and their National Representatives will come
together to explore potential complementarities, share best practices, develop
individualised action plans for smart city development from 2018 to 2025, and
craft a framework for smart cities development that is unique to ASEAN;
Under the network, member cities will also be linked up with
private sector solution providers to kick-start practical and commercially
viable projects with tangible outcomes. They will also pair up with specific
external partners on a voluntary basis, and form mutually beneficial partnerships
to drive smart cities development, while promoting better understanding between
ASEAN and its external partners at the cities level.
Multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank
(and International Financial Cooperation), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) are
some of the external partners.
Key initiatives of
Action Plans for Smart City Development (2018 – 2025)
In May 2018, Singapore will host the 5-day Smart Cities
Governance Workshop (SCGW) where member cities will develop initial action
plans for smart city development. The action plans will contain specific
projects and action lines that the member city will undertake from 2018 to 2025,
in its desired areas of focus. Those action plans can be developed from cities’
existing blueprints or action plans for smart, inclusive, and sustainable
urbanisation, if any.
After AMS formally endorse the draft ASEAN Smart Cities
Framework, member cities will share their action plans and meet with
private-sector solution providers from ASEAN and beyond to explore commercially
Smart Cities Framework
The ASCN member cities and their National Representatives
will also jointly craft an ASEAN Smart Cities Framework that articulates
ASEAN’s definition of a smart city, outlines key principles, and identifies
According to the concept note, the Framework will not impose
on existing national development plans. Instead, it will be a normative
document that guides the smart city development in each ASCN city, which is
specific to each city’s local and cultural context.
The member cities and National Representatives will discuss
a revised draft framework, based on the initial draft prepared by Singapore, at
the SCGW in May 2018. The framework will be targeted for endorsement at the
first ASCN meeting in July and adoption by the ASEAN Leaders at the 33rd ASEAN
Summit in November 2018.
Meeting of the ASCN
In this July, alongside the World Cities Summit, Singapore
will convene the first annual meeting of the ASCN, inviting all member cities
and their National Representatives.
After 2018, the ASCN will continue to meet annually to
discuss progress on each city’s action plan, launch new projects with private sector
solution providers where feasible, and explore new opportunities to bring
ASEAN’s external partners on board.
The annual meeting will be chaired and hosted by the ASEAN
Chair to help promote continuity of efforts across several ASEAN Chairmanships.
The ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) will produce an annual report based on the
outcomes of this meeting.
As ASEAN Chair, Singapore will facilitate the formation of
these pairings in the ASCN’s inaugural year by organising a “matchmaking”
platform alongside the ASCN’s first meeting in July 2018. The ASCN member
cities will each pair up with one of ASEAN’s external partners on a voluntary
basis, forming mutually beneficial partnerships for cooperation on smart cities
development. These partnerships could focus on implementing commercially viable
projects and other initiatives as mutually agreed, based on the cities’ action
The finalised list of pairings between ASCN cities and
external partners will be collated. The twinning programme will then be
announced during the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related
Post-Ministerial Conferences in August 2018.
According to the concept note, “effective cross-pillar
coordination is a perennial issue that ASEAN has yet to fully resolve”, and
that “the ASCN will pave the way for more effective cross-pillar collaboration
in ASEAN, by enhancing cooperation at city level to address city-specific
issues across the three pillars”.
The Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM) will serve as the
ASCN’s primary reporting mechanism. Following the ASCN meeting every year, the
Chair of the ASCN (i.e. the National Representative of the ASEAN Chair) and the
ASCN shepherd will attend the JCM as resource persons, and submit a report of the
ASCN’s progress and key achievements.
The JCM will then report to the ASEAN Coordinating Council
(ACC) and the ASEAN Summit. As the ASCN matures, the ASCN could review the
reporting mechanism and make a recommendation to the JCM on a reporting
mechanism that would best support smart cities development in all ten member
Within the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), the
monitoring/secretariat role will be played by ASEC’s Integration Monitoring
Directorate (IMD) under the ASEAN Economic Community Branch. IMD will monitor
the progress made on the member cities’ action plans and assist with the
drafting of the ASCN’s annual reports.