Bangkok tops for “Travel & Leisure” and Singapore & Kuala Lumpur top for “Smart Cities”


Cities as a place for working and living is getting more complex, with the explosion of the “Information Society” and the “Knowledge Based Economy.” Then there is the “Creative Economy” concept, along with “The Arts and Culture.” Singapore was just rated the 2nd place in the Asia Pacific “Smart City” list with Kuala Lumpur getting the 7th place. Thailand’s Bangkok, meanwhile was rated by the prestigious Travel and Leisure Magazine, as the best city globally.

Travel and Leisure Magazine says:

  • It’s no surprise that this city of contrasts, 10 million strong, has captured the No. 1 spot overall for three years and counting. Gilded Buddhist temples are juxtaposed with slick skyscrapers; long-tail boats ply the peaceful river. The sweet and spicy food—served on the street or from the top of high-rise towers—is addicting, and so is the affordable shopping.

But what is a “Smart City?” Wikipedia says;

Urban performance currently depends not only on the city’s endowment of hard infrastructure (‘physical capital’), but also, and increasingly so, on the availability and quality of knowledge communication and social infrastructure (‘intellectual and social capital’). The latter form of capital is decisive for urban competitiveness. It is against this background that the concept of the “smart city” has been introduced as a strategic device to encompass modern urban production factors in a common framework and to highlight the growing importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), social and environmental capital in profiling the competitiveness of cities.[1] The significance of these two assets – social and environmental capital – itself goes a long way to distinguish smart cities from their more technology-laden counterparts, drawing a clear line between them and what goes under the name of either digital or intelligent cities.

  • The following is from Boyd Cohen, PhD, Urban and Climate Strategist:

The phrase “smart cities” has only emerged in the past few years, yet conferences, companies, citizens, and cities around the globe have become enamored with the concept. After all, who wants to live in a dumb city?

Still, the field has yet to reach consensus on a definition for “smart cities,” let alone on how to compare one city to another in the same country, or around the globe.

As a researcher and consultant, I have been working on two primary initiatives to resolve these issues. The first, as reported here in December, was the development of the Smart Cities Wheel, a holistic tool for developing and implementing smart cities strategies.

The other initiative I have been working on is a benchmarking project. The first of these was published in January 2012, before the Smart Cities Wheel was developed, using data gathered across a range of categories. The result was the first global ranking of its kind.

After developing the Smart Cities Wheel, I expanded the sources of data I used to benchmark cities. This resulted in a need to regionalize the ranking because many data sources did not allow for easy comparison across different regions.

Thus, I recently published the top 10 ranking of European smart cities and more recently a top 10 ranking of North American smart cities.

What follows here is my first-ever regional ranking of Asia/Pacific cities, published exclusively with UBM‘s Future Cities. Below is a table ranking the Top 10 in order, which will be discussed in greater detail in the subsequent pages.

— Boyd Cohen, PhD, Urban and Climate Strategist

  • Within ASEAN, many cities are pushing for a smart city concept. For example, in Bangkok, while known as a travel and tourism city, have also targeted the “Smart City” concept. For example, the plan is for Bangkok to have about 10,000 sites for Free Wifi, so that in most places in Bangkok, the internet will be available. Then the management of Bangkok itself, from traffic to crime, is dependent a great deal on massive numbers of surveillance cameras. Then for the various ministry, that serves the public in Bangkok, most have went on-line, with their service.

Wikipedia says:

Smart(er) cities have also been used as a marketing concept by companies and by cities.

Smart cities can be identified (and ranked) along six main axes or dimensions.[2] These axes are: a smart economy; smart mobility; a smart environment; smart people; smart living; and, finally, smart governance. These six axes connect with traditional regional and neoclassical theories of urban growth and development. In particular, the axes are based – respectively – on theories of regional competitiveness, transport and ICT economics, natural resources, human and social capital, quality of life, and participation of citizens in the governance of cities.

A city can be defined as ‘smart’ when investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic developmentand a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement.

The concept of the smart city as the next stage in the process of urbanisation has been quite fashionable in the policy arena in recent years, with the aim of drawing a distinction from the termsdigital city or intelligent city.[3] Its main focus is still on the role of ICT infrastructure, but much research has also been carried out on the role of human capital/education, social and relational capital and environmental interest as important drivers of urban growth.

The European Union (EU), in particular, has devoted constant efforts to devising a strategy for achieving urban growth in a smart sense for its metropolitan city-regions.[4][5] Other international institutions and thinktanks also believe in a wired, ICT-driven form of development. The Intelligent Community Forum produces, for instance, research on the local effects of the worldwide ICT revolution. The OECD and EUROSTAT Oslo Manual[6] stresses instead the role of innovation in ICT sectors and provides a toolkit to identify consistent indicators, thus shaping a sound framework of analysis for researchers on urban innovation. At a mesoregional level, we observe renewed attention for the role of soft communication infrastructure in determining economic performance.[7]

The availability and quality of the ICT infrastructure is not the only definition of a smart or intelligent city. Other definitions stress the role of human capital and education and learning in urban development. It has been shown, for example,[8][9] that the most rapid urban growth rates have been achieved in cities where a high share of educated labour force is available.

Innovation is driven by entrepreneurs who innovate in industries and products which require an increasingly more skilled labour force. Because not all cities are equally successful in investing in human capital, an educated labour force – the ‘creative class‘ [10] – is spatially clustering over time. This tendency for cities to diverge in terms of human capital has attracted the attention of researchers and policy 


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