• “Robust and integrated central digital infrastructure is necessary to realise excellence in public service delivery.“

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Dec 5): The 4th Asean-Japan Smart Cities Network High Level Meeting kickstarted here on Sunday (Dec 4), with Asean highlighting three key efforts in promoting smart and sustainable city development in the region.

Asean Secretary General Datuk Lim Jock Hoi, in delivering his opening remarks at the event, highlighted that firstly, investment in digital infrastructure is critical for smart city development, whereby data can help officials make informed decisions to service their citizens more effectively.

“Robust and integrated central digital infrastructure is necessary to realise excellence in public service delivery,“ he said in his speech, which was pre-recorded, at the event.

In this regard, he said Japan has been supporting Asean through Smart Japan-Asean Mutual Partnership, which conducts feasibility studies to help cities determine the appropriate digital infrastructure for smart city development.

Lim also said Asean emphasised on enhancing human capital, which is essential to seize smart city opportunities, especially when considering various capacities of Asean cities in managing smart city projects.

He said many Asean cities, especially small- and middle-sized ones, require the support of the institutions that could help local government design and implement smart city initiatives.

“As such, Asean and Japan can collaborate to provide strategic and technical support that helps localities in executing smart city plans,” he added.

Thirdly, Lim said that inclusive community participation is crucial to implement Smart City initiatives, with reaching out to people in the problem-solving process, which will subsequently help the local government select appropriate solutions to various community issues in the respective areas.

Thus, he said this will help improve the quality of life of those who work and live in the cities.

Lim said pursuing smart and sustainable city development is high on Asean’s agenda, as the regional grouping strive to tackle urban challenges and empower vulnerable communities in those cities.

“In this regard, I would like to commend the government of Japan for their unwavering support towards realising smart city initiatives in Asean,” he added.

Lim said the Covid-19 pandemic impacted every aspect of urban life, and in response, Asean member states and cities have continued to transform digitally and sustainably to tackle urban challenges, as well as advance their recovering efforts.  

“Thus, I believe today’s meeting will bring enormous opportunity for members of the Asean Smart Cities Network to exchange ideas and experiences with Japan in making our cities more liveable,” he said.  

The two day 4th Asean-Japan Smart Cities Network High Level Meeting, which ends on Monday, is hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, in partnership with Asean member states and related government agencies and municipalities.

This annual international meeting has contributed to building collaborative relationships in the smart city field between Asean and Japan, since its inaugural meeting in 2019.

The high-level meeting held at the University of Aizu in Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima, is being attended by delegates from Asean states, besides three media personal from the Philippines, Cambodia and Malaysia.

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