IDC of U.S. names Phuket, Khon Kaen as Asian smart cities

The southern city of Phuket and the northeastern hub Khon Kaen won awards last week for outstanding smart-city projects in the Asia-Pacific region from International Data Corporation of Massachusetts with their smart tourism and health projects showing that innovation in Thailand isn’t limited to Bangkok and the Eastern Seaboard.

“We believe that the achievement in building robust smart cities will help attract both foreign direct investment and skilled labor,” said Jarit Sidhu of IDC’s Thailand office.

Phuket and Khon Kaen were among 19 cities that had projects named as “most outstanding” from a pool of 148 projects that IDC analyzed and critiqued. The company considered projects across the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan because of that country’s already advanced level of technological development.

Projects were assessed using several benchmarks. They included best practices of urban innovation with an ultimate focus on the use of technologies and data.  Employing the cloud, platforms, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile solutions were important. IDC also looked for unique partnerships, funding models, and community involvement.

Aside from the cities themselves, the awards for the Thai cities were a feather in the cap of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA). Established in early 2017, DEPA is a government unit tasked with promoting and supporting digital industries, technology, and innovation for economic, social, cultural and security benefits to the country.

Khon Kaen won in the “public health and social services” category with its Smart Health project, and Phuket won the “tourism, arts, libraries and open spaces” category for its Smart Tourism and Living Communities project.

The Khon Kaen Smart Health project works with local healthcare service providers and universities. It has deployed a smart ambulance equipped with teleconferencing, IoT, and robotics technology to increase emergency dispatch operation efficiency and aid in initial diagnoses.

It has distributed smart wristbands and smart home solutions to monitor and collect citizens’ health data and provide health guidance accordingly, and is beginning to use blockchain and big data analytics to create a database available to private and public healthcare providers.

The Phuket Smart Tourism and Living Communities partners with various government agencies, Prince of Songkhla University and Phuket City Development to achieve sustainable tourism and safety in the city.

The project has made available citywide free high-speed Wi-Fi, the Phuket Smart City application, and smart wristbands for tourists. Public safety is aided by deploying CCTV cameras with analytics capabilities including license plate and facial recognition. In smart environment, it adapted the wastewater management system to utilize IoT technology. And, for smart government, it is creating a data platform to provide real-time city data to support decision-making.