2022 Asia Smart City Ranking

2022 Asia Smart City Ranking
-- Smart city evaluation on developing economies with a regional integration orientation

Prologue


I visited Cape Saint Vincent in Sagres, Portugal, the southernmost tip of continental Europe in 2016. In the early 15th century, Europeans’ desires for trade drove them resolutely to sea, opening the Age of Great Navigation. Zheng He, from China, also sailed to Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. At that time, the territory of Asia was relatively stable and prosperous. The Ottoman Empire and the Timurid Empire (including the later Mughal Empire) stretched from the Anatolian Plateau, Mesopotamia, to Delhi, India. There were a large number of Southeast Asia merchants from the Champa Kingdom (now Vietnam), Siam (now Thailand), Malacca (now Malaysia), and Sumatra (now Indonesia) in Guangzhou during the Ming Dynasty. Asia was so prosperous and if those Asian countries open further, will Asia rather than Europe reach the peak of civilization? Today, global geopolitical situations are changing dramatically, and Asia is at a crossroads again.

We established a smart city evaluation system with the orientation of regional integration to systematically evaluate the development of major cities in developing Asian economies. By presenting a smart city panorama, we guide the development of Asian smart cities and promote regional integration, cooperative governance, and trade and people-to-people communications. We also hope that Asia’s prosperity can be revived and become the power to promote the development of global civilization and maintain peace.

Dr. Chen Xi

Founder of Harbor Overseas

In Nansha, Guangzhou

May, 2022


1. Background

Nearly half a century of super-globalization[1] is ending, leading the world into a new era of globalization restructured in new ways. From the Mediterranean to the Pacific, economies are actively seeking solutions for integrating economic and security communities in response to geopolitical changes, global economic downturns, and new changes in the absence of technological revolutions. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2022 further intensifies this process, bringing two deterministic geopolitical changes to the world. (1) Accelerated regionalization. The regional economic communities are gradual prominent with the unified global market is disrupted, such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IFEF), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). (2) Accelerated collectivization. The security communities have presented the more attractiveness compared with the economic communities, such as the Asianization of NATO, the Australia-UK-US alliance (AUKUS), the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and the Five Eyes alliance. We will see the expansion of some China-related global organizations, including the BRICS, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

In this context, experts from various countries have put forward many theoretical suggestions to adapt to the process of reshaping globalization, with urbanization and the development of smart cities being the core considered issues. Nonetheless, the world, including China, urgently needs more practical strategies that must be systematically integrated to avoid siloed development.

 The smart cities incorporate communications, computing, and other digital infrastructures designed around people to move cities into the modern civilization. Furtherly, the general concept of a smart city has broader aspects, including digital, traditional (rail transit networks, energy Internet, and public health networks), and institutional infrastructures (digital governance, data factor market, and international rules or consensus). Traditional and digital infrastructures support each other and are activated by institutional infrastructures. We have compiled the “smart city evaluation on developing economies with the orientation of regional integration” report based on the general concept. It guides Asian developing economies’ smart city development strategies and promotes the cross-regional integration of economic and security systems.

This approach has the following advantages: (1) Compared with the cooperation between countries, the cooperation between cities or city clusters has higher operability; (2) Cities and city clusters of multilateral economies can cooperate in the continental hinterlands, fringes, or islands to build an in-depth digital area larger than the geographic settings. It will change the priority of smart city construction tasks in Asia and achieve the integration of digital, traditional, and institutional infrastructure; (3) Establishing a “planning, construction, and operation” management and control system will reduce the risk of project failure caused by local political changes; (4) Cross-regional people-to-people communications will build cultural consensus.

Column 1: Major forces of shaping globalization

The super-globalization that has lasted for nearly half a century and is characterized by the free flow of various factors of production has been blocked (not extinguished). The world’s economic and security systems are facing restructuring that will reshape globalization, including the development of smart cities. Various forces will   influence this process.

Digital infrastructure is the first power to reshape globalization. However, it will not play a greater role in the short term due to the absence of revolutionary technologies. For example, current vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems (including 5G communications, autonomous driving, and road network technologies) and new energy systems (including hydrogen, wind, and solar energy and energy storage technologies) cannot effectively support cross-regional city systems. Also, the commercialization of 6G communication network will not be scaled until 2028-2030 due to several unresolved challenges such as satellite-ground signal fusions, antenna technologies, and new network structures. Then, revolutions in communication, computing, transportation, and energy will enable satellite cities around city clusters to have strong survivability and drive the global economy to higher levels.

Traditional infrastructure is the second power to reshape globalization. Rail transit networks scaled commercialization in East Asia (mainly Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta) and Indo-China Peninsula, as well as vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems, energy Internet, and public health networks, are changing the definition of traditional infrastructure. Institutional infrastructure, including digital governance, data factor   markets, and international rules or consensus, is the third power to reshape globalization. These two powers will be discussed in other columns.

 

     Column 2: Asian city policymakers

Asian city policymakers are pragmatic. For example, next-generation vehicles such as autonomous driving and unmanned aerial vehicles will enter the daily lives of some East and Southeast Asian   cities before 2025-2028. Whether transitional technologies such as "5G+ networks" (or pre-6G) will be promoted before 2025 will be an issue considered by many Asian cities’ policymakers. If these technologies can promote integration and employment, they will drive transportation, energy, cultural, or entertainment applications, and determine the development process of key technologies, including base station power, mobile charging, and edge computing.

2. Indicator System

We selected 37 indicators significantly related to government actions from digital, traditional, institutional infrastructures, and people's participation to construct a smart city action map of cooperative "business, technology, and mechanism." These indicators are pragmatic. For example, we agreed with ideologies such as people's satisfaction and social inclusion, despite the difficulties with measuring them. We chose to coordinate the construction of digital parks, museums, or art centers and develop the sharing economy as indicators to guide people to participate in digital construction and improve their digital literacies. These indicators are also universal and highly accessible. For example, we have abandoned the indicators that are only applicable under the special system, and all indicators are acquired from public information.

(1) Digital Infrastructure

Digital infrastructures, such as wired and wireless communication networks, perception systems and city codes, blockchains, computing facilities, big data platforms, and cooperative security systems for networks, the cloud, data center, data, and applications, together with traditional infrastructure will connect cities and towns in the continental hinterlands, fringes, or islands.

(2) Traditional Infrastructure

The flow and communication of people are the sources of ideas and innovation, and it will be realized by connecting cross-regional satellite cities (or towns). However, the resilience of satellite cities needs to be improved as it can reduce the uncertainty caused by the high concentration of city resources and emergency events such as climate change, epidemic disease, and social unrest. Therefore, we encourage the construction of cross-regional rail transit networks, vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems and autonomous driving networks, energy Internet, and public health networks.

(3) Institutional Infrastructure - Digital Governance

Many countries are discussing whether to set digital governance as an executive responsibility. For example, Chinese administrative scholars have been debating whether the “three responsibilities” (determination of responsibilities, organization, and staffing) can be extended to the "four responsibilities" (adding determination of data). However, reshaping business processes in the government sector will face resistance, but developing virtual organizations or creating data officers may smoothly promote reform. "Cross-regional government service system" will enable citizens to conduct business online across cities and departments and improve the efficiency of government services. The coordinated construction of a credit supervision system, including implementing joint rewards for trustworthiness and joint punishments for dishonest persons, will guide good conduct among citizens and organizations. The coordinated construction of the city emergency cooperative system, which combines peace, warfare, and regional cooperation to respond to city emergency events such as natural disasters and safety procedures, will improve the resilience of city clusters. 

Digital giants, including platform economies, play positive roles in smart city construction. However, if digital giants are not regulated, their instinct of monopolizing data will squeeze out many MSMEs (Micro- Small- Medium Enterprises), ultimately harming local economic development. Governments need to publish regulations to guide the development of digital giants and encourage the innovation of MSMEs.

Few cities in the world implement “planning, construction, and operation” management and control systems for a smart city. Its absence leads to weak systematic, forward-looking, and innovative projects. We encourage cities to publish multi-level management and control systems, including smart city master plans, regulatory plans, (cross-) departmental and (cross-) district-level special plan and design evaluation systems for applications or facilities in construction or use for the long-term, and dynamic evaluations. From the evaluation results of "in use" applications or facilities, a whitelist of potential market players can be formed to refine the market environment.

(4) Institutional Infrastructure - Data Factor Market

The data factor markets are the vitality of smart cities. Governments need to create orderly competitive environments and build market access negative list systems. Market entities such as data transaction platforms and data intermediary ecosystems should be encouraged to take the lead in exploring confirmation, evaluation, and pricing mechanisms of data resource and sharing mechanisms for the interests of the data market. It is worth noting that the market practices can break the bottlenecks in the data factor market. Governments are urged to build intelligent property protection mechanisms and arbitration mechanisms for intelligent property disputes in the digital factor market to protect the innovation of the data intermediary ecology.

(5) Institutional Infrastructure - International Rules and Consensus

Economies have varied political, economic, cultural, and technological environments, making reaching comprehensive digital economy agreements challenging. We encourage the release of bilateral or multilateral international rules promoted by Asian cities or city clusters supported by national governments. It will promote reasonable digital flow, bridge the digital divide, build category- and class-based supervision for AI system applications, and build a personal privacy data protection system.

(6) People Participation

People participation is an indicator to quantify difficulty. We choose to encourage governments to direct the construction of digital villages, digital parks, digital museums or art centers, and other cross-regional interactive public participation applications. We also encourage developing the sharing economy as it guides people’s participation in smart city constructions, improves their digital literacies, promotes cross-regional peoples-to-people communications, and forms cultural consensus.

3. Evaluated Cities

Based on the World Bank[2] income-based evaluation standard using "Lower Middle Income and Upper Middle Income" as evaluation objects, we selected 48 cities from East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia. Most are national capitals, including Islamabad, Kuala Lumpur, and Ankara; Chiang Mai and Istanbul are included for their cultural and geographical advantages; Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk in Russia are selected for their geographic location in Asia.

4. Conclusions    

After evaluating the cities[3], we invited 32 senior officials and experts from information technology, traditional infrastructure and investment, international relationship and public governance, and governmental affairs to assign weights to indicators and obtain the final overall score ranking of cities.

Ranking

City

Score

Ranking

City

Score

1

Shanghai

293.44

25

Surabaya

97.00

2

Beijing

286.13

26

Ho Chi Ming City

96.31

3

Shenzhen

272.41

27

Johor Bahru

95.56

4

Hangzhou

252.00

28

Amman

84.25

5

Guangzhou

249.16

29

Karachi

80.66

6

Nanjing

234.88

30

Dhaka

80.56

7

Chengdu

233.94

31

Yerevan

80.16

8

Chongqing

225.31

32

Bishkek

75.78

9

Wuhan

218.41

33

Tashkent

75.16

10

Zhuhai

211.34

34

Baku

74.31

11

Kuala Lumpur

136.56

35

Thimphu

73.84

12

Novosibirsk

125.56

36

Ulaanbaatar

71.00

13

Bangkok

123.41

37

Dushanbe

68.69

14

Istanbul

121.84

38

Tehran

66.38

15

Yekaterinburg

115.50

39

Colombo

59.88

16

Jakarta

111.47

40

Yangon

59.00

17

Calcutta

111.09

41

Tbilisi

56.88

18

Chiang Mai

111.00

42

Beirut

54.75

19

Phnom Penh

107.34

43

Vientiane

50.97

20

Mumbai

106.03

44

Baghdad

45.59

21

Ankara

104.94

45

Kathmandu

43.56

22

Manila

103.72

46

Ashgabat

37.28

23

Almaty

101.53

47

Male

34.59

24

Islamabad

100.91

48

Dili

15.34

Table 1: Ranking in Overall[4]

(1) Digital Infrastructure
(the ranking of sub-item can be found from the full text as attachment)

Chinese cities have achieved significant results in almost all indicators of digital infrastructure, so we focused on other cities.

Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kolkata, Amman, Yerevan, Yekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk are taking concrete actions to advance 5G or optical networks. However, many Asian cities are still struggling with the issues of network qualities and low coverage. In addition, half of the evaluated cities began the coordinated construction of the multi-sources perception system. Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh, and Mumbai have promoted digital currencies using blockchains.

Coordinated construction of computing facilities, especially cross-regional green computing, will reduce energy consumption. Dhaka, Thimphu, Islamabad, Almaty, and Tashkent have also done unexpectedly well in this indicator.

Both horizontal cross-departmental cooperative systems and vertical “city-district-street-community” downward extension of governmental governance need the support of city-level brains, operating systems, spatial maps, and standard algorithm libraries. Karachi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Surabaya have achieved good results in this indicator.

With the development of smart cities, it is necessary to gradually construct cooperative security systems for networks, the cloud, data centers, data, and applications. In this indicator, Hangzhou and Nanjing are at the forefront of Asia.

Column 3:   Digital infrastructure

Complex digital infrastructure has been extended   from a single city scale to a cross-regional scale. Safer and faster   satellite-to-ground quantum communication is coming out of the lab.   Perception systems such as mobile terminals and cameras have spread   throughout the city. Likewise, blockchain has rapidly become the   infrastructure for innovative applications such as digital currency and   digital art. Data centers, edge computing servers, and other equipment are   moving toward green, intensive, and intelligent cross-regional computing   facilities. The actions in China regarding channeling more computing   resources from the developed and data-rich eastern region to the   less-developed but resource-rich western region is a step in the right   direction. The big data platform is not only the base of the system but also   supports data fusion and computing applications such as the city brain and   the city operating system.

(2) Traditional Infrastructure
(the ranking of sub-item can be found from the full text as attachment)

Rail transit network between cities (clusters) is being upgraded from traditional main rail networks to the suburban railway and intercity rail networks and cross-regional urban rail networks (such as subways or light rail). In this indicator, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Manila, Bangkok, and Istanbul have excellent performances. Cities on the Chinese mainland, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Manila, and Novosibirsk have accumulated rich experience conducting autonomous-driving tests. Likewise, Jakarta, Surabaya, Ho Chi Minh City, Chiang Mai, Istanbul, and Islamabad have started scaling the commercialization of energy Internet.

  Column 4: Traditional infrastructure and financing

  Compared with the urban core areas, with better investment values and predictabilities, cross-regional project groups face greater challenges of financial viability. Realizing cross-regional cooperation of business, technical, and mechanical systems will create more business and employment opportunities at a cross-regional scale. These will help project clusters such as transportation hubs, energy nodes, communication networks, and data centers to achieve financial balance in shorter terms.

Based on electronic medical records, half of the evaluated cities have constructed the digital system of “hospital and grassroots healthcare institutions.” Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kuala Lumpur, and Ankara have made initial progress in constructing cross-regional public health networks.

   Column 5: Public health network

    The One Health system, which also includes public health and management, has become a part of traditional infrastructure. The concept of the public health network is also broad. For example, it involves collecting   and releasing epidemic information and analyzing health big data. Among them, "electronic medical records" are the basic elements for building health networks and realizing cross-regional public health networks such as referrals and hierarchical diagnosis and treatment. It is appropriate to   treat the development of "electronic medical records" as the key to building a "regional integration"-oriented public health network. We encourage governments to develop mobile, interactive, and multi-level health service systems to address complex situations such as preventive treatment, chronic disease management, personal health, and so on. Building the One Health system with controllable cost, doctor-patient interaction, patient self-management, cooperation of medicine and health, and a wider geographical coverage will equip the world to better deal with the next public health crisis.

(3) Institutional Infrastructure - Digital Governance
(the ranking of sub-item can be found from the full text as attachment)

The governance system will activate smart cities’ business and technology systems and promote the centralized construction and sharing of the city-level or cross-regional digital infrastructures. Combining centralization and decentralization will improve project reuse and save construction costs. Cities that traditionally tended to rely on the market to play leading roles achieved relatively low scores in digital governance. It must be admitted that indicators such as coordinating the construction of credit supervision systems, emergency systems, directing digital giants’ development, and encouraging the innovation of MSMEs, will be impossible to move forward without government involvement. Most Chinese cities, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Thimphu, Yekaterinburg, Islamabad, and Novosibirsk had high scores.

Suppose governments give up their regulatory responsibilities. In that case, guaranteeing the cross-regional systems and integrity of digital, traditional, and institutional infrastructure will be complex. Most Chinese cities, Yekaterinburg, Almaty, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur, and Tehran have published smart city master plans. Except for Beijing, the only city to have published a regulatory plan, all evaluated cities did not focus on developing “planning, construction, and operation” management and control systems. 

    Column 6:   The role of the government

  We encourage governments to use their powers. Smart city planning with the orientation of regional integration must rely on the government to take the lead since the community-based model will not work. This is because: (1) governments cannot perform regulatory responsibilities without setting up the “planning, construction, and operation" management and control system (including supervision of digital giants); (2) It is not working to full pursuit the market efficiency, but directs more attention to benefit distribution, especially to the public. 

While the efficiency of private enterprise is commendable, we would prefer to see governments take responsibility for   constructing the traditional, digital, and institutional infrastructures rather than the lack of infrastructure due to the absence of governmental duties.

The focus is not on New York, London, and Tokyo but the vast less-developed regions of Asia (probably expanded to include Africa, Latin America, Oceania, and Europe next year). The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) promoted by China and the Group of Seven’s (G7) Global Partnership for Infrastructure (PGII) will be profitable only if government capitals take responsibility for investments and construction of digital, traditional, and institutional infrastructures. Therefore, we expect to see a more significant role for the   government.

 

Column 7: Legal regulation of digital giants

Digital giants are irreplaceable in large-scale integrated businesses such as operating city data and coordinating city   cluster computing. However, digital giants are instinctive to extend their business downstream, limiting the development space for MSMEs. In addition to publishing anti-monopoly regulations, Asian governments can create competitive and friendly environments for MSMEs in market access lists and   bidding processes.

The over-centralized model may limit the innovation of local MSMEs in Asian cities. Some Asian cities have set up state-owned enterprises to lead in digital construction. For example, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Shenzhen have formed data operation companies with advantages of resource integration and high efficiencies. Governments will not undermine market innovation if they edge their operations to limited areas such as data, networks, computing, or platforms. Conversely, if these   market-oriented platforms become full-services and all-region digital giants, it will limit the innovation of other market players.

(4) Institutional Infrastructure - Data Factor Market
(the ranking of sub-item can be found from the full text as attachment)

Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou are at the forefront of constructing the data factor market in Asia. Kolkata and Mumbai have the potential to become cross-regional data transaction platforms. The forces in the long run to develop data factor markets come from intelligent property protection mechanisms. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou have achieved good results in this indicator.

  Column 8:   Data Intermediary Ecosystem

  Many mathematical and financial models have failed to guide data resources scaled commercialization. The proximate cause is that the complexity of data resources limits the definition, evaluation, and pricing of data ownership and processing, using, and income rights. The underlying cause is less diversity in the market entities, for example, the underdeveloped data intermediary ecosystem in Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. Without active and diversified entities, the value of Data Exchange will be greatly diminished. The current transaction entities in the data factor market are   digital giants or governments. The absence of a prosperous data intermediary ecosystem makes it impossible to meet the customized and diversified digital commodities needs of numerous MSMEs and individual users.


 Column 9:   Digital financial innovation

Asian cities need to be cautious about digital financial innovations, for example, real estate investment trusts (REITs). Infrastructures such as communication networks, data centers, and big data platforms are mostly public facilities. The frequency of technology   iterations is mostly five to ten years, which spells weak profitability and   rapid depreciation of assets. Compared with traditional infrastructure REITs with a maturity of more than ten years, it has a lower investment yield.

New fintech innovations are emerging in international metropolises such as Singapore, London, and New York. Digital collections within regulatory sandboxes and Web 3.0 are exciting financial markets. Still, for most developing Asian economies, using smart cities to promote people-to-people communication, natural and scientific exploration, and social stability have higher priorities than fintech model innovation. In the future, more fintech innovations could be considered for this evaluation system. However, we do not recommend Asian cities chase these hotspots until their commercial and financial risks are   further exposed. 

(5) Institutional Infrastructure - International Consensus
(the ranking of sub-item can be found from the full text as attachment)

Most Chinese cities have published city-level regulations, including bridging the digital divide, building category- and class-based supervision for AI system applications, and building a privacy data protection system. In other Asian regions, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg have also achieved good results.

Column 10: International rule and technological ethics

Different economies have different credit systems and privacy tolerances, making it difficult to promote cross-regional digital governance systems. However, waiting for the publication of national regulations will delay the response time of industries and technologies to social and market demands. More flexible and pragmatic approaches may encourage city clusters with similar cultural backgrounds or close economic ties to focus on special areas to publish bilateral or multilateral agreements to form mutually supportive situations with national regulations.

(6) People Participation 

(the ranking of sub-item can be found from the full text as attachment)

Cities on the Chinese mainland have performed well in digitalizing construction projects such as villages, parks, museums, and art centers. We encourage governments to invest more resources in improving people's digital literacies, which will ultimately benefit the innovative capabilities of local digital MSMEs.

  Column 11: People's digital literacy

  In five years, immersive experiences based on technologies such as virtual reality, brain-computer interfaces, and medical image recognition may become standards in industrial and commercial daily life. Asian people will be able to conduct   technological exchanges, agricultural production, medical care, artistic creation, industrial design, and cross-regional social interactions in real and virtual spaces. Also, based on basic technologies such as communication   networks and blockchain, Asian governments promote payment and credit systems in the vast suburban areas and it will and build suburban digital inclusive financial systems. All of these will enhance   people's digital literacy and safeguard social justice.

5. Discussions

(1) City clusters in Greater China 

City clusters in the Chinese mainland have achieved great advantages in digital, traditional, and institutional infrastructures. However, they still face three major challenges. The first is the lack of a multi-level planning control system inhibits the realization of the “planning, construction, and operation” management and control system. The systematic, forward-looking, and innovative nature of the clusters of projects, which require massive investment, will be challenged. The second is the lack of incentives to the public in the data factor market manifested in the absence of a sharing mechanism for the interest of data resource and intellectual property protection mechanisms. Data providers-communities or individuals-are unable to share the benefits of digital assets. MSMEs, including the digital intermediary ecosystems, also lack innovation motivation, significantly reducing the vitality of many data exchanges. The third is that people participation needs to be further improved. Although most cities have published regulations on bridging the digital divide, there is still much space for improvement in the indicators of the digital villages and digital parks. Comprehensively improving people’s digital literacies is the key to building sustainable competitiveness in the Chinese mainland.

Taipei, Hong Kong, and Macao are specially added to the evaluation of Greater Chian[5]. Taipei achieved good performace Taipei achieved good performance in the traditional infrastructure and data factor market. Surprisingly, Hong Kong and Macao didn’t perform well in the overall score. Compared with Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao lagged significantly in building data factor markets and encouraging people participation, for example, developing a sharing economy.

Ranking

City

Score

Digital
  Infra.

Trad.
  Infra.

Digital Governance

Data Factor Market

International Rule & Consensus

People
  Part.

1

Shanghai

293.44

52.25

41.47

65.03

63.88

46.69

24.13

2

Beijing

286.13

48.63

41.41

72.91

53.56

42.44

27.19

3

Shenzhen

272.41

48.63

33.84

69.16

46.91

46.69

27.19

4

Hangzhou

252.00

53.00

34.03

69.16

26.19

42.44

27.19

5

Guangzhou

249.16

48.63

33.84

58.50

42.63

46.69

18.88

6

Nanjing

234.88

53.00

34.03

62.47

21.44

42.44

21.50

7

Chengdu

233.94

49.16

37.88

52.41

24.88

42.44

27.19

8

Chongqing

225.31

48.25

30.44

51.81

28.25

42.44

24.13

9

Wuhan

218.41

45.53

30.00

51.81

21.44

42.44

27.19

10

Zhuhai

211.34

44.75

22.56

61.47

18.19

42.44

21.94

11

Taipei

181.03

41.16

33.84

47.50

26.03

15.69

16.81

12

Hong Kong

180.09

37.66

19.34

54.78

23.34

36.28

8.69

13

Macao

110.09

40.25

18.72

19.00

7.00

16.44

8.69

Table 8: Ranking in Greater China

The opportunity for Hong Kong and Macao to develop smart cities entails fully using their advantages to integrate with global rules and protect intellectual property rights. For example, serving the data factor market of the Chinese mainland, Southeast Asia and Latin America will build huge digital in-depth areas and cross-regional Data Exchange and data intermediary ecosystems with global influences.

It is a good sign that Hong Kong Northern Metropolitan Area Plan has published three development directions: eastern, central, and western routes. Among them, the central route of the land corridor (River loop area-Hong Kong Central) and the western route of the cross-sea corridor (Qianhai-Yuen Long-Landau Island-Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge) will accelerate the flow of production factors such as talent, capital, and technology across the Pearl River (including Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Hong Kong, and Macao). Compared with the popularly discussed central route, accelerating the construction of digital, traditional, and institutional infrastructures along the western route will better promote the deep integration of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Zhuhai.

(2) Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, and Novosibirsk

The opportunities for Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Jakarta lie in strengthening high-quality communication networks, perception systems, rail networks, energy Internet, and health networks. These factors facilitate the realization of cross-regional connectivity to Putrajaya, the Eastern Economic Corridor, or Bandung, respectively. Meanwhile, strengthening their intellectual property protection will further stir the innovative capacity of digital MSMEs. In addition, investing more resources in people’s digital literacies will eventually offer positive results in the long run.

Novosibirsk, a city that has received less attention from the world, performed well in the evaluation, especially in communication networks, rail transit networks, vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems, and public health networks. It also scored high in encouraging innovation in MSMEs, intellectual property protection, and bridging the digital divide. Unlike the large population and high density of Southeast Asian and South Asian city clusters, Novosibirsk has difficulty developing digital depths. Also, Almaty and Tashkent face the same problems, and creating the institutional space continuously for innovation is their core challenge.

(3) Kolkata, Islamabad, Amman, Almaty, and Tashkent

Except for Kolkata (and Mumbai), Islamabad, Amman, Almaty, and Tashkent were not dominant in the evaluation. Focusing on characteristic industries to develop smart cities is their pragmatic choice.

Kolkata has an excellent city rail transit network, wired communication network, and perception system. These systems extend to surrounding city clusters such as Howrah and Padbara, capable of fast-tracking the development of West Bengal. However, without institutional infrastructure support, the effectiveness of traditional and digital infrastructures will be greatly reduced. It is suggested that Kolkata to take the Data Exchange and digital intermediary ecological construction as the core and promote the construction of digital parks and villages simultaneously. These moves will build a data transaction center in the Bay of Bengal and improve finance, medical care, and education to solve the problems of poverty and sluggish economic development in rural areas. This will create new market space for information service companies in India and drive more high-quality jobs.

Like Kolkata, we encourage the connection of traditional infrastructure between Islamabad, Rawalpindi, and Lahore to promote the free flow of the factors of production between larger city clusters and seek opportunities within large-scale markets.

Amman (including Beirut and Baghdad) has built e-government service systems, and Jordan has clear plans to coordinate the construction of an emergency response system. Still, neither has developed clear advantages or characteristics in this region. Using features like the Dead Sea, ancient Roman theatres, and nomadic Arabian charm to build digital villages, parks, museums, or cultural centers, this remote and interactive digital cultural experience scene will help Amman to create a unique cultural influence, improve the digital literacy of its people, and foster innovative MSMEs. Suppose the local data intermediary ecosystem and the people’s digital literacy are enhanced. In that case, the city could build a regional data exchange center on the east coast of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, we recommend that Amman strengthens its cross-regional traditional infrastructure, for example, by promoting connectivity between Amman and Aqaba and establishing a land link with Jeddah to facilitate the export of mining resources and attract talent, capital, technology, and data resources for Jordan’s digital development as a whole.

We propose upgrading the trunk transport network between Almaty and Tashkent and between them and China and Russia, and strengthening Almaty’s and Tashkent’s public health network, perception systems, and digital parks (e.g., Ili-Alatau National Park in Almaty, Talgar Peak, Elgin-Amr Desert Park), and museums (e.g., the Uzbek National Museum of Art and the Uzbek National Museum of Timur in Tashkent). These moves will help to improve the digital literacy of their local populations.


Epilogue

The process of globalization in recent times has been blocked, and conflicts or wars between different civilizations may ensue if there is a widespread lack of communication, understanding, and consensus. However, globalization itself is correct. After nearly half a century, globalization is undergoing a restructuring process again. War is the norm of civilization, but peace is rare. Our evaluation system stresses building institutional infrastructure with the hope that the social equity it achieves will fix super-globalization and maintain world peace and prosperity.

We hope that the knowledge spillovers based on this evaluation system will enable more stakeholders to take decisive steps. Asian metropolises, digital and traditional infrastructure giants will gain systematic ideas for smart city construction from this report, promote the integration of software and hardware infrastructure, and design a balanced relationship between market efficiency and social equity. Policymakers in many small and medium-sized cities (or towns and remote administrative regions) in Asia will also gain systematic ideas for integrating into metropolitan or core areas, which can benefit more people and MSMEs.

Any feedback and communication with the cities are welcomed and we will try our best to accurately reflect their development stage in the future reports. All deficiencies in this report are attributed to the author.

What happened in 2022 has changed human history. Let us stand together and face what will happen in the next twelve months. See you next year.

Dr. Chen Xi

Founder of Harbor Overseas

In Nansha, Guangzhou

July, 2022

 

Acknowledgement    

    The technological contributions from the 32 global invited evaluators are appreciated. The author and the report will not hold the views on their political stances and will not take responsibility for that.

Information technology

Mr. Ren Yuhang, Board Chair, Beijing Smart City Network Corporation Limited, P.R.C.

Mr. Hu Jie, Vice President, Business Group of House and Construction, China Telecom Corporation Limited, P.R.C.

Ms. Gao Yanli, Chief Advisor of Smart City, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, P.R.C.

Mr. Zeng Qinghua, Director, Smart City Management Center, Jiangbei District, Chongqing, P.R.C.

Dr. Angelos Chronis, Head, City Intelligence Lab, Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Austria

Dr. Judy Backhouse, Senior Academic Fellow, United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance, Portugal

Dr. Prakash Kamtam, Digital Transformation Consultant, United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance, Portugal

Prof. Vitaliy Salnikov, Dean, College of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kazakhstan

Traditional infrastructure and Investment

Mr. Xu Hongchun, Deputy Chief Engineer, First Survey and Design Institute Group Company Limited, China Railway Construction Group Company Limited, P.R.C.

Mr. Liao Jianhang, Deputy General Manager, Fourth Harbor Engineering Corporation Limited, China Communications Construction Company Limited, P.R.C. 

Ms. Gao Zhan. Executive Director of the Board, Beijing Shou Gang Fund Corporation Limited, P.R.C.

Dr. Yuan Jingpeng, Deputy General Manager, International Business Department, Zhejiang Communications Investment Group Corporation Limited, P.R.C.

Mr. Teh Kwee Chin, Senior Vice President, Economics & Investment Strategy Department, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, Singapore  

Prof. David Feldman, Director of Water UCI, Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy, UC Irvine, USA

Mr. Christopher Choa, Executive Director of OUTCOMIST, U.K.  

Mr. David Morris, Vice Chair, Sustainable Business Network, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Australia

International Relationship and Public Administration

Prof. Liu Guoen, President, Institute of Global Health and Development Research, Peking University, P.R.C.

Prof. Zhu Xufeng, Executive Dean, School of Public Policy & Management, Tsinghua University, P.R.C.

Prof. Lin Minwang, Deputy Director, Center of South Asia Research, School of International Relations & Public Affairs, Fudan University, P.R.C.

Mr. Chen Yunguo, Vice-president, the hospital of the Fourth Division, The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, P.R.C.

Mr. Sufian Ahmed Beker, Former Minister of Finance and Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Ethiopia

Mr. Varada Raju, Director, Centre for Financial Systems and Services, Andhra Pradesh, India

Prof. Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Prof. Li Mingjiang, Coordinator of the Ph.D. Program, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Governmental Affairs 

Dr. Song Gang, Head, Business Support Center, Beijing Municipal Comprehensive Law-Enforcing Bureau of City Administration, P.R.C.

Dr. Zhu Runsu, Director, Bureau of Administrative Service and Data Management, Long Hua, Shenzhen, P.R.C.

Ms. Zhang Yan, Chief Economist, Department of Commerce of Henan Province, P.R.C.

Mr. Li Zhiwei, County Mayor, Long You County, Zhejiang Province, P.R.C

Mr. Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas, USA

Mr. Munir Ahmad Jan, Former Director General, Gwadar Port Authority, Pakistan

Mr. Hayk Marutyan, Former Mayor, Municipality of Yerevan, Armenia

Mr. Roshaan Wolusmal, Ex-Deputy Minister of Ministry of Urban Development and Land of Afghanistan and Former Mayor of Kandahar, Afghanistan


Publisher and Author

Harbor Overseas is a global smart-city consulting company based in China. Dr. Chen Xi, the author of this report, is the founder and CEO of Harbor Overseas. He is an expert on geopolitical and technological (geo-tech) competition, smart city, and corporation strategy. He is an academic committee member at the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding of Peking University, and an adjunct associate professor at the Global Health Institute of Xi’an Jiaotong University. He served as the President of the Institute of Smart City Planning and Design of Beijing Municipality (preparatory), having assisted the Beijing Municipal Government shape smart-city policy, regulations, and evaluation systems. He was a visiting senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He served as President of the Institute of Smart City Research at the ZTE Corporation and an advisor to the Strategy Committee. He led in designing smart-city projects in Beijing Sub-center and Gwadar (Pakistan). He completed his PhD under a joint program between Dalian University of Technology and Cornell University, sponsored by the China Scholarship Council. He finished his post-doctoral research on the China-US geo-tech competition under a joint program between Peking University and Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Co-Publisher

The Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding (iGCU) at Peking University is a cutting-edge think tank that integrates academic research, policy advising, and leadership training. With the mission of “Connecting People, Understanding the World”, iGCU seeks to promote global cooperation and understanding by conducting innovative research and policy analysis. In 2021, iGCU was ranked among the "Best Think Tanks in Asia" (ranked 76th) by UPenn's Global Go To Think Tank Index Report.

Copyrights Notice

The trademarks, illustrations, methodology, texts, or opinions in this article are protected by law. Harbor Overseas (Guangzhou) Information S&T Co., Ltd. is authorized by the author to have the legal rights to use all the above works. The author, Chen Xi, owns the copyright and the other intellectual properties rights. It may not be used for any commercial purposes without permissions of copyrights holders. Reprinting, excerpts, or other uses of the above works for the purposes of personal study, research, or appreciation, the following presentation has to be noted “Source: Harbor Overseas.” The company will investigate the relevant legal responsibilities for any violations of the above statements.

 




Footnotes

[1]
Also refers to hyper-globalization. It started in 1990s and could be ended in 2020s. It reflects the deep integration of global politics, economy (including trade, finance, supply chain, and so on), and culture. Its opponents criticized that the super-globalization exacerbates the social unfair and natural environment, as well as giving up the political and economic sovereignty of the states.

[2] According to the countries classification standard by World Bank:

https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank-country-and-lending-groups

[3] The data of the most indicators are collected from 2021 to July 2022, and a few are a bit earlier such as 2019 and 2020.

[4] The overall score is obtained via indicator score multiplies the weights. Because of the rapid development of the information technology, we didn’t set the highest score for each indicator and it remains the space for the technological and institutional progress in the future.

[5]In this report, the Greater China refers to the following four regions of China: the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, Macao Special Administrative Region, China, and Taiwan, China.

2022 Asia Smart City Ranking

Published on: Sep. 27, 2022

Pages: 33

Letters: Approximately 7,500

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