New Zealand and Singapore are leading the way in the most number of smart city initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, according to IDC.

New Zealand has taken out four awards at the 2017 Smart City Asia Pacific Awards (SCAPA), followed by Singapore with three wins. Other winners include Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong and China with two wins each. Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand have been awarded with single wins.

Now on its third year, SCAPA recognises the most outstanding smart city projects in Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) across a total of 14 functional smart city award categories. However, 18 projects were named as the best in APeJ after IDC saw intensified competition in four categories and where a tie was declared. These categories are administration, education, land use and environmental management and smart buildings.

20170808_EDNA_IDC-smart-city-awards (cr) Figure 1: The winners of the 2017 IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards. (Source: IDC)

Gerald Wang, head of IDC Government and Education Insights Asia Pacific, said smart city projects in the region have shown "strong national development focus" in the past year, combining increased "citizen-centric personalisation" with "low investment-high impact" agendas" to attract manpower talents and foreign direct investments.

"This socioeconomic shift towards creating more localised and quality smart city ecosystems are notably influenced by new international and regional trade dynamics. The failure of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and China’s increased efforts to boost its global leadership with endeavours such as the Belt and Road Initiative,' will continue to shape commerce and innovation drive in the region," Wang said.

Earlier this year, IDC identified the following trends that will shape smart city programmes in 2017 and beyond. These include reducing fiscal deficits and socioeconomic debts and managing financial performance; enabling better accountability and transparency as well as strengthened security and privacy protection to citizen stakeholders; revamping economic growth and reducing the social divide that increases risks of crime, risks of housing problems and risks of higher incidence of chronic diseases; coping with demographic changes with critical infrastructure investments, such as the explosion of population in certain parts of Asia and worsening dependency ratios; and provisioning for economic competitiveness where there is a notable increase in transnational competition for securing foreign direct investments and attracting the right mix of manpower talents to build and transform the local industries.

“The above-mentioned trends still hold true with many Asia Pacific smart city programs today. Functionally, beyond the notable focuses of public safety and transportation over the past years, we are also seeing more investments in other smart city functions such as education, connected health, land use and environmental management, smart buildings as well as administration. This signals notable efforts by city governments and planners to build better local competencies and improve local liveability standards, thereby reinforcing how Asia Pacific smart cities are the next-beacon of growth for national socioeconomic sustainability,” said Wang.