A mayor’s wishlist for Subang Jaya
During Huawei Connect 2018 in Shanghai, Noraini Roslan, shared that the city she is Mayor of, Subang Jaya, aspires to be a smart and sustainable city.
At the sidelines of Huawei’s annual event, she explained the city’s vision saying that, “It’s our strategic plan for 2030, and we have outlined 5 core strategies, or action plans, to help us reach that.”
She added that these core strategies revolve around good governance, mobility and connectivity, infrastructure and amenities, urban services, human development and also sustainable physical development.
As a Mayor, a role which also carries the responsibilities of President of the Municipal Council of Subang Jaya (MPSJ),Noraini said, “Coming here to this exhibition, opens up my horizons as to what other cities are doing or will be doing in order to leverage tech to make cities smarter.”
Beyond being a smart city, it’s really about creating a city that is good to live in, a city that is progressive for businesses, and that people want to go to.
A few solutions caught the Mayor’s eye.
One is the traffic management solution that can measure congestion in the city, control the traffic light system, and even detect and recognise vehicle license plates; this vehicle plate recognition solution would go a long way in detecting cars, not to mention car owners with expired documents and/or prior traffic offences.
Another solution she mentioned is the command centre for decision makers like herself that will let her see the overall picture/health of the city. “Subang Jaya already has a Geographical Information System (GIS) database, which can be displayed in a convenient dashboard for easy viewing.
“A city comprises of many departments and many segments, so as a mayor, I need to see it all in one page.”
With all-important GIS information that can present spatial geographical data, other layers of information can be placed on top to enable many applications related to engineering, planning, telecommunications, businesses and more.
A single view of all the pertinent information that she needs, can facilitate analysis and enable more resoonsive informed decisions.
Having a system that unifies information and services from other departments ensures optimised resources. But what about extending this integration to beyond the city of Subang Jaya and the state of Selangor?
Noraini shared, “Selangor as a state has a few connected systems along with a dashboard for the whole state. But right now, it is only measuring a few things, namely emergency and disasters, land matters, special planning and water management.”
For example when it comes to disaster and emergencies, the recent mining pool incident in Puchong, had seen coordinated efforts from Shah Alam and Port Klang fire departments.
“This is one example of cooperation between local authorities that is enabled by technology. Through that system, Puchong was able to reach out to the other fire departments (to carry out search and rescue operations),” Noraini said,
Water management has a state-level system that is connected, although it is not connected to KL, so the picture isn’t complete. Other than for water, land, planning and emergencies, there is not much information-sharing between municipalities, much less state authorities.
This is largely due to concerns about data security, the mayor had observed.
She commented, “Everybody is in silos, so integration now is very much needed, since now the ability to process big data and securing data can be guaranteed somewhat.
“There are concerns about data security, but if the government can address that I believe we can share this data and optimise our respective resources.”
Securing crime-prone areas
Despite the challenge of silo-ed information, Noraini pointed out that some issues are under a federal jurisdiction.
For example trying to build a city that is women-friendly, requires talking with police departments that have data about crime-prone areas.
Having this information can help with planning out a network of surveillance cameras, and also designating the areas that require heavier police patrolling.
“Our enforcement officers are equipped with smart phones that can help with generating reports while on-the-move. These reports are sent back to the command centre where necessary action can be taken immediately.
“We are working with Subang police to identify the hotspots and there are a couple of things to do. First, installing cameras at these areas, linking it with our command centre in Subang Jaya… and we are also thinking of getting a small monitoring system at Subang Jaya police premises, so they can keep tabs as well,” Noraini shared.
The Mayor who has to oversee revenue and expense for the city, emphasises optimisation of resources and cost-efficiency. To that end, she shared that all of MPSJ’s financial systems have been integrated, so she can keep tabs on in-flows, out-flows and ultimately plan better.
“In our 2019 budget, we have reduced percentage of operating expenditure while increasing budget for development expenditure.”
In this regard, she recognises the importance of technology like sensors and analytics to measure the use of resources like electricity. “If I can reduce our electricity usage by let’s say 10-percent, that’s savings that can go into development and urban services.”
She also recognises the importance of good Internet connectivity and upon finding out that Malaysia’s incumbent energy provider, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has fibre optic cables, she expressed her wish to open the lines of communications with TNB so as to leverage their infrastructure.
“We are still working on (improving) Selangor’s free WiFi service and we rely on it for our employee’s mobile productivity.”
Noraini said, “Having this smart city vision, making the staff understand what we are trying to achieve and having the technology and also the financial ability to make it all happen,… all these need to be in tandem.”
She recognises the rapid progress of technology and the importance of staying on the cutting edge, while being cost-effective when it comes to technology spending. “To keep track of all of these, is some of the challenges we have to stay ahead of.”
Besides security and safety, what could be called a technology priority for Subang Jaya currently, is updating data about its assets and resources – buildings, street lights, vehicles, personnel, and many more that can be fed into that one dashboard mentioned earlier in the article, so that she can have a more complete view of the city she governs.
The first female Mayor of Subang Jaya concluded, “In anything we do, it’s the outcome we place importance on.”
(This journalist is a guest of Huawei’s to their annual conference in Shanghai).