What smart communities are up against

Huawei has launched its Customer Solution Innovation & Integration Center (CSIC) in Cyberjaya, which was inaugurated by Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Salleh Said Keruak.

He also said that the CSIC which aggregates over 120 global reference applications and services from Huawei’s clients and research and development, would serve not only as a platform for Huawei to showcase the latest ICT applications, but it was also “…an innovation centre to enable Malaysian telecom operators to test new business models and to foster applications and services in a real network environment.”

But no IT deployment is without its challenges and at least for Malaysia and more specifically their trialling of a smart community in Kemaman, Trengganu, regulator MCMC shared that these challenges are identifying stakeholders and the roles they play in realising a smart community.

The Chief Digital Ecosystem Officer at MCMC, Mohd. Ali Hanafiah Mohd. Yunus said, “We first have to identify stakeholders, local authorities, head of the community and try to convey to them about the benefits.”

He also shared how besides basic broadband infrastructure, applications that sit on top of the Internet infrastructure have to take into account the community and be relevant for it.

Policy and regulation

Huawei’s Southern Pacific Region CIO, Barry Lerner posed a pertinent question about what the policies and regulations around technologies being deployed for smart cities, should look like.

In the opinion of Boston Consulting Group’s Principal, Amane Dannouni, it really depends on what technologies deployments are looking at. He did observe that the digital economy is looking at architectural principals when it came to IT implementation, and loosely divided it into three layers: infrastructure, data enablement and services.

“The infrastructure layer requires more direct intervention (by policy makers) to encourage sharing and fair access, while at the services layer it is about unlocking hurdles, encouraging trial and error and innovation, helping people fall and then succeed, quickly.”

“At the data layer, standards play a big role in (enabling) interaction and making data accessible on a wide scale,” Dannouni said.

He cited the example of the European Union (EU), where there is region-wide directive to standardise digital identification (ID) as a way to authenticate financial transactions, across countries in the EU.

ASEAN-wide smart community benefit?

MCMC’s chief digital officer had also alluded to MCMC working on an ASEAN-wide smart community project. A project of that scale would need a slew of applications that would involve every nation’s infrastructure, applications and data to be shared and to interoperate, in order for the whole region’s community to achieve convenience, at least.

Already, the Association of Southeast Asia Nations wants to realise synergies by collaborating and forming an ASEAN economic region, not unlike EU. And for ASEAN to also realise region-wide economic benefit, there has to be true seamlessness and ubiquity of trade and commerce. That requires a similar initiative like the EU’s digital ID.

Dannouni explained, “It is a way to make banking and e-commerce transactions secure.” He also opined, “If two countries like Singapore and Malaysia lead the way, the rest of ASEAN may follow.”

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