If COLOMBO is to be a Smart City – A Framework


By K. A. I. Kalyanaratne

Management Consultant

Postgraduate Institute of Management

Determinants of a Smart City

The word ‘smart’has now gained prominence from what it had been a few years ago. Any item that is multi-functional and found to be capable of using the resources more productively goes with this epithet. Smart phones and smart televisions are two familiar examples. Accordingly, a smart city is expected to coordinate the multiple functions of an urban enclave, while making use of its resources productively.

A city is a ‘living organism’ which normally grows and expands functionally, geographically as well as demographically. However, when they become functionally complex with a resultant overgrowth in extent, functions and population, an ingenious method of coordination has been brought in applying smarter methods to manage the key components. The current literature on the management of urban areas reflects that there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people. The conceptualization of smart cities, therefore, differs from city to city and from country to country, depending on the (i) level of development, (ii) willingness to change and reform, (iii) resource-availability and limitations, as well as (iv) the aspirations of the city dwellers.

The concept has now been specifically targeted to revolve around the people, focused on three goals, namely, (i) quality of life of residents, migrant workers and visitors, (ii) economic competitiveness to attract industry and talent, and (iii) an environmentally conscious focus on sustainability.While technology enables much of what makes a city "smart,"like sensors, data analytics, etc., the future really isn't about technology as an end itself, but rather serving the needs of the various stakeholders that comprise a community. Using technology to solve social problems while improving quality of life is truly the definition of "smart."

Jakarta Smart City – Model to Emulate

The writer who had an exposure to the working of the Jakarta Smart City (JSC) established in 2014,considers it as an idealmodel that one may study as the original Jakarta City had been inherently plagued with the common ills many an eastern cities including Colombo has been suffering from. The JSC is practically information-based, and it works on the premise that it is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources of the city efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that are processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, environmental pollution, power plants, street lighting, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services and amenities.

This concept integrates information and communication technology, and various physical devices connected to the network (the Internet of Things or IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services. Further, this technology allows city administrators and officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure, and to continuously monitor what is happening, and provide instant solutions, wherever possible.


Jakarta Smart City Office: Citizens’ single point of contact

Six Fundamentals on which Jakarta Smart City Operates

The central mission of the JSC under the Jakarta Provincial Government is to realize this smart city vision, based on excessively data driven, transparent and collaborative use of technology to ensure better public services for residents in the Indonesian capital. The total JSC concept encapsulates the six fundamentals on which the city operates, namely, (i) Smart Governance, (ii) Smart People, (iii) Smart Living, (iv) Smart Mobility,(v) Smart Economy, and (vi) Smart Environment, with maximum involvement of the community. In fact, the JSC is a people- centered project.

Continuous Awareness Programmes for City Dwellers

JSC works on a policy of reciprocity. The citizens are expected to involve in the affairs of the JSC, provide the necessary information if they are to reap the benefits. Thus city dwellers and smart city operation are interdependent and interwoven. The city dwellers are, therefore. educated, guided and encouraged to participate freely to offer suggestions as well as to bring in any complaints that will result in the city’s continuous improvement. In fact, programmes are being conducted on public holidays for different groups of the community as well as for school children. These also include special programmes on fire-fighting and emergency evacuation processes.

Hence, the JSC rests basically on the two pillars of (i)IoT (Internet of Things) and (ii) maximum participation of its people. Citizens can use a platform referred to as BERiDE, interactive mobile app,designed for them to convey their ideas to the authorities for smart city development. They are also provided with a complaint handling application (Qlue) which aims to synergize government and citizens, and turn complaints into actionable insights.

People visiting the JSC is a daily feature as their involvement

determines the success of the project.

JSC has leveraged on the vast technical expertise of the global technology giant (IBM), to design a big data-hub which would integrate information from citizen feedback, social networks and government services like healthcare, transport and water distribution. The data provided will then be analysed using the latest analytical, predictive modeling and analysis tools in order to produce more efficient policies to facilitate smart city development.

Some of the Key Elements

Some of the key elements of Smart Cities include:

Smart, Sustainable Electricity - Data and information that give people the power to conserve and manage energy.

Smart Street Lighting - Lighting that turns on or off based on the presence of vehicles and people.

Smart Energy - Integration of Technology with Energy helping optimizing power production, improving grid management, and providing effective distribution of energy production.

Smart Transportation –Facilitating easy movement of goods, and travel management for people, and reducing pollution and accidents, and promoting a healthier life.

Interactive Signs - Displays and signs that provide information, directions and help when needed.

Smart Water Systems - from leak detection to smart sprinkler systems to conserve and manage water.

Smart Buildings - smart heating and cooling, ventilation, and lighting systems.

Housing Solutions - affordable, efficient, and sustainable housing for all citizens.

Ubiquitous Wifi - availability of wireless internet anywhere and everywhere.

Smart Data–Collecting the massive data related to various amenities used by the population. Installing the data on a portal, and publishing it at an online platform helps predictive analysis to define future patterns.

Device Connectivity - Sensors embedded into IoT devices collecting the useful data that can be analyzed to gain relevant insights.With the support of IoT, complex city systems facilitate exchanging and managing the information quickly in real-time.

Smart Mobility - Seamless movement of data amongst numerous administrative and municipal systems is highly encouraged and boosted.

Smart Infrastructure - Smart infrastructure offers big data analytics that helps in better planning and proactive maintenance for future.

Smart Parking - Smart parking enables the city to earn a higher profit by utilizing the same parking space frequently. The spaces can be utilized up to their fullest capacity.

Smart Waste Management - Implementation of smart waste management solution enables the city to reduce costs by installing sensors inside the bins. It helps in monitoring the level of trash in each bin, and emptying them when they are full.

Smart Elimination of Environmental Pollution – Measures taken to minimize the different kinds of environmental pollution that affect the health of the people. The different kinds of pollutions, inter alia, the JSC is concerned with are: (i) Air Pollution (ii) Land Pollution (iii) Light Pollution (iv) Noise Pollution (v) Thermal Pollution (vi) Visual Pollution, and (vii) Water Pollution.

Colombo’s Future and the

Colombo Port City

The prominence given to the Colombo Port City (CPC) in the country’s development strategy, and the gradual upcoming of the basic infrastructures therein have earned numerous epithets to the project. It has already been referred to as a world-class city in South Asia, that will surpass such cities as Hong Kong and Dubai in its functional ability. The main intention of providing this preamble is to emphasize the fact that the city of Colombo will also gain prominence much beyond its current status as it will invariably be the ‘heartland’ for the new CPC. It is envisaged that Colombo will need to accommodate more and more functions, and the necessary backup population to feed and service the ever increasing demands of the CPC. Colombo will also gain focal attraction to induce a daily migrant population. Based on the statistics of 2018, the metropolitan Colombo already has a population of more than 5.6 million residents.

Further justification for Making Colombo a Smart-Conscious City

A further justification for prioritizing to make Colombo a smart-conscious city is the unplanned development that has taken place thus far, making the city both environmentally unfriendly and unhealthy. While a planned city corresponds roughly to a top-down approach, an unplanned city often displays a bottom-up approach. In this category development is mostly based on spontaneous and instant urgencies, and decision-making being more often on personal/political inclinations.

Such cities ultimately become unhealthy and unhygienic for settlement. It is, therefore, high time that Colombo is saved from such short-sighted approaches.

The general consensus among city planners worldwide is that the basic criterion for determining a smart city is an urban enclave having a population of over 10 million. Jakarta’s population is around this cut off point. However, it does not mean that Colombo with a population of nearly 6 million people doesn’t justify developing it to a smart city.

Nexus between Colombo and the Port City

It is said that cities are different and so are solutions. It is envisaged that the Colombo Port City once in full gear will change drastically the profile of the current Colombo – city. With enhanced urbanization and the expanding migrant population to provide the much needed human resource base for the CPC, the Colombo city demands a complete overhaul especially in the areas of transportation and facilities cum amenities. It would, therefore, seems prudent to prioritize re-engineering the city-management process, as repercussions from delayed actions will be highly repercussive. Transforming a population to adjust to the smart-city requirements, as well as training and developing the city-dwellers to become responsible ‘live-sensors’ that provide vital information is an arduous task. This transformation includes alerting citizens and government officials to a new culture of interactivity with the city-centre.

Smart Cities Need Smart Governments

It goes without saying that operating smart cities becomes a myth unless they are backed by smart governments. Establishing a smart city is a meticulously planned out operation backed by a continuous process of information updating, monitoring and analyzing as well as utilizing the statistical end-products for adoption and execution. In fact, it is a highly skilled operation that demands men of the highest caliber in the specialties around which the total operation is revolved. Decisions depend on long-term strategizing as every decision is critical to the ultimate productivity of the composite machinery. In this backdrop it is paramount that the operation of a smart city should be strictly and purely apolitical.

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