By DR FAHMI NGAH
The Selangor state government sent a small delegation to attend the Barcelona Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), and also to host a Smart Selangor exhibition booth there, from Nov 14-17, 2017.
Selangor state exco for investment, industry, trade and transportation Datuk Teng Chang Khim headed the delegation, together with Datuk Hasan Azhari of Invest Selangor Bhd, and Raja Shahreen Raja Othman, group CEO of the Selangor state investment arm Menteri Besar Selangor Inc (MBI). We were fortunate to have the Raja Muda of Selangor, Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah to officiate our exhibition booth and also to attend proceedings during the four-day international conference.
The SCEWC 2017 had over 17,000 professional visitors, 600 exhibitors, more than 650 cities, and 400 experts and thought leaders.
This is the Selangor state government’s first experience hosting an exhibition booth at this prestigious international event.
Previously, Cyberview staged a similar booth annually to promote the smart city development in Cyberjaya.
Our booth this year was jointly designed by MBI, Smart Selangor Delivery Unit (SSDU), Invest Selangor, Selangor Information Technology and Ecommerce Council (SITEC), Majlis Perbandaran Petaling Jaya (MBPJ), Majlis Perbandaran Sepang (MPSp), KDEB Waste Management Sdn Bhd, Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Central Spectrum Sdn Bhd, as an attempt to encourage trade flows into Selangor, particularly Smart City technologies, and to create awareness to global vendors of our Smart Selangor, Smart State initiatives.
Despite our modest debut, we were pleasantly surprised by the level of interests shown by visitors to assist our Smart Selangor developments that ranged from academics, global technology vendors, smart city advisors, city municipalities, start-ups and also other governments, all involved in either the development or implementation of smart city policies and technologies.
Our booth had wall posters that displayed completed and ongoing initiatives, and two presentation areas to facilitate engagements with booth visitors.
We had back-to-back engagements daily on the first two days, where visitors requested more details on Smart Selangor and its initiatives.
Obviously, it was not too difficult to explain those, once they were made aware of where Selangor was relative to Malaysia and Singapore!
The 600 exhibition booths by cities and vendors mostly displayed smart city technologies and citizen solutions.
It was clear that not many had presented the impact of implementation on its citizens. Perhaps, it is not trivial to quantify the full impact on “quality of life”, despite this being the aim of any smart city implementation.
But, how does one quantify progress in any implementation without being able to measure it? Take “happiness” for example, where scholars are still developing a holistic measure of this.
I believe this will soon be developed as Dubai already has aspirations to become a “happy city”.
This begs the question of how do we position Selangor in all this, be it in the global context, in the Malaysian context and the regional context? Are we merely a follower of others, or perhaps there is room for us to become the thought leader in some niche areas unique to us as a society that is quite diverse economically and culturally?
Having an answer to these is crucial in that, at least it provides us with a direction and clear targets.
It may not be the absolutely correct answer, but at least it provides a clear signal and hope to the people of Selangor that the state leadership is serious in improving their quality of life under the Smart Selangor Smart State programme.
Barcelona had provided us with the possibilities, but in the end, it is up to us to chart our course and continue to deliver impactful initiatives under the Smart State vision as coined by Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali in 2016: “We need a more inclusive and citizen-led ecosystem with greater opportunities, with its people spurring economic growth and innovation that will ensure the rakyat is more involved, and by 2025, a Smart State status will be obtained.”
Clearly, the need to encourage the culture of innovation, which will spur new economic growth, has to be underlined by encouraging a greater degree of involvement and collaboration between the citizens and the government.
Now, that connection between the citizens and government has been made closer through a citizen engagement mobile application called “Community Opinions On-Line” (COOL), developed by the Smart Selangor Delivery Unit.
This application allows the state government to understand citizen sentiment through surveys and also allows the citizens to share local ideas directly with the state government.
Perhaps in 2018, we will be able to share some of our success stories again in Barcelona on how Smart Selangor leverages on successful citizen collaboration in developing the state.
In the end, our Smart State in 2025 should clearly be a true manifestation of the ideas, ideals and aspirations of the Smart citizens of Selangor.
- Dr Fahmi Ngah is the deputy director of Smart Selangor Delivery Unit.