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Cyberview: Powering Malaysia’s first Smart City

For years now, the term ‘smart city’ has been bandied about by many but there wasn’t any real consensus as to what really defines a smart city.

Deloitte, for example, defines a smart city as having “investments in human and social capital, traditional infrastructure and disruptive technologies that fuel sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance.”

The consulting firm goes on to add that smart cities exist at the intersection of digital technology, disruptive innovation and urban environments. They are an exciting place to work and live in and the breeding ground for new ideas.

While there are many definitions that may exist - and most of them are not wrong in themselves - the crux of these definitions includes four vital elements: the social, technological, economical and sustainable angles, all aimed at improving the quality of lives of a smart city’s inhabitants.

As a pioneer of managing one such smart city in Malaysia, Dato’ Faris Yahaya, Managing Director of Cyberview Sdn Bhd, believes that no matter what the definition of a smart city may be, it must breathe and thrive on innovation as a way of life and utilise information and communications technology (ICT), as well as Internet technology to address urban challenges contributing to greater success and a better quality of life.
In that sense, Cyberjaya, which is wholly managed by Cyberview, as a smart city was developed on the basis of 4 strategic pillars.

●    Strong ICT Network Infrastructure - High-speed fiber optic broadband & solid Wi-Fi coverage

●    Integrated Operating Platform - Enable greater connectivity, sharing and scalability

●    Innovative Smart City Solutions - Creating a conducive environment to nurture the development of smart solutions in the areas of Environment, Infrastructure, Economy and Social

●    Partnerships and Collaborations - Establishing the right partnerships for the Smart City, both public and private

“Based on these, Cyberjaya as a smart city provides valuable solutions and services aimed at increasing the efficiency of public services and city living, thereby creating a safe city,” Faris says.
Going smart early

Though still a nascent concept, Malaysia was relatively early in getting into the smart city game, Faris says, adding that the country is blessed with leaders who had forward thinking vision to plan and implement smart cities very early on.

For starters, the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley (Greater KL) was designated as a National Key Economic Area (NKEA) under Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). This designation allowed KL greater government support for business and investment as the country seeks to transform into a high-income nation by 2020.

Faris said that Cyberjaya, a suburb about 50km southwest of KL, also benefits from various points of connectivity and is located in the middle of the city centre and the KL International Airport and is connected by five major expressways linking from major towns and cities.

“As a hotspot in the Greater KL southern region, Cyberjaya is part of an exciting opportunity for unprecedented commercial and employment opportunities and we have put in place all the measures earlier discussed to facilitate access to these opportunities.

“We have an opportunity to reimagine mobility, not just connectivity. And it all goes back to realising the vision of a smart city that is not hindered or limited by having to consider a mature city environment the advantage that we have in the urban planning of all 7,000 acreages of this tech city.”

Besides the physical and geographical advantages, Cyberjaya also has the potential to become a reliable channel and highway of resource for entrepreneurs and technology companies to take advantage of nascent technologies such as the Internet of Things or IoT.

IoT is defined as a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

“Under the National Strategic Roadmap with the IoT plan launched, any technology innovator can develop and expand their IoT solutions in Cyberjaya and reap the benefits of our existing programmes to chart impressive business results,” Faris says.

Additionally, Faris notes that Cyberjaya is one of two cities spearheading the way as a pioneer green township with a goal to cut carbon emissions in the city by 21% by the year 2020.

To achieve this, a Low Carbon City Framework was formulated to align and mobilise green efforts, covering urban environment, urban transportation, urban infrastructure and building.

“In taking Cyberjaya’s successes to the next level towards becoming Malaysia’s capital of creation, we have identified two pillars for years to come that will uphold this aspiration – the creation of Cyberjaya as a smart city and its position as a ‘living lab’ for smart city solutions.”
Differentiating itself

One of the challenges of building and running a smart city is that many other cities, particularly in neighbouring Singapore, will undoubtedly compete with Cyberjaya for investments.

Quizzed as to how Cyberview is unique when compared to its competitors, Faris says as Malaysia’s capital of creation and a fast moving/bustling global tech hub, Cyberjaya is where entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, industries and partners take innovative technology ideas and grow them into game-changing enterprises capable of competing on the global scene.

Faris believes that Cyberjaya’s unique selling point is that it enables creative collaboration for businesses and individuals that are centered on a technology ecosystem where small companies can cluster around a core of larger companies. 

Large local enterprises can remain competitive and renew their technology stock by accessing new technologies invented by smaller start-ups around them in the ecosystem, he argues.

He also says cost savings can be achieved when these start-ups are engaged in solving issues.

Investee companies, in turn, can leverage the organisational resources of their corporate partners to overcome barriers to commercialisation, and access networks and expertise to go global, Faris explains.

“Our goal is to provide a holistic environment that allows innovation to thrive — catering to the needs of the entire technology community with a tech-focused ecosystem.

To help Cyberjaya along, Faris says Cyberview will continue to champion its main incentives under the Living Lab programs to grow the smart city ecosystem. This comprises:

●     Living Lab Talent: Focuses on grooming talent from the young and impressionable to aspiring university students. The Lab works with academia on the supply and quality of talents to meet the requirements of the ecosystem;

●   Living Lab Accelerator: Looks into expediting innovation of technology solutions to the next level through intensive coaching, networking and marketing programmes;

●    Living Lab Pilot: Work towards providing a platform to test and validate proof of concepts and prototypes fit for commercialisation; and

●    Living Lab Enterprise: Helps connecting businesses with profitable partnerships and giving it a boost it needs to thrive, with essential business and digital skill training, industry updates, technical up-skilling, funding access facilitations and market access.

Despite all these efforts, Faris concedes that growth, cost and funding are still the biggest challenges in developing a smart city.

In trying to address these challenges, Faris says that while Cyberview has identified emerging challenges and strategic opportunities for the city, it has also put in place the drivers and enablers that will open up opportunities for technology advancement.

“We create conducive conditions and platforms for attracting and accelerating investment and also provide recommendations and overall guidance and directions to the initiatives,” he explains.

“More than that, there are also over a hundred passionate souls in Cyberview who are committed to this vision of bringing to life Cyberjaya as a Capital of Creation – a smart city that breathes and thrives on innovation as a way of life. Attracting the right population, be it tech companies or academia can only happen with the culture of innovation that we are cultivating here in Cyberjaya. Its people will ultimately ensure the sustainability of Cyberjaya as a smart city.”
Source: InvestKL, 10 October 2016