Smart Cities in Singapore and China

By Anonymous

In the case “Living PlanIT”, it is the company that proposed to build a “Smart City” that is committed to developing a series of sustainable features including the in-built green infrastructure, the usage of renewable resources and promoting the efficiency of energy and water consumption. Putting all these appealing environment-friendly features aside, this “Smart City” features technologies that integrate and underpin the communications of citizens, business partners and the government. It appears to be the perfect solution aligned with the inevitable trends of urbanization and sustainability. I consider this concept of “Smart City” overly idealized, facing a few significant challenges:

Attract target partners

In the case, Living PlanIT targets leading firms in a variety of fields focusing on electrical and informational engineering. Doubt arises about how to build up such partnerships with these industry leaders in addition to underpinning the bonds among them to create maximum synergies for the project as a whole. Thus, it is essential to come up with clear, both quantitative & qualitative measures to exhibit such synergies and the values they create, which potentially benefit all the business partners internally. This could be one of the points from those people who sense how efficient and scalable the concept of “Smart City” can be.

 Project location

In my opinion, if I were an investor, I would not invest in the proposed project in the case, after reviewing the location profile, supplemented with more detailed macro info about the country of Portugal. It simply is not the right lab site, taking the country’s economic and social positions into account. Even though keen supports from the government may be observed, the company may find more obstacles to persuade both of the partners and financiers that the proposed project site is promising, due to the facts that a) little existing transportation infrastructure from major cities which potentially requires a large amount of investments, and yet constitutes as a key required feature for developments; b) based on Pg.19, the country’s economy is particular weak due to the global recession, and in addition, the industry structure of the country determines that it’s not the right site for this project, as it cannot offer the respective human resources for the development of the project.

However, in Asian countries like Singapore and China, “Smart City” is one of the hottest urban planning concepts. The greatest difference between Living PlanIT and the ones in the aforementioned two countries, as I’d propose, is the initiator of the project, being the company Living PlanIT in the case, whereas the national government in Singapore and China. In the case of Singapore, there is a renowned project called “Mapletree Business City” (referred as “MBC”) by the leading real estate investment group Mapletree, a subsidiary of Temasek, the 100% state-owned enterprise. The MBC is located slightly outside of the city/country’s CBD area, in a renovated industrial park closed to the harbor and some existing residential projects. Featuring all the sustainable designs and technologies proposed in the Living PlanIT case, the MBC is positioned as an integrated office and business park for work, live and play, and has successfully attracted credit tenants such as Deutche Bank, HSBC, Unilever and etc. Whereas in China, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has just proved the list of the first labs for “Smart City” on Jan 29 this year, which consists of 37 cities and more than 50 rural towns, financially supported by the National Bank of Development. Subsequently, the release of the approval will surely be welcomed by the leading technologies firms which are undoubtedly anxious to incorporate with the government on both national and local levels for the developments of such cities.

###

Smart Cities and Bright Locations

by Daniel Nunez Gonzalez

Smart cities expect to reshape the urban experience. The “cloud” will improve the coordination of resources to operate more effectively, reducing pollution and commuting times, and create a stimulating environment for the development of new ideas and technologies. Currently built all over the  world, from Korea to the Middle East, developers in China are envisioning them and councils in Europe are turning to smart cities for differentiation.

Smart cities are ultimately a product of globalization. Corporations,  politicians and planners expect to attract the best and the brightest from all over the world to work in their state-of-the-art office buildings and live in their zero energy sustainable housing. But can smart cities attract this global workforce by themselves, or do they need something else?

Kangbashi New District, commonly known as Ordos, was envisioned in 2003 by the Inner Mongolian autonomous government in China, in order to house one million people. Ordos is in proximity to abundant natural resources like natural gas and coal. The local government invited 100 international  architectural teams to design 100 unique villas, and commissioned MAD Architects [1], China’s most internationally recognized design office, for its Art Museum, opened in 2011. For Ma Yansong, principal architect in charge of the museum, “when we got to the site, it was like the middle of nowhere” [2]. Located 450 miles from Beijing and 170 to Hohhot, the capital of the region, Ordos remains largely unoccupied in fast-urbanizing China [3]. Ordos suffers from cold and very dry winters and hot humid summers, and strong winds, especially in spring.

Milton Keynes was created by the British government in 1967 as one of the “New Towns” to solve the housing shortage in Southern England. Milton Keynes has turned to be a success, expanding rapidly to a population of 248,800. The town is home to the British headquarters of Santander,  Mercedes-Benz and the Open University (Britain’s online public university). For Geoff Snelson, director of strategy and partnerships for Milton Keynes council, “Location is critical” for its growth and development. “The town was deliberately planned to be equidistant from London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge” [4]. Situated in the heart of Buckinghamshire, the wealthiest area in the country outside of London and home to some of the most scenic landscapes in England such as the Chiltern Hills, leafy Milton Keynes is located only 40 minutes away by suburban train to Central London, 25 miles to Luton Airport and roughly 1 hour by car to Heathrow.

How is location important to smart cities? Can smart cities attract this competitive workforce without the appeal of a dull global city behind? Masdar City in Abu Dhabi is in the suburbs of the United Arab Emirates’ capital, conveniently located next to Abu Dhabi International Airport. Songdo in South Korea is handily situated between Seoul and Korea’s major hub, Incheon Airport, to which is linked by a new $1.4-billion, 22-kilometer cable bridge [5]. At first glance, King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia might seem to be in the middle of the desert, but it takes advantage of its prime Red Sea location and the proximity to Jeddah, considered the most cosmopolitan city in the conservative Kingdom; and its airport, the country’s busiest.

Past experience and current developments seem to point that location and  proximity to a major global city and the access to its infrastructures is a fundamental factor for the success of  new cities that envisage competing globally.
[1] http://www.i-mad.com
[2] Murphy, D. “Ordos Museum”, available at: http://www.iconeye.com/news/architecture-%7C-latest-stories/ordos-museum. Last accessed
February 7, 2013.
[3] Barboza, D, “Chinese City Has Many Buildings, but Few People”, The New York Times, first published October 19, 2010. Available at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/business/global/20ghost.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Last accessed February 7, 2013.
[4] Cole, G. “Milton Keynes: success is built on prime location”, Financial Times, first published September 21, 2010. Available at:
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e41d3252-c50f-11df-b785-00144feab49a.html#axzz2JzPzkWC3. Last accessed February 7, 2013.
[5] http://www.incheonbridge.com/