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Taiwan Business

Smart cities: reshaping industry

Smart cities are being created around the world and those on the island are at the forefront of development

As the world continues to see an explosion of technological advances, the possibilities for innovation and development have never been greater.

One of these developments is smart cities – the idea that public services such as schools, libraries, transport systems, hospitals and even power plants, are linked via information and communications technology (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to increase efficiency and better meet residents’ needs.

The island is turning this idea into a reality, and in doing so it is attracting global attention as it builds intelligent-driven networks with a huge number of smart applications.

The island has long dominated the traditional ICT industry, which in the past was driven by ICT manufacturing.

But with the world changing fast, traditional ICT has struggled with revenue creation. However, things could change with the coming of the IoT era; with the island’s rich experience and the backbone of infrastructure in ICT manufacturing, its ICT industry can actively search for undeveloped business in the so-called “blue ocean” of smart cities.

Transforming industry

The island aims to reshape and modernise existing industries by channelling more resources into smart technologies, including smart devices, health care, securities, logistics and transport.

One of the larger industries being transformed is energy. In 2016 the island set an ambitious goal of a “nuclear-free homeland” by 2025, which signals a notable policy shift towards accelerating the growth of renewable energy, implementing a strict energy-saving programme and expanding  the capacity of traditional power plants, all with IoT playing an important role.

As this traditional infrastructure begins to age and the island enters a post-industrial phase, industrial safety management is among the most important issues. This is encouraging policy-makers to consider working with local operators to construct petrochemical pipeline leak detection systems under the management of the Office of Pipeline Safety.

What is the Internet of Things?

IoT, as it is also known, is essentially the connection of physical devices via the internet; things such as vehicles, appliances and buildings that are embedded with software and sensors that enable them to collect and exchange data with us, applications and each other.

Left to right: Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, Florida, United States; Asaf Zamir, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, Israel; Christophe Ferrari, President of Grenoble-Alpes Metropolis, France; Jonathan Tsang, Vice Chairman of ASUS and President of ASUS group

Bringing ideas to fruition

To make the concept of smart city a reality, the infrastructure of the low power wide area network (LPWAN) is indispensable.

Among all LPWAN technologies, Sigfox and LoRa are the two most progressive. Taipei City plans to showcase its LoRa network infrastructure in the second half of 2017 at the 2017 Universiade and 2017 World Congress on Information Technology.

LoRa’s biggest competitor, Sigfox, aims to cover six special municipal cities before mid-2017 and finish its insular coverage by the first quarter of 2018.

Meanwhile, Taipei City is promoting various IoT applications; the popular bike-sharing system, YouBike, the EasyCard mobile payment services and Edimax’s pollution monitoring system AirBox are all on their way to being replicated globally.

Furthermore, with an ageing population, it is believed that more than 5,000 citizens in public housing will receive better smart electricity services and water supply systems as part of smart solutions for the senior health care programme.

In addition, the island’s highly successful electronic toll collection (ETC) technology that was set up in 2012 is set to expand, as intelligent transportation becomes a reality.

IoT deployments on a larger scale, including smart parking, smart mobile payments and smart vehicles, will not only bring new momentum to cities but also generate large quantities of data that will be processed and analysed in real time. This means that the authorities will be able to collect all the data they need to redesign public transport systems.

Profits in the traditional ICT industry are falling each year and the island’s ICT industry is facing considerable uncertainty. However, IoT and smart cities open up a brand new avenue of innovation.

While these new trends come with new challenges, they also represent new opportunities that the island intends to grab with both hands.

The island aims to reshape and modernise existing industries by channelling more resources into smart technologies.

Case study: Taipei Computer Association and Smart City Summit & Expo.

The Taipei Computer Association (TCA) is the island’s leading industry association. Its 4,000 members engage in the various fields of manufacturing and sales of software, hardware, semiconductors and components, and network communication services. It aims to bring together organisations and individuals who share the same vision to drive the development of the IoT and smart cities.

TCA’s services include exhibitions, business delegation, professional certification, legal advice and lobbying, e-learning, industry information and training.

Together with ICT leaders IBM Taiwan, Tatung Company, Chunghwa Telecom, Asus Cloud, Advantech, the Information Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and the Institute for Information Industry (III), TCA created the Taiwan Smart Solution Alliance (TSSA) in early 2014.

The TSSA, along with TCA and the City of Taipei, are organising the Smart City Summit & Expo, which is an annual trade show for IoT solutions. The Smart City Summit and Expo will take place 21-24 February 2017 in Taipei City.