Top 5 Smartest Cities in Southeast Asia

Top 5 Smartest Cities in Southeast Asia

Smart cities are developing rapidly and successfully across the Southeast Asia. Many cities started to digitalise some government organizations and public-facing services. During the 32nd ASEAN Summit (March 2018), the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore put forward an ASEAN Smart Cities Network initiative (ASCN), which was approved by all members of the bloc. ASCN main goal is to promote the lifestyle of its ASEAN citizens, using technology as an enabler. Here is the list of 5 smartest cities in Southeast Asia.

Hanoi (Vietnam)

Hanoi has started to work on its smart city planning since 2016. The latter has a population of 7.6 million, Vietnam’s capital aims to be green smart city with sustainable development to improve the life of its citizens by 2030. In the next two years, the country aims to adopt 5G, which will give a great push in the development of the smart city infrastructures in Vietnam’s capital.

Smart City in Vietnam
Smart City in Vietnam

Coming to the education sector, 2,700 schools and universities are making use of an online system where enrolment of data and school reports can easily be done and easily accessible online.

In the transportation sector, the capital is working hard to establish a digital traffic map to reduce commutes and ease traffic congestion. Hanoi as well as Ho Chi Minh City, is utilising the iParking app which is the fastest way for payment from their smartphones and drivers can also find free spaces for parking due to this app.


Singapore won the Smart City 2018 award at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2018 which was held last november in Barcelona. Singapore forefront from major global cities like New York, San Francisco or London due to its autonomous vehicles, use of AI- Artificial Intelligence among others. When it comes to the smart city development, Singapore is placed ahead infront of its neighbours because of its tech-friendly legislation.

Smart City in Singapore, oil color painting
Smart City in Singapore, oil color painting

The next steps that Singapore might take in the future will be the development of autonomous driving innovation to make far reaching changes in mobility. According to IDC data, Singapore is a pioneer in government IT spending among ASEAN countries.

Jakarta (Indonesia)

Jakarta has launched ‘Qlue’ – “the smart city app” which is an AI-powered social media app where the inhabitants can directly report their problems to local government or businesses. The app encourages citizens to complaint about poor or inadequate services as well as promoting civil participation.

In the future, smart city projects of Jakarta will be focusing on the development of OK OTrip (an integrated transit cashless payment system). Thanks to this app, urban mobility can be improved, commutes can be reduced as well as keeping travel affordable.

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

According to a survey by The Economist, 26% of respondents rated Kuala Lumpur as already being a smart city.

Source : The Economist
Source : The Economist

Kuala Lumpur has a mission to be the world class sustainable city by 2020 by implementing ten strategic targets to achieve:

  • Energy efficient spatial structure
  • Sustainable energy system
  • Increasing the share of green employment by 4%.

Mandalay (Myanmar)

The Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) and the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development (DHSHD) have drawn up their first major 25 year urban development plan, for building a smart and green city. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the French Agency for Development (AFD) is collaborating with the city to achieve its vision through the Mandalay Urban Services Improvement Project, which has a goal to improve the water supply system of the city. The International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is also helping the city to achieve a zero-waste society by implementing a waste management strategy. Mandalay is already having an advantage due to the implementation of technology on its streets, a case in point:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) sensors are being used to aid officials keep track of water issues
  • Drones are helping to map the city for drainage system planning
  • Through automated control centres, Traffic congestion is devised and controlled.

Other cities which are in the process of becoming a smart city and create a greener world are:

  • Phuket- a plan to convert the nation’s economy into a digitally powered ecosystem
  • Makassar- aims to provide a sociotechnical solution to develop the city
  • Danang- Danabus launched in 2019, is a public bus in Danang which allows users to control local bus routes from their smartphones
  • Bangkok- focusing on a people-centric approach and promoting sustainability for smarter living
  • New Clark City- planning to be a high-tech green city with autonomous vehicles, drones and robot
  • To conclude, technology just an ‘enabler’ and cannot be a goal in itself. Therefore, it is also important to focus on a people centric approach.

It the list of top 5 smartest cities in the Southeast Asian region. Which one fascinates you the most?

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