Thailand calls on private industry to help the drive towards Smart Cities
Thailand is currently implementing a Smart City initiative. The goal is to develop smart cities across the country in a manner that helps provinces develop according to their economic needs.
Phuket was the pilot city of the project, funded by the equivalent of US$11 million to begin developing a digital economy. The development of Chiang Mei is starting in 2017, with a starting budget of US$1 million, to be followed by Khon Kaen in 2018, with an initial budget of US$425,000. The Smart City initiative is a key part of the Thai government’s plan to move towards a digital economy. Phuket and Chiang Mei have been designated as intended super-clusters; investment centres for high-tech businesses.
The development of Phuket as a Smart City demonstrated to the government that collaboration with the private sector is an essential prerequisite to the project’s success. According to Digital Economy and Society Minister, Pichet Durongkaveroj:
Smart cities cannot be developed by only the state, as their development requires massive funds. […] The private sector should collaborate and jointly use information in an innovative way to develop smart cities and tackle major challenges.
As a result, the Thai government has called on private industry to form companies devoted towards city development, asset management and innovation, in order to support and accelerate the country’s progress in carrying out the Smart City initiative. Local governments will be provided with the funds needed to support this process and foster public/private collaboration. This approach is expected to ensure that the project continues on schedule in case of delays in public funding, and to promote long-term investment and long-term continuity in Smart City operations.