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TRANSFORMING SELANGOR: THE REVOLUTIONARY SMART SELANGOR INITIATIVES

Since 2015, the Selangor State Government has been introducing a slew of initiatives known as Smart Selangor in order to improve and modernize the state. The Smart Selangor Blueprint was introduced in December 2016 and consists of improvements to various aspects of governance, listed below.

  • Smart Governance
  • Smart Energy
  • Smart Water Management
  • Smart Waste Management
  • Smart Development/Infrastructure
  • Smart Digital Infrastructure
  • Smart Transport and Mobility
  • Smart Safety and Security
  • Smart Disaster Management
  • Smart Agriculture
  • Smart Healthcare
  • Smart Education and

Basically, the Smart Selangor initiatives cover all aspects of administration in the state and the main objective is to reach a Smart State status by 2025. The key aim of these initiatives is of course to improve the lives of the common Selangor citizens.

MiBrand magazine was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with the Deputy Director of the Smart Selangor Delivery Unit, Dr Fahmi Ngah to understand more about these initiatives and how it can impact business stakeholders in the state too.

Introduction to the Smart Selangor Initiatives

According to Dr Fahmi, the Selangor State Government is working towards making Selangor a premier Smart State in ASEAN by 2025. Beginning in 2016, four pilot projects are in the works and the executive summary of the blueprint released online for public knowledge.

However, Dr. Fahmi stresses that the blueprint’s details are not final and they are being further refined to include new state initiatives introduced in 2017, such as the ‘Peduli Sihat’ program. These Smart Selangor initiatives are the results of deep and rigorous engagements with the Rakyat or citizens of Selangor whereby the main problems and concerns of the Rakyat were noted down.

At the top of priority list is Smart Governance, whereby Selangor is working towards being more transparent, open and responsive in the way they formulate policies for the people. “Right now, it appears like policies are very much top down, making it appear like these policies cater to those who shout the loudest, rather than who has the right facts and figures to base that policy on” says Dr. Fahmi.

Apart from Smart Governance, there are three other priority domains that the Selangor Government is looking at includes Smart Waste Management, Smart Transport and Mobility and Smart Digital Infrastructure. For the Smart Transport domain, Selangor want to leverage further of their free Bus Selangor program and the Smart Digital Infrastructure program will focus on improving data transfer and machine to machine interaction.

In addition to all the official domain laid out in the 2016 Smart Selangor blueprint, there is also a new domain called Smart Caring Society initiatives, whereby the State is working out how to make the “Peduli  Rakyat” community aid programs more impactful to society and ensure that aid is distributed fairly without overlaps.

In order to make the Smart Selangor initiatives something that is attainable and accessible to the Rakyat, Dr Fahmi stated that they worked hard to incorporate technology through stages of planning and testing pilot projects first before up-scaling them in order to ensure that projects are do-able and won’t burden the common man.

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Why Selangor is Leading the Charge on Smart Initiatives

Another challenge for the Selangor government in the near future is how to use technology to cater to demands of an ever growing population. With the new  Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project in the works and expected to be completed ten years from now, Dr. Fahmi expects Singaporeans to make decisions to stay in the Klang Valley and commute to work on a daily basis.

This means that the Selangor has to be able to foresee the challenges and expectations of the future growth of business and population. Dr Fahmi believes that the State should not just focus on the here and now, and must be able to focus on gathering data on population numbers so that they can prepare to have more forward thinking policies.

One way that the Selangor government is leading the way in technology usage is the utilization of apps to connect with the Rakyat. They recently collaborated with traffic reporting app Waze in order to develop a system where Selangorians can report the position and occurrence of potholes.

These mobile reporting technologies aren’t just limited to the urban areas of Selangor, but are largely utilized by village folk as well. For example, Selangor’s waste management program has a mobile app that allows Selangorians to report piles of rubbish in their neighbourhoods and many rural folk are picking up this app to help keep their villages clean.

Apart from just the apps, Selangorean can use Whatsapp and hotline numbers to report waste management issues too and the State is looking at an integrated system that funnels all complaints to one body of action.

Working Smartly With Federal Agencies

As a State Government, it is inevitable that Selangor has to work with many Federal Government agencies and Dr Fahmi gives the example of Selangor’s roads. Some of these roads are private while some are maintained by state agencies or Federal agencies. When pothole complaints come in through the Waze app, many of these happen on Federal roads, and the state government is looking at how to develop a Smart system for them to communicate with Federal agencies for more money and ways to fix those potholes quickly.

Dr Fahmi gives another example whereby the Selangor state governments employs more sensitive haze sensors compared to the Federal Government sensors and thereby produce data that are more accurate. The challenge therefore is how to use data and the internet of things to pressure the Federal Government for more resources to carry out solutions to problems.

Solving Environmental Issues the Smart Way

Apart from using apps to report road/traffic issues and waste management problems, technology is being used to collect big data in other areas, especially the environment. These environmental data collection boxes measure things like humidity and temperature, and are being installed in the coastal areas of Selangor by the Unit Pengurusan Bencana (Disaster Management Unit) to monitor sea levels for early flood warnings or any other disaster warnings.

Environmental data recording devices can also used to monitor water quality and water levels in the State. The Smart Water Management program is also going to use technology to better detect water leaks, mainly due to cracks in old pipes and loose valves as Selangor is one of the states where water leakage is a major problem. Dr Fahmi has said that the state Government is focusing on delivering clean and uninterrupted water supply to all Selangorians, despite the many infrastructure challenges.

How Will SMEs be impacted by Smart Selangor?

Dr. Fahmi sees the Smart Selangor initiatives as a driving for business in the state, as many of the Smart Selangor programs depend on private businesses to develop technologies. These technologies aren’t strictly limited to being used by the Selangor Government, but can be later marketed for profit. For example, local entrepreneurs are welcomed to offer solutions to the State and collaborate to grow technology to solve the State’s problems and carry out policies.

Another field of opportunities that the Smart Selangor  initiatives is looking at are aerospace technologies, which include the manufacture of drones not just for videography and hobbies, but in agriculture, traffic control and many other uses.

Dr Fahmi also announced two projects under the Smart Selangor initiative where SMEs can get involved, one of which the rejuvenation of the Klang river from Klang town all the way to Port Klang, an area which is in dire need of development. The other project would be to develop the State land around Cyberjaya called Greenfield Smart City in order to showcase new technologies and how it helps modern living.

Dr Fahmi expressed his opinion regarding the importance of a Central River Authority when it comes to the rejuvenation of the Klang River. This Central River Authority able to provide strong and firm leadership or coordinate the different government agencies and companies involves so that everyone works together in a cohesive manner without being fearful about the future. In this respect he also says “The Federal Government needs to be bolder with these new ideas (of central administration and technology) and not rely on old constructs.”

The Costs of Smart Cities

In terms of spending, Dr. Fahmi  does not deny that Smart Cities cost a lot. However, he stresses that money will be spent on important and legitimate matters that greatly impact the lives and livelihoods of Selangorians as a whole. He also reiterates that as an open, accountable and responsible, the Selangor Government is dedicated to ensure legitimate source of money comes in for this projects through a restructuring of expenditures and such.

Another option for resources to carry out Smart City initiatives is to form alliances with other smart cities, and the World Bank, and take advantage of mutually beneficial programs that will cost almost nothing at all.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Efforts to provide free Wifi in Selangor have resulted in the setting of Wifi Selangorku, but the project has only been deployed in the urban areas thus far. In this respect Dr. Fahmi is leveraging on the opportunities offered by federal agencies like Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission [MCMC]  who are planning to install some form of wireless telephone technology connectivity in rural areas. Here, the state is open to putting politics aside and seeing how Federal agencies can come in and collaborate in making people’s lives better.

In fact, the Smart Selangor initiative is needs based and not race based. In terms of deployment, they are agnostic and are working towards monitoring data on how to better serve the needs of the “rakyat”. For example, aid agency Institute “Peduli Rakyat” under the state government gives medical aid and their beneficiaries are recorded, allowing administrators to identify problem areas and epidemic areas where solutions can be delivered.

Dr Fahmi is also concerned about the State’s policy on big data, and expressed his opinion that policies should be set out soon by the state government of whether big data should be utilized only within the confines of Selangor or be allowed to go beyond that. He also mentioned how the Smart Selangor policies will adopt and encourage the use of internet of things and Industry 4.0 among local SMEs. However, all these are still in the planning stage and would require more solid planning and details.

Apart from SMEs, Dr Fahmi  feels encourages that even farmers and fishermen and responding well to Smart technology initiatives by the government, such as the use of GPS by the fishermen in Sabak Bernam to improve their fishing strategies and yield.

Although the initiatives are still in the initial stage, the effects of the Smart Selangor programs are beginning to create ripple effects in the state. Dr Fahmi is confident that they are knowledgeable and capable enough to develop a Smart State that is strongly impacts the Rakyat, while working with the Rakyat.

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