Asia Pacific survey of residents in Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Melbourne seeks their opinions on smart city success factors and differentiators
Improved access to capital and incentives to start a business or invest in research and development (R&D) are among key smart city differentiators, according to over 70 percent of polled residents in Hong Kong and Shanghai, finds a new KPMG survey.
The report, titled Connected Cities – Citizen insights across Asia Pacific features findings from a survey of 4,192 residents in Hong Kong, Melbourne, Seoul, Shanghai, and Singapore. Published in association with CLP Holdings, JOS, Siemens, the Smart City Consortium and Wilson Group, the survey seeks their opinions on the smart city development areas that are most important to them as well, as what benefits they expect as their cities become ‘smarter’. It takes a detailed look at progress and key development actions needed in six key areas: transportation and mobility, building a future-focused workforce, living environment, healthcare, energy and resources and technology solutions.
Overall, residents across the five cities identified creating a better living environment with thoughtful urban planning and design as the number one most important development area, cited by 51 percent of those polled. This is followed by improving access and delivery of healthcare for residents as the second most important priority for cities’ development overall, named by 49 percent of respondents in the five cities (including 51 percent in Hong Kong). Transportation and mobility is the third most important development priority (cited by 43 percent of all respondents), closely followed by developing a future-focused workforce, also a leading priority for all five of the cities listed (40 percent overall).
Julian Vella, ASPAC Regional Head of Global Infrastructure Advisory and Co-Head of China Infrastructure, KPMG China, says: “The survey findings highlight that an overarching goal for smart development in Asia-Pacific cities is to improve liveability for residents. People don't just want a connected city, but a city that serves them well and able to handle the challenges it faces. Technology plays a vital role in this, and will do so even more in coming years as cities roll out digital solutions for everything from transport to payments to public services.”
Residents’ preferred measures to support entrepreneurs were largely consistent among the five cities polled; however, the cities differed in their top choices. In Shanghai, residents polled felt more strongly about the need to ease business registration processes to support the entrepreneurship ecosystem, with 70 percent citing it as a key area of improvement. In Seoul, 74 percent of respondents, a higher number compared to other cities surveyed, mentioned tax incentives to start a business as a key factor. Residents in Melbourne were more mixed about the key improvement needed, favouring access to capital, tax incentives and mentoring programmes as their top three choices. In Hong Kong, the standout action is improved access to capital and funding (77 percent).
To encourage an innovation culture, most respondents in Hong Kong and Shanghai indicated that education programmes that encourage independent thinking, creativity and risk-taking are key, in line with the other cities surveyed. This is followed by R&D incentives, and funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
“Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, including a strong network of incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces will help contribute to cities’ start-up ecosystems,” says Eric Yeung, President, Smart City Consortium. “The collaboration initiative of Greater Bay Area cities also gives Hong Kong entrepreneurs new opportunities to expand the market and further develop their business, especially for smart city related technologies. We are looking forward to more government policy to support Hong Kong young entrepreneurs developing and expanding their business to the GBA.”
Meanwhile, in order to build a better living environment, “availability of affordable housing” stands out as the No. 1 priority in Hong Kong (63 percent), almost double that of Shanghai (33 percent). In Shanghai, a large portion of residents polled mentioned the need for more parks and green space as well as improvement of recycling and waste management infrastructure. Singapore residents surveyed are especially concerned about making their living environment more accommodating for the elderly and disabled, while reducing pollution is a key concern for Seoul respondents.
In terms of preferred actions to improve living environment, Hong Kong respondents noted that improvements in land use are needed – including redevelopment of underused land and updating or renovating ageing buildings. In Shanghai, a key action mentioned by respondents is encouraging construction of green buildings and development of green building standards.
In addition, as populations age and workforces shrink, improving healthcare delivery and access is an increasingly urgent priority. In Shanghai in particular, 57 percent of respondents cited it as the most important development area for the success of a city, highest among the five cities polled. Across the board, respondents want to see a greater emphasis on preventative healthcare, such as check-ups, immunisations and health education. In Hong Kong, nearly half of residents polled cited the need for greater cooperation between the public and private sector on healthcare initiatives.
Respondents in Singapore, Shanghai and Melbourne also listed this as a top priority. Shanghai residents also cited the need to improve predictive healthcare applications that can utilise data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve treatment.
Vella concludes: “To build a liveable smart city, cities must address long-standing problems, they should pay particular attention in putting liveability and quality of life at the heart of all smart city development and investment plans; expanding the use of data and analytics to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery; placing a greater emphasis on sustainability and resilience, and ensuring these are core parts of project planning and development.”
“Smart cities need smart governments that have vision, think long term, operate seamlessly across departments and respond rapidly as disruptions create both risks and opportunities.”