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Phuket to be Thailand’s first ‘smart city’

27 January 2016 - Komsan Tortermvasana, Bangkok Post

Phuket will be turned into an innovation-driven smart city this year in a pilot project to promote digital-related investment and further development of the tourism industry.

The move is part of the government’s digital economy policy, said Jeerawan Boonperm, chairwoman of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa). The government has allocated 100 million baht to Sipa to develop the digital infrastructure and a data centre in Phuket. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry has assigned the agency to implement the project.

“Phuket will be Thailand’s first smart city, with Chiang Mai tipped to be next in 2017,” Ms Jeerawan said.

The development of the Phuket Smart City project has also been supported by South Korea’s Science, ICT and Future Planning Ministry, which is sharing its knowledge and unique development experience for innovation-driven smart cities. The collaboration with the South Korean ministry came after a meeting of Asean ICT ministers in Vietnam last November.

After the meeting, the ICT ministries of three Asean members plus South Korea expressed interest in participating in several projects to develop Thailand’s digital infrastructure.

South Korea has proposed investing in core ICT infrastructure projects including smart cities and centralised data centres. It also wants to enhance the competitiveness of local small and medium-sized enterprises and tech start-ups jointly. Ms Jeerawan said Jun Sung-soo, Incheon’s vice mayor for administrative affairs, formally agreed to enter into a cooperation agreement with Thailand’s ICT Ministry to develop smart city projects in Thailand. ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana was invited to South Korea to study the development of Incheon as a smart city.

Mr Jun also participated in Software Expo Asia in Bangkok, hosted by Sipa. The three-day event, which ends today, focuses on the development path of the regional digital economy in the near and medium terms as well as software innovation and digital content.

“We’re on the verge of development to become Asean’s digital infrastructure hub by 2020,” Ms Jeerawan said.

Collaboration among Asean ICT ministries could support the development of ecosystems, innovation-driven smart cities and innovative structural foundations for the digital economy, she added.