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ITA Connects Smart City Technology Exporters to Southeast Asia

April 22, 2020

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By: ITA’s Industry & Analysis Office of Health and Information Technologies

Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Singapore Daniel Bischof (middle), U.S. Department of Commerce staff, presenters, and participants at an ASEAN Smart Cities Third Country Training Program event in Singapore, December 2019.

Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Singapore Daniel Bischof (middle), U.S. Department of Commerce staff, presenters, and participants at an ASEAN Smart Cities Third Country Training Program event in Singapore, December 2019.

Today, nearly 300 million people living in the 10 countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reside in urban areas, and this number is set to increase to more than 500 million by 2050. Like cities in the United States and elsewhere, ASEAN cities are increasingly looking to use digital technologies as part of their smart city efforts to address a wide range of urbanization challenges.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is spearheading programming that connects U.S. smart city technology providers and experts with ASEAN cities to promote U.S. exports, increase U.S.-ASEAN best practices exchanges, and assist ASEAN cities in their development needs.

ITA’s work is part of the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership announced by Vice President Mike Pence in 2018. This multi-year program is a whole-of-government effort to promote collaboration between the two regions. To date, ITA has organized a variety of events to advocate for trade-enabling policies to connect U.S. technology providers to ASEAN cities.

Best Practices in Smart Cities

In December 2019, the United States and Singapore co-hosted a five-day workshop on Smart Cities in Singapore featuring a range of sessions on smart city planning. Debra Lam, Managing Director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology, reinforced the idea among the 24 participants that “all cities can be smart because it is a continuous improvement process.” As the former Chief Innovation & Performance Officer for the city of Pittsburgh, she was able to draw on her real-world experience. She encouraged cities to harness the power of emerging technologies rather than prematurely banning them, as blocking new technology can limit opportunities for future growth.

With each participant focused on one priority project that they hoped to develop in their city, ITA and experts from the region led interactive sessions for participants on:

  • planning and tailoring their smart city build-outs;
  • developing strategies to finance and sustainably fund their priority smart city projects;
  • adopting standards and project procurement best practices; and
  • mitigating cybersecurity risk.

Throughout the week, ITA connected ASEAN participants with U.S. industry partners such as Cisco Autodesk, and New York based Xylem to learn about innovative technology solutions to real world problems.

Industry Engagement

This past January, ITA led a delegation of Indonesian municipal officials to DistribuTECH, a leading energy and utilities trade show in San Antonio, Texas. U.S. companies participating and exhibiting at DistribuTECH had an opportunity to meet with key decision makers in Indonesia’s power sector, opening market prospects for technology and solutions critically needed in that nation. During the show, officials from Sumatra and Java discussed best practices with U.S. public and private sector representatives to facilitate development of Indonesia’s smart cities and smart grid infrastructure.

In recent months, ITA has continued extensive industry outreach to raise awareness of Southeast Asian smart city business opportunities and to plan for future programming.

Looking Towards the Future

During the next few years, ITA will continue to organize sector specific smart cities programs at trade shows focused on water, safety and security, transportation, cybersecurity, and waste management, among others. In addition, ITA will lead expert advisor delegations to ASEAN cities to engage with municipal governments on specific challenges they are facing and advocate for U.S. smart cities solutions that address those challenges.

If you are interested in connecting with us on future U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities programs, please email USASCP@trade.gov.