Sihanoukville Selected to Transform into Smart City

Sihanoukville has been selected as one city of three spots regionwide to take part in the Smart Cities Innovation Lab initiative to transform into a smart city, with a call for startups to implement new solutions
Preah Sihanouk province skyline in 2021. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
Preah Sihanouk province skyline in 2021. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

Sihanoukville has been chosen for the Smart Cities Innovation Lab (SCIL) initiative, which aims to transform it into a smart city.

In partnership with Seedstars, UNESCAP launched the Smart Cities Innovation Lab program as a platform to scale-up short and long-term sustainable smart city solutions through collaborative interactions and partnerships that bring together municipal governments, entrepreneurs, technology companies, and development actors.

The program is launched in three South East Asian cities: Chiang Mai in Thailand, Sihanoukville, and Surabaya in Indonesia.

Anurag Maloo, head of partnerships (Asia) at Seedstars, told Kiripost that Sihanoukville’s expanding tourism industry and location as Cambodia's primary seaport make it an ideal location to develop smart city solutions.

“Sihanoukville was chosen as the location for this project because of its rapid growth and potential to become a major economic hub in Cambodia,” he said. “We’ll be collaborating with the municipal government and entrepreneurs to work on the SCIL project.”

By implementing the project, he expects to see innovative changes take place in the city. His focus is on smart waste management, tourism, and smart public transportation management.

“Our goal is to create a model smart city that can serve as an example for other cities in the region, and we're excited to see how the transformation to a smart city can benefit the people of Sihanoukville,” he said.

Currently, Smart Cities Innovation Lab (SCL) is calling for applications from Asia-Pacific residents, with a focus on Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Selected startups will have the opportunity to work with local governments to implement new and smart solutions.

Startups are necessary partners in achieving Cambodia’s transformation to a smart city, Maloo said.

“By working with local startups and entrepreneurs, we can tap into their creativity and knowledge of the local context to develop customized solutions and co-create cutting-edge smart city solutions that can bring positive change to the country,” he said. “We're excited to see how startups can help drive the transformation toward smart cities in Cambodia.”

Kim Khorn Long, CEO of AI Farm Robotics Factory, said this is a good program that has the potential to help unlock IoT (Internet of Things) products and build the IoT ecosystem in Cambodia for the development of smart factories, smart buildings, smart agriculture, and smart cities.

He added that his company plans to apply for this program, as Chiptree Semiconductor Lab is working on IoT prototypes to assist smart and green city development in Cambodia.

“Definitely, because we are making IoT products for smart city development,” he said. “Also, we take notice that our government’s decision to choose six cities to be smart and green, connecting to the network of smart and green cities in the region.”

These are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat, Preah Sihanouk and Mondulkiri.

In Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap have been chosen to participate in ASEAN's Smart Cities Network, which aims to achieve ASEAN's common objective of smart, sustainable urban development in 26 cities throughout the region by 2025.

Challenges and Opportunities

Cambodia’s transition to a smart city is not without challenges, the head of partnerships (Asia) at Seedstars said. One of the most significant obstacles to achieving the goals is a lack of digital infrastructure and human resources, he observed. These obstacles, on the other hand, are seen as opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

He said that smart city solutions have the potential to revolutionize Cambodia's urban living. Cambodia can enhance its mobility infrastructure, improve natural environments, and advance industry and social development by embracing technology and innovation.

“These solutions can drive economic growth, improve the quality of life for citizens, and promote sustainable urban development,” he said. “It's an exciting time for Cambodia, and I'm thrilled to be part of the movement towards smart cities that can unlock the country's potential.”

He added that evolving into smart cities can be a game-changer for Cambodia's economic growth. Moreover, it can create an environment that attracts businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in the country by enhancing infrastructure and improving access to key services.

“With the right support, these businesses can create jobs and drive economic growth, improving the lives of Cambodian citizens,” he said. “The potential impact of smart cities on the country's economy can definitely be immense.”

“I firmly believe that this transformation has a significant impact on urbanization and the lives of Cambodian citizens,” Maloo added.

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