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How Indonesia’s New Capital Can Kickstart a Smart, Sustainable City Movement

By Jackie Chang, Delta Thailand President

Edited by Delta Thailand Corporate Communications

Jakarta, February 28, 2020 – The Indonesian government’s plan to make the new capital in East Kalimantan a “smart city in the forest” is a bold move with the potential to offer opportunities for a happier and healthier life to more people across the nation.

Now there’s no question that building a smart city from the ground up is a huge challenge.

But I believe this challenge is worth taking if Indonesia wants to transform into an innovation-driven economy that attracts investment and improves everyone’s standard of life. I’m grateful to see the government proactively starting a smart city initiative for the new capital, Jakarta and beyond.

The need for smart cities

Smart cities are more efficient which boosts workforce productivity. A recent study by Juniper Research showed residents can get back up to 15 days per year each by cutting down on time in traffic, getting better healthcare access through telemedicine and monitoring devices, and having faster administrative processes with government agencies through open data and digitalization.

And the good news for Indonesia is that the country already has a head start with 100 smart city projects across 25 cities and municipalities.

I’d like to highlight several important trends that will define the smart city effort in the new capital, and how they can bring real benefits to millions of Indonesians.

Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure

First, the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure can attract private investment and human capital, which is the key to a thriving new city. Urban planners can implement intelligent IoT sensors to monitor real-time data and create safer neighborhoods, less congested roads, better waste disposal, air quality control and water management.

The Indonesia IoT Association estimates that the country’s IoT market will reach IDR444 trillion in 2022, and this figure will increase over 3.6 times to become IDR1,620 trillion by 2025. This is a big opportunity for both government and businesses to spur economic growth because the IoT industry involves both hardware and software solutions, which will create more jobs and drive the country’s tech capabilities.

An example of IoT implementation is our company’s recent installation of 21,000 smart LED streetlights in cooperation with the Jakarta City Government. Besides offering up to 70% energy savings, these smart poles are valuable information nodes that collect and relay data from extensions including surveillance cameras and sensors that detect air quality, temperature and water level. Residents get real-time information from built-in displays and electric vehicles (EV) drivers can use convenient charging outlets attached to the poles.

EV infrastructure

Another trend is EVs, with Indonesia aiming to have 2 million EVs nationwide by 2025. President Joko Widodo’s recent EV decree wants to tap the nation’s abundant resources to produce EV batteries. Having EVs will help smart cities have cleaner air and more efficient traffic.

While advances in battery technology are improving EV range and affordability, drivers need enough public EV charging options throughout the city that fit everyone’s lifestyles and thus encourage widespread adoption.

Breakthrough EV charging technology like Delta’s 150kW Ultra-Fast Charger is perfect for the future smart city because it is almost as fast and convenient as a gas pump.

The Ultra-Fast Charger, recently debuted in Indonesia, offers Jakarta’s EV drivers a quick charge in minutes and can charge up to four EVs at the same time. Drivers don’t have to queue up, and operators can save cost and space by installing just one charger and scaling up its power as demand grows.

Renewable energy

The final trend to look out for is renewable energy, as the government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 29% within 2030. Besides greener transport, we must also add renewable power to our energy mix as well to help reduce carbon footprint.

To do that, we must invest in a smarter grid in the new capital, which is less dependent on central coal-fired power plants and includes smaller or independent energy producers involved in biomass, wind or solar energy.

Indonesia aims to get 23% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. And as renewable power generation isn’t constant, we need energy storage and power conditioning systems to fill in the power gaps and to stabilize the grid.

Smart city blueprint

To sum it up, we see IoT, EV and renewable energy solutions as the foundation of the smart city. A successful new smart capital will encourage more urban planners nationwide, or even in Southeast Asia, to embark on a similar model on a larger scale. This will help millions of more people in the region to enjoy more sustainable, healthier and happier lives. That’s why I feel fortunate to be part of Delta Electronics where promoting smart city initiatives to transform people’s lives is a core part of our business direction.

This blueprint is possible, yet it comes with boundaries and we have to face pros and cons. Many Indonesians put their faith in the new capital city as a new development project for Borneo, a way to escape problems in Jakarta with more than 6 million citizens and a fresh start. However, a smart city will need thorough digitalization, a sustainable mindset and agility to fast change.

Despite being one of the chattiest countries in social media globally, the internet adaptation throughout Indonesia in Java island itself is only 57,70%, while in Borneo the percentage shows much less for 7%, based on 2018’s data released by Indonesia’s Internet Service Provider Association. This number could impact the establishment of Data Center in Indonesia.

Data centers for digitization

Data centers cannot be separated from the concept of smart city. Alongside the growing digital businesses, such as e-commerce, Indonesia has been a growing market for the data center industry. According to IDPRO, the market for data center in Indonesia increases 30% each year consistently since 2014. Starting 2020, Indonesia has welcomed new players for data center services—a sign towards smart-city ready for Indonesia.

By taking a step-by-step approach to switch to the latest technology, we could start a new smart capital generation with a more friendly and long-term impact on the environment.  Smart cities can be the heart of a healthier and easier way of life.

While a “smart city in the forest,” may be hard to imagine today, we hope that the planners of East Kalimantan embrace new ideas and future-proof technologies so we can all see this vision become a reality–and a testament to what Indonesia can accomplish through bold decisions.

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