Overview of 7th Smart Cities Asia 2021

For the 7th time this year, Smart Cities Asia 2021 will be bringing together cities, worldwide industry leaders, policymakers and entrepreneurs in the acceleration of cities activities to adapt in this disrupted world. Join us in discovering the nearly limitless potential of Smart Cities and how connected solutions will drive city wide improvements, better quality of life for residents and business opportunities for enterprises. Smart Cities Asia 2021 will display how cities adapt to these disruptions will be critical for their liveability and sustainability with the experience of technologies, solutions and main key players in the smart city sector. With its meaningful content and bringing connectivity through the speakers, Smart Cities Asia 2021 is set to empower smart cities implementations and executions at all stages of growth.

Conference Agenda

1000 - 1005
Opening Remarks

Selva Nagappan, Managing Director, Smart Cities Asia 2021

COVID was the common uttered word in the year 2020. However, it took a slightly positive diversion for smart cities as it drove accelerated digital transformation with the prediction that overall smart city investment will reach $203 billion globally by the year 2024. This session highlights on:

  • Transit services pressures 40% of cities to adopt technologies and platforms, increasing private transportation solutions by 2023 with 30% of cities using automation, IoT and AI blending both physical and digital for an improved infrastructure connecting the city with its citizens.
  • How the living lifestyle could change with the prediction of 40% of cities using digital space planning tools for homes and hybrid workspaces creating a smart sustainable lifestyle for citizens.

Property technology utilizes a diverse range of cutting-edge technology to revolutionize the experience of the real estate industry across the whole value chain. Undoubtedly, it will have much more room to grow both as a technology and as a new industry. This session highlights on:

  • How investments and finance will change due to data driven technological progress and the need for more sustainable buildings
  • How prop-tech digitizes pre-existing data to increase the speed and efficiency of mortgage processing and loan applications
  • Fundamentally changing real estate loans by reducing the complexity of transactions and improving accuracy and creating a better customer experience.

Contributing 7% – 12% to the nation’s GDP, the agriculture sector has resurrected a new interest in urban farming to address the issue on hand pertaining to food sustainability and climate change. With Asia’s expenditure on food setting to double to US$8 trillion by 2030, no thanks to COVID19, the smart living lifestyle has plans to improve long-term food security and sustainability with the infusion of new and emerging technologies. This session focuses on:

  • Rural parts in the country have been manually growing greens for years minus the technology. With plans to replicate this innovation throughout the cities in Malaysia, will the technology developed be applicable at these locations or will Sunway FutureX have alternate plans in addressing this supply chain challenge.
  • Decentralizing urban farming techniques requiring minimal water and zero pesticides produces consistent yield to serve the local community to live in a healthy and connected environment in par with the 11 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).


Matthijs van Leeuwen, Chief Innovation Officer of Sunway Group & Director of Sunway Innovation Labs (iLabs), Malaysia


The United Overseas Bank (UOB) in Asia launching their UOB Smart City Sustainable Finance Framework might just be the solution to smart cities to get the financing they need. Backed up by the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) green and sustainability-linked loan grant scheme, the organization will need to provide a clear sustainability strategy and objective in order to achieve their sustainability performance targets and to use the proceeds to further their sustainability agenda. Hear from the
experts on:

  • Strategizing framework in recognizing the multi-faceted needs within smart cities ecosystem while simultaneously responding to various financing needs from stakeholders in the form of green loans and sustainability-linked loans.
  • UOBSCSFF aim to aid organizations and private firms to drive their focus in pulling together the relevant resources to contribute to a sustainable city and a better living environment for citizens.


Moderator: Mark Thomas, Future of Place Taskforce Member, Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand and Managing Director & Founder, Serviceworks Group, New Zealand



Speakers: Lau Xin Yi, Green Finance Lead, South East Asia, The Carbon Trust, Singapore

Back in 2017, Plan Melbourne kick started the idea as their key policy direction towards 2050 gaining the 6057 km northwest to Singapore with their Land Transport Master Plan 2040 in the works. Could Malaysia be next? With Malaysia having the highest rate of obesity and overweight citizens among Asian countries, this programme could redesign spaces allowing citizens to start having a healthy lifestyle in a liveable community space. Hear from the session on:

  • Given the uncertainty of COVID19’s existence in the world, minimum contact will go on for some time. Could Malaysia work towards a transit providing corridor ecosystem with cross government and industry supported embedded policies in government projects and framework?
  • Public transportations usually takes citizens longer to reach their destination. How would the sharing of public transportation and no private vehicles policy work to deliver a productive and sustainable urban community?

Since the beginning of 2020, automatic ticketing has slowly become a part of the public transport system by simply getting on board for their journey via their smartphone. Switzerland is the first country in the world to introduce this system nationwide, with over 160 different transport companies taking part. Hear from the expert on innovative ways devising fare scales and making fares equitable; an issue that needs the interaction with the public transport networks to harness each mode of strengths and promote an integrated journey among citizens.

Deploying low carbon solutions has been the talk in Malaysia for a couple of years now. PETRONAS Malaysia believes they could provide cleaner energy and solutions benefitting the city and the citizens through reduced emissions by 2050 with Shell declaring to do the same within the exact time frame having reached the peak in the industry. However, the International Energy Agency found that 75% of the emissions reductions necessary to achieve net zero scenarios depend on technologies that have not yet reached commercial maturity. Hear from the speakers as they discuss:

  • Decarbonization of the city in architecture future in the green retrofit projects within the complexity of the many different types of residential design and construction.
  • Getting energy to deplete both natural resources and emit GHG.
  • How do we get and use our energy both depletes natural resources and emits GHG to transition to the local energy networks with grid harmonization capabilities within the city?

Building up a city from the ground up is a wild card for governments and developers — they get blank slates of land to develop without the hassles and expenses inherent to relocating people, settling with existing land owners, and redeveloping an already established area. Penang, known for its rich cultural diversity and bountiful biodiversity drove the Masterplan for Penang’s South Islands three island design, BiodiverCity towards Penang2030 vision in becoming a family-focused, green and smart city. Penang’s predominant members talking on:

  • The development direction of Penang’s major initiative in the buildings on the artificial islands using the combination of Malaysian timbers and “green concrete” for a sustainable infrastructure ecosystem for their citizens.
  • Manifestation on a focused livability lifestyle, stimulating socially and economically inclusive development by uplifting the environmental sustainability for future generations.
  • The local council’s initiative and works involving detailed analysis of existing facilities and businesses surrounding an area, local open spaces and activity patterns to deliver a productive and sustainable urban community.
  • Penang has among the highest population densities in Malaysia and is one of the country’s most urbanized states. With a high population, will the islands be able to accommodate citizens with the landscape design to offer a high level of liveability?


Panelists: Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer, City Developments Limited, Singapore

Automating a city seems extremely challenging especially in making sure the connectivity works seamlessly. Asia Pacific’s growth for emerging technologies in the smart cities market will evolve by 32.2% annually over 2020-2030 and we have the rising urbanization & government initiatives for the fast development of smart cities to thank for that. Cookie cutter solutions are unusually successful so learning from our neighbours experience should be the way to move from here on. Hear from the expert on his experience in determining the way Malaysia could go with:

  • Understanding the right technology for individual city capacity for the best practices in achieving valued digital national as well as for the state and local government.
  • Asia Pacific’s digital national governments and smart cities investing in information technology in line of taking focus on the socioeconomic resilience in today’s post pandemic and economic crisis.

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