Good progress being made in Phuket and Saensuk pilots;
NIA launches IoT City Innovation Centre to facilitate start-ups, tech entrepreneurs
In a bid to turn Thailand into an Asean innovation hub, the Information and Communications Technology Ministry has initiated a project called “Phuket Smart City” that will transform the old city and surrounding areas into a destination that goes beyond tourism and attracts technologists and start-up businesses to the island.
The move is part of the broader “Smart Thailand” initiative, which is an ICT Ministry action plan set to play a key role in driving the government’s digital-economy strategy.
Under the overall budget of Bt3.755 billion for Smart Thailand, around Bt97 million has been set aside to roll out the pilot smart city in the resort-island within one year.
Project manager Passakorn Phathombutr said Phuket Smart City was made up of both a short-term and a long-term plan, with the National Science and Technology Development Agency taking care of the former, while the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa) takes care of the latter.
The mission of the short-term plan is to execute the pilot projects of the smart-city concept on Phuket during the course of this year.
The four main tasks are the introduction of smart mobility, enforcement, CCTV (closed-circuit television) integration and big data analytics, and an intelligence operations centre (IOC).
Smart mobility aims to enhance traffic on the island via the use of technology – sensors, network and mobility, in particular – in order to facilitate locals, businesses and tourists to travel more easily throughout the island.
This entails the use of traffic-report and smart-bus initiatives.
Enforcement, meanwhile, involves the deployment of technology to enhance the legal enforcement of rules by the traffic police and the Land Transportation Department.
Special red-light cameras will be used to detect vehicles that abuse traffic laws, along with CCTV that can detect and track a suspect vehicle, with its camera capturing the licence plate.
CCTV integration and big data analytics entail CCTV network data being analysed with a view to providing enhanced public safety.
The IOC will link information collected by sensors based on land at sea, and then analyse the data and monitor the situation with a view to mitigating or preventing a disaster.
Another IOC goal is to improve the land and marine environments.
Land information collected by sensors includes key data such as temperature, humidity, and carbon-monoxide and carbon-dioxide levels, while marine information will include temperature, air pressure, and the salinity of seawater.
“All these implementations involve Internet of Things [IoT] technology, which is being welcomed by both global and Thai-based vendors. The move is to pilot the platform so that local people can scale it up and do the maintenance own their own.
“We are working with the Phuket Smart City working committee, which consists of the provincial governor, the provincial chamber of commerce, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket branch, and government officials. The project is led by Sipa Phuket,” Passakorn said.
Saensuk Smart City
Starting last year, the three-year smart-city pilot scheme of Saensuk municipality – located in Chon Buri’s Muang district – has been piloting a smart-health and smart-tourism system across 20 square kilometres of what is known as Saensuk City to provide smart facilities for both residents and tourists.
Saensuk Smart City was initiated by the municipality in collaboration with Burapha University’s Embedded System Laboratory.
Narongchai Khunpluem, mayor of the municipality, said the initial focus is to provide improved safety, smart homes and smart healthcare for the elderly and handicapped under the concept of “Smart Living at Saensuk Smart City”.
This embraces four kinds of technology: BlueBLE Tag, BlueBLE Dongle, Sensor Hub and IoT Station, which serve home safety, environment-sensing, emergency notification, person-tracking and heath-monitoring.
The Saensuk City area contains over 300 elderly and handicapped people, which are the target group for its smart-living concept, he said.
A wearable device called BlueBLE Tag is provided to the target individuals, in order to track and monitor their health and behaviour while at home.
BlueBLE Tag works with the other three technologies – BlueBLE Dongle, Sensor Hub and IoT Station – to send a notification to the family of the person should there be some sort of emergency.
For example, if a person with Alzheimer’s wanders away from their home, they will be detected through the BlueBLE Tag and an alert will automatically be sent to their family, the mayor explained.
Burapha University’s Embedded System Laboratory developed the four technologies for the municipality under an IoT research and development budget supported by the National Innovation Agency (NIA) and the Thailand Research Fund.
“The target for this year is to provide this system to 150 elderly and handicapped people. We will start to give them the wearable device, BlueBLE Tag, by March,” Narongchai said.
Saensuk Smart City is also offering enhanced public safety for both residents and tourists via a CCTV system – IP-based CCTV – which it is in process of installing.
The city plans to install 100 of the Internet Protocol-based cameras within the 20 square kilometres of Saensuk City by the end of next year at a cost Bt5 million per annum, which is being met from its own budget, he added.
“We have started the smart-city project as a pilot with the collaboration of local people, including the municipality, university and local business. Also, in regard to the main infrastructure, this requires the government’s participation.
“We are in the trial phase and we plan to approach the ICT Ministry for further support, especially in hard infrastructure. While the [nationwide] broadband Internet network already covers the while city, it does come not free of charge. Saensuk municipality has therefore supported a ‘free Wi-Fi’ service for tourists and other people out of our own budget,” Narongchai explained.
IoT City Innovation Centre
With the aim of encouraging the local development of Internet of Things technology, which plays such a crucial role in developing a smart city, the Science and Technology Ministry’s NIA has partnered with CAT Telecom and the Thailand Embedded System Association (TESA) to establish the IoT City Innovation Centre, located at the NIA’s head office in Bangkok.
The innovation agency provides 1,200 square metres of space, CAT Telecom offers broadband Internet, the Wi-Fi network and cloud computing, while TESA plays the role of matchmaker for each stakeholder with local developers.
NIA director Pun-Arj Chairatana said that to support sustainable smart-city development, the key technologies were IoT in association with cloud computing and big data, which were all important in increasing the capability of local entrepreneurs.
This was why the NIA had linked hands with CAT Telecom and TESA to establish the IoT City Innovation Centre, he said.
The centre offers co-working space, an incubation programme and related facilities, including training, and matching the developers to the expertise, venture capital, and technology vendors.
It aims to play a key part in developing an IoT innovation ecosystem, business-related IoT, and smart-city deployment, which will serve the Kingdom’s smart cities in the public healthcare, tourism and logistics areas, he added.
The centre hopes to welcome 6,000 people using its facilities in the first year, 1,000 people receiving training, 100 developers or innovation start-ups getting funding support for research and development, and 50 developers or innovation start-ups getting investment-funding support.
It aims to play a role as a centre for facilitating collaboration among IoT stakeholders, especially global IoT technology vendors such as Dell, IBM and Cisco System, the NIA chief said.