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Smart Cities Set to Revolutionize Modern Face of Urban Living

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] S [/yt_dropcap]ay goodbye to the past and live in the future, the modern face of cities as know them is set to be revolutionized, noted panellists in a session on the future of smart cities on the opening day of the 11th Annual Meeting of the New Champions.

“We stand here at a unique period. We are seeing some of the convergent capabilities, this transformation, these capabilities being built,” observed Thaddeus Arroyo, Chief Executive Officer, Business Solutions and International, AT&T, USA. “For the first time, this is moving beyond theoretical paradigms.”

While the term “smart cities” is an amorphous, intangible concept for many, AT&T has developed eight smart, spotlight cities that in the words of Arroyo are “real laboratories for building, not testing” smart technology. These cities utilize smart lighting to reduce consumption – a seemingly small innovation that has paved the way for the introduction of other technological capabilities that measure air, traffic and water quality – and can even detect gun shots.

From ubiquitous connectivity and drones to autonomous vehicles, smart cities are less about creating new technologies than adopting existing capabilities to create safer, and more efficient and resilient urban spaces. “Lots of these solutions are not new. The technology is there; most important is how you bring them together and provide a new business model. You have to look at the end users, the clients, the citizens,” noted Sandra Wu Wen-Hsiu, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Kokusai Kogyo, Japan.

When it comes to smart cities, one challenge is that technology is moving faster than we do. We can’t “future proof”, but we can get engaged in the conversation – one that raises exciting possibilities for the way we might live, and learn in the future, noted Alex Molinaroli, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Controls, USA.

Take the field of education, where digital systems could be used to reach remote or excluded communities. “Education today is a mind-set that you are going to physically go to school, have your curriculum, do it in a traditional way; but think about educating across boundaries, about education as a life-learning opportunity. It is going to require us to re-evaluate what we accept as education. The technology already exists,” said Molinaroli, a Co-Chair of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions. “But the policies haven’t caught up yet.”

Despite the consensus that smart cities will be predicated on open data – and that without open data a city can’t be smart – there was unanimous agreement that data security is a prevailing concern.

“We have become a cyber society: that is a challenge for government also. Online, you share your information, you pay with your credit card, give Uber your location. Security is a new concept because cyber society identifies every individual,” said Liu Jiren, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Neusoft Corporation, People’s Republic of China. “In the physical world, you can check, but what does trust mean in a cyber network?”

Smart cities are an undeniably appealing concept, yet participants also stressed inclusivity moving forward, especially for an ageing population that might be less technologically savvy.

“When you look at the demographics of the people who shop in your bricks and mortar, what we see is a greying society. That group is getting older,” noted Nicholas Allen, Non-Executive Chairman, Link Real Estate Investment Trust (LINK REIT), Hong Kong SAR, “The challenge for me is how to manage those intergenerational markets.”

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Russiagate and the current challenges of cyberspace: Interview with Elena Chernenko

MD Staff

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PICREADI presents an interview with a prominent Russian expert in journalism and cybersecurity Elena Chernenko, Deputy head of Foreign Desk at the Kommersant daily newspaper in Moscow. The talk is about hackers, Russiagate and current challenges of the cyberspace.

 

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Asia Needs a Region-Wide Approach to Harness Fintech’s Full Potential

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The importance of a region-wide approach to harness the potentials of fintech was emphasized at the High-Level Policy Dialogue: Regional Cooperation to Support Innovation, Inclusion and Stability in Asia on 11 October in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: ADB

Asia’s policy makers should strengthen cooperation to harness the potential of new financial technologies for inclusive growth. At the same time, they should work together to ensure they can respond better to the challenges posed by fintech.

New technologies such as mobile banking, big data, and peer-to-peer transfer networks are already extending the reach of financial services to those who were previously unbanked or out of reach, boosting incomes and living standards. Yet, fintech also comes with the risk of cyber fraud, data security, and privacy breaches. Disintermediation of fintech services or concentration of services among a few providers could also pose a risk to financial stability.

These and other issues were discussed at the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Regional Cooperation to Support Innovation, Inclusion, and Stability in Asia, organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bank Indonesia, and the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

The panel comprised Ms. Neav Chanthana, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia; Mr. Diwa Guinigundo, Deputy Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Ms. Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and Chief Executive Officer of Women’s World Banking; Mr. Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President of ADB; Mr. Abdul Rasheed, Deputy Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia, and Mr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, Governor of the Bank of Thailand. Mr. Mirza Adityaswara, Senior Deputy Governor of Bank Indonesia, gave the opening remarks at the conference and Ms. Junhong Chang, Director of AMRO, gave the welcome remarks.

“Rapidly spreading new financial technologies hold huge promise for financial inclusion,” said Mr. Nakao. “We must foster an enabling environment for the technologies to flourish and strengthen regional cooperation to build harmonized regulatory standards and surveillance systems to prevent international money laundering, terrorism financing, and cybercrimes.”

“Technology is an enabler that weaves our economies and financial systems together, transmitting benefits but also risks across borders,” said Ms. Chang. “Given East Asia’s rapid economic growth, understanding and managing the impact of technology in our financial systems is essential for policymakers to maintain financial stability.”

“Asia, including Indonesia, is an ideal place for fintech to flourish,” said Mr. Adityaswara. “In Indonesia’s case, there are more than a quarter of a billion people living on thousand of islands, waiting to be integrated with the new technology; young people eager to enter the future digital world; more than fifty million small and medium-sized enterprises which can’t wait to get on board with e-commerce; a new society driven by a dynamic, democratic middle class which views the digital economy as something as inevitable as evolution.”

Despite Asia’s high economic growth in recent years, the financial sector is still under-developed in some countries. Fewer than 27% of adults in developing Asia have a bank account, well below the global median of 38%. Meanwhile, just 84% of firms have a checking or savings account, on a par with Africa but below Latin America’s 89% and emerging Europe’s 92%.

Financial inclusion could be increased through policies to promote financial innovation, by boosting financial literacy, and by expanding and upgrading digital infrastructure and networks. Regulations to prevent illegal activities, enhance cyber security, and protect consumers’ rights and privacy, would also build confidence in new financial technologies.

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Cutting-edge tech a ‘double-edged sword for developing countries’

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The latest technological advances, from artificial intelligence to electric cars, can be a “double-edged sword”, says the latest UN World Economic and Social Survey (WESS 2018), released on Monday.

The over-riding message of the report is that appropriate, effective policies are essential, if so-called “frontier technologies” are to change the world for the better, helping us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressing climate change: without good policy, they risk exacerbating existing inequality.

Amongst several positive indicators, WESS 2018 found that the energy sector is becoming more sustainable, with renewable energy technology and efficient energy storage systems giving countries the opportunity to “leapfrog” existing, often fossil fuel-based solutions.

The wellbeing of the most vulnerable is being enhanced through greater access to medicines, and millions in developing countries now have access to low-cost financial services via their mobile phones.

Referring to the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “good health and longevity, prosperity for all and environmental sustainability are within our reach if we harness the full power of these innovations.”

However, the UN chief warned of the importance of properly managing the use of new technologies, to ensure there is a net benefit to society: the report demonstrates that unmanaged implementation of developments such as artificial intelligence and automation can improve efficiency but also destroy quality jobs.

“Clearly, we need policies that can ensure frontier technologies are not only commercially viable but also equitable and ethical. This will require a rigorous, objective and transparent ongoing assessment, involving all stakeholders,” Mr. Guterres added

The Survey says that proactive and effective policies can help countries to avoid pitfalls and minimize the economic and social costs of technology-related disruption. It calls for regulation and institutions that promote innovation, and the use of new technologies for sustainable development.

With digital technology frequently crossing borders, international cooperation, the Survey shows, is needed to bring about harmonized standards, greater flexibility in the area of intellectual property rights and ensuring that the market does not remain dominated by a tiny number of extremely powerful companies.

Here, the UN has a vital role to play, by providing an objective assessment of the impact that emerging technologies have on sustainable development outcomes – including their effects on employment, wages and income distribution – and bringing together people, business and organizations from across the world to build strong consensus-led agreements.

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