There were an estimated 47 megacities in existence in 2017, and the majority were located in Asia. The region is facing urbanization on a scale far beyond that of other regions, with an estimated 1.1 billion moving into Asian cities in the next 20 years. Many Asian countries are also in areas that are prone to extreme weather patterns or natural disasters, and this is only becoming more of a problem with climate change. Cities across the continent urgently need to prepare for serious population growth, and the strain it will place on their public services, and the risks that environmental changes pose. For this reason, becoming more resilient and ‘smarter’ is inevitably at the top of most Asian cities’ political agendas. In this article we are going to explore some of the Asian cities investing in becoming smarter and more sustainable in order to make their citizens safer and happier.
What does it take to turn a national bureaucracy into a smart government? It’s not too often a country is given a clean slate from which to start. But for Estonia, a small nation on the Baltic Sea, that is exactly what happened.
A combination of pragmatism and instinct led Estonia to develop an e-government in the 1990s, soon after the country regained its independence from the Soviet Union. The Estonians didn’t pursue a digital future because they thought it would be cool or trendy. They followed their common sense, which told them it would be better to expend their limited resources on servers and networks, rather than on grand buildings and government palaces.