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Jun 05, 2018 / 08:46

Siemens CEO highlights social and human aspects of a smart city

Big cities in Vietnam, including the capital of Hanoi are underway to evolve into smart cities. The process would transfer cities to become smarter, thus be more livable and sustainable.

That was claimed by Pham Thai Lai, CEO of Siemens Vietnam, one of leading firms that support cities in Vietnam with smart solutions, in an interview granted to Hanoitimes.
CEO of Siemens Vietnam -  Pham Thai Lai
CEO of Siemens Vietnam - Pham Thai Lai

As a firm specialized in industrial manufacturing that have worked with numerous cities in the field, what are the challenges to worldwide cities nowadays on their way to become smarter, according to Siemens?
Dr. Lai: Population growth, climate change, ageing and deteriorating basic infrastructure, resource scarcity, changing needs and expectations all place demands on the operations of a city and create new challenges for cities to tackle.
The only way to cope with these challenges is that cities have to become smarter by getting more efficient. Here are 10 reasons to make a city smart: To cope with increased demand on city basic infrastructures; To reduce demand on scarce resources by indentifying actual needs and eliminating waste; To drive further efficiency through reduced cost of service delivery; To add network capacity at optimized investments; To reduce cost to citizens, businesses and visitors; To deliver better, more reliable and connected services to citizens; To empower people with information and choice; To provide healthier environment and reduce pollution; To drive innovation and provide business opportunity; and To enhance quality of life, attracting human capital, business investment and economic growth.
Vietnam is also facing many challenges as a result of city booming and vigorous urbanization countrywide. Many cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are struggling to cope with overstretched infrastructures. So in your opinion what are the prerequisites for these cities to become smart cities?
Dr Lai: I would say: Digital Infrastructure, Smart Mobility, Smart Grid and Smart Buildings.
Digitally enabled infrastructure, based on a foundation of electrification and automation, can drive efficiencies in services through optimization of operations and equipment, changing operational patterns based on demand, and managing and maintaining the systems remotely.
Mobility solutions increase the availability of infrastructure, optimize throughput and create a new quality of passenger experience through digitalization. For instance, the Digital Railway provides a new opportunity for cities and train operators to run railways that are interactive and self managing, and at the same time provides passengers with new level of connectivity besides convenience and comfort when moving around.
The Smart Grid provides an optimized balance of generation and demand helping to reduce the overall consumption of electricity across the development by directly regulating devices or influencing consumer behavior.
Smart building technology will help cities to achieve the highest standards of environmental efficiency and to reduce energy demands.
What can citizens and businesses benefit from smart cities?
Dr. Lai: Smart cities will be informed, connected and inclusive of citizens, aimed at a more sustainable and resilient path and a more inclusive prosperity. The term “smart” embraces not just the technological, but also the social and human aspects of a city.
A thriving, modern city leverages information and communication technology (ICT) and a smart and resilient infrastructure to facilitate and enhance its economic growth. This, in turn, has significant impact on the efficiency and capacity of infrastructure and service delivery to citizens, their economic opportunity and overall quality of life.  
You said that Digital Infrastructure and Smart Mobility are the two key factors of smart cities. So what can Siemens offer cities in Vietnam, especially Hanoi to promote them?
Dr. Lai: Siemens has a unique digital offering for infrastructure needs of a city. We are working directly with cities worldwide to ensure that digital technologies are integrated into planning so it benefits immediately by reducing congestion, improving air quality and increasing energy reliability
In Vietnam, we are working with the Ministry of Transport and different city governments to make transportation more efficient by implementing intelligent traffic lights and traffic management systems to regulate the flow of traffic.
We believe that a widely-deployed public transportation system will be the key factor to making cities more liveable and more competitive. Our metro solutions are available to support cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in doing this. Further down the road, driverless trains, driver assistance systems, or e-ticketing systems will make commuting more convenient for the urban population.
About a month ago the leading authority of Hanoi People’s Committee invited us to come and present our unique portfolio for smart cities. The city leader was very interested in our solutions and has delegated relevant departments to work with us and develop a business concept which will be submitted to his office for consideration.
Last but not least, Siemens is working closely with Vinfast in their ambitious automobile project. In a year or two, you will see many nice and modern cars running on the streets, which is made in Vietnam with Siemens PLM technology.
What are the roles of public and private sectors in smart cities development in Vietnam, according to you?
Dr. Lai: In my opinion, there should be effective cooperation between stakeholders at various levels of city administration, ensuring the development and delivery of an integrated multi-modal master plan. This may require the implementation of updated policies to guide the development of urban planning, the evolution of new bodies to coordinate cross-sector activities, the training of staff to operate new equipment and analyze the output data and trends, as well as the pursuit of new approaches to secure alternative sources of financing.
Additionally, there is some confusion about which technology is most appropriate in a given circumstance, and this is where I would suggest that cities identify their key challenges and priorities, and work together with the private sector to develop solutions that will work for them. We are well aware about the squeezed public budgets, which is common everywhere around the globe so I strongly recommend that the private sector in Vietnam engages more actively in smart cities initiatives.
For Siemens, providing cities with the best possible products, solutions and services is a strategically important task. And we are truly committed to helping make cities in Vietnam become smarter thus being more liveable and sustainable.
Thank you very much!