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Learning Globally, and Applying Locally In the Light of World Town Planning Day 2023

World Town Planning Day, also known as "World Urbanism Day," aims to encourage community planning to address diverse environmental and socio-economic factors involved in the development of a town. The 74th World Town Planning Day 2023 is being celebrated worldwide on November 08 with the theme 'Learn Globally, Apply Locally.'

According to the 2023 IMD Smart City Index, Singapore is ranked as the 7th smartest in the world, and topped among the smart cities in the Asian subcontinent.

Singapore has overcome diverse urban challenges through the utilization of the latest ICT technologies. The city is able to provide necessary urban amenities including water treatment, public housing, transportation, energy management, etc. Singapore's pathway of being a smart city offers great lessons for Dhaka.

Scenario of Dhaka and the Vow of Smart City

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is a mega city inhabited by 10.2 million people as of 2022. According to World Bank data approximately three to four lakhs people migrate to Dhaka from different regions of Bangladesh each year. A lion's share of these migrants are climate refugees. With above three percent population growth rate Dhaka has gained the title of fourth most populous city in the world.

The uncontrolled migration and unplanned urbanization are posing a threat to the existence of Dhaka city. As a result Dhaka is facing multifarious challenges such as air pollution, traffic jams, insufficient public amenities and services, inadequate public transport facilities, inadequate infrastructure, etc.

The government of Bangladesh have taken the initiative to build Dhaka as a Smart City.

The term smart city refers to a technologically advanced urban area that promises quality of life for residents by optimizing city functions, promoting economic growth, and utilizing various technologies.

Now, it is a burning question that how can Dhaka city assure quality life to its inhabitants by improving healthcare, public transportation, housing, urban amenities, and advanced payment systems which are the key components of a smart city?

Lessons from Asia's Smartest City Singapore

Swiss business school Institute for Management Development (IMD) published the Smart City Index 2023 surveying 141 cities. Here cities have been ranked on the basis of efficient utilization of technologies to address the challenges of urbanization for upgrading the residents' quality of life. Now, what makes Singapore the smartest city in Asia and what can Dhaka learn from this city?

Digital Healthcare Service

Singapore has launched a comprehensive digital platform, called e-health initiative to upgrade the accessibility and quality of healthcare services. Here 'Online Portal HealthHub' and 'Telemedicine' facilitate patients especially the aging population in managing their health and wellness by consulting with doctors remotely through messaging and video conferencing. What is more, the AI powered chatbots talk with elderly to overcome loneliness.

Besides these, Singapore developed a masterplan to assure community-focused health service that includes necessary healthcare infrastructure like pedestrian walkways, underground car parking facilities, outdoor green spaces, etc.

Public Housing and Smart Living

Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB) has provided public housing facilities for the majority (around 80%) of its citizens. Here, the public housing arrangements are parts of larger community areas that integrate sustainability, livability, and balanced growth.

Singapore's Smart Town Framework was introduced by HDB in 2014. This concept has been promoting the idea of a smart home that encourages the residents to upgrade their households by implementing advanced technologies like a utility management system.


In recent years, Singapore has been expanding autonomous vehicles (AVs) or self-driving cars to assure better inter-town communication.

An efficient transport infrastructure network has been built in Singapore to encourage residents to use active mobility modes such as walking or cycling along with cost-effective public transportation services like buses and mass rapid transit (MRT).

Singapore widely adopted Contactless payment technology for public transportation commuters to control mobility and payments more efficiently.

In addition to these, the 'Walk Cycle Ride' initiative promotes creation of livable recreation spaces, and utilizations of sustainable energy while reducing pollution.

Public Services

Singapore has launched a mobile application called 'Smart Nation App' with an aim to provide a one-stop platform that allows citizens access to diverse information and government services.

This system also provides scopes of real-time updates in case of emergencies in the resident's area. The feedback app allows citizens to inform authorities about incidents such as broken public facilities, etc.

Cashless Payments

Singapore is shifting toward a contactless payment approach to rid residents of carrying hard cash. Today, their residents can pay their bills at retail shops, restaurants, and other places via bank wallet apps and QR codes using smartphones. It makes the city more secure for the residents.

Bottom Lines

Singapore has successfully implemented up-to-date technological innovations in provision of smart housing, digital health care service, improved mobility, and cashless society which are the key factors that determine the level of the quality of life for city residents.

The government of Bangladesh have already taken initiatives like the Dhaka Smart City Development project. It is expected that Dhaka will overcome its issues and build a livable and smart city environment in future.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Rifat Tabassam

Quelle/Source: United News of Bangladesh, 08.11.2023

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