5 Hottest Tech Jobs for ASEAN Smart Cities Network

smart city network

The population growth in Southeast Asia is expected to grow up to 717 million by 2030 (from 633 million in 2015). It is estimated that over half of them are under the age of 30, while 90 million more people are anticipated to urbanize at the same period of time. Combined with the growth in the technological sectors, rapid urbanization is increasing the level of sophistication in the economies.

This explains why urban planning and resource management are essential in developing smart cities empowered with technology advancements. The ASEAN Smart Cities Network is currently driven and led by Singapore, which is considered as an influential innovation hub that is able to synergize technological and innovative solutions for sustainable urban development.

As a part of the community-building of the ASEAN region, the smart cities initiative currently involves 26 pilot cities, namely:

  • Singapore
  • Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, and Johor Bahru
  • Thailand – Bangkok, Chonburi and Phuket
  • Philippines – Manila, Cebu City and Davao City
  • Brunei – Bandar Seri Begawan
  • Indonesia – Jakarta, Makassar, and Banyuwangi
  • Cambodia – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang
  • Vietnam – Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City
  • Laos – Vientiane and Luang Prabang
  • Myanmar – Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay

As ASEAN is full with young, diverse, talented and digitally savvy population, here are five smart city careers they should consider to make some contribution to our regional community according to TechRepublic.

1. Data Scientist

McKinsey estimates that the market will be short of 250,000 data scientists by the year 2019. During the period of inadequate human capital, data scientists will utilise artificial intelligence to perform human-like tasks – ultimately being able to operate and run smart cities efficiently. Bryan Ware, CEO of Haystax, considers a data scientist as a “unicorn job” that is able to transform human proficiency and judgments into AI form, which is trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amount of data.

The Malaysia City Brain Project, first announced in January 2018, is now utilizing AI capacity to address and better manage traffic congestion in real time. The key players in the project are

  • Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) leading the data analytics and project management
  • Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) offering access to camera live feeds, traffic light information or any events and road works
  • Alibaba Group providing cloud computing platform
  • Grab, the Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform, sharing traffic speeds and travel times for popular Kuala Lumpur routes


2. Machine Learning Engineers

Machine learning emphasizes on the development of software programs that can access data and self-learn and improve from experience. While data scientist’s final outputs are the analysed information, charts, models or visualizations for smart city business’ usage, a machine learning engineer’s output is the working software, which can actually complement other softeware components to run autonomously with minimal human supervision. Machine learning engineers are also important in most smart products & services ranging from online chess-playing games to governmental projects, such as Singapore’s National Digital Identity (NDI) system and e-government project.


3. Developers

Computer engineering is definitely a skillset that is vital in helping to develop an urban smart city, which can include software development, platform development, and database development. Young talents who are interested to explore a career in this field can consider establishing their credibility by getting involved in freelance projects that involve website or mobile app development to gradually build a strong portfolio and track record over time.

The Go-busway application is a good example established to maximize the passengers’ experience by using Transjakarta. The app was designed to allow users to track real-time bus location data derived from the onboard GPS in each vehicle. They can also check the bus’ routes, time schedule, and seat vacancy in real-time.  The city administration uses this app as a tool to monitor if the drivers take unauthorized breaks, especially during rush hours or not.


4. Cybersecurity Analyst

Largely due to better internet connection as well as smartphone adoption, ASEAN’s growing digital economy is expected to reach a value of USD200 billion by 2025. However, it is important to note that the more people with access to the internet, the greater the risk of our regional community being subjected to cybersecurity threats.

According to a report from A.T. Kearney, ASEAN needs to invest more on cybersecurity to safely safeguard and prevent threats that can derail our regional economic growth. The damage from the threats is fairly complicated, and in some cases, they can involve lawsuits and regulatory fines as well. Nowadays Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam have become global hotspots where hackers are using unsecure infrastructure to launch cyberattacks.


5. Cloud Architect

Smart city applications such as waste management, air quality control, smart street lighting system, e-payment gateway, and even rubbish truck trackers are now on the rise by huge contribution from solution providers. There is need to rationalize these unique applications and integrate them into a single cloud platform as a pool of the city’s application of choice. This is how cloud architects can play a vital role in developing the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.

Related: Building a Career in the Lucrative ASEAN Gaming Industry


Final Verdict

As the ASEAN chairman 2018, Singapore has introduced the ASEAN Smart Cities Network as one of the key initiatives aimed at improving the lives of ASEAN citizens using technology as the enabler. Therefore, the area of focus this year is to strengthen ASEAN’s resilience and expand its innovation capacity respectively. Finally, Singapore will take lead in addressing emerging security challenges such as transnational crime and terrorism.

Related: Top 5 Lucrative Career Paths for Business Graduates This Year


Written by: Jinjuta Masook

Jinjuta is a Program Officer at JICA Project Office for AUN/SEEd-Net, currently based in Bangkok Metropolitan Area, Thailand. She graduated from the Thammasat University with a Bachelor of Political Science and International Relations. She has had many voluntary experience representing her country in ASEAN conferences, such as the APAC4U 2016, the ASEAN Foundation, and United Nations ESCAP, just to name a few.

Feature Image is CC0 Licensed: Free for Commercial Use, No Attribution Needed


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