Digital Bangkok: Building a City of Intelligence That Puts People First
Kevin Cheng, president enterprise business group, Huawei Technologies (Thailand), details how technology is aiding Bangkok to become a city of intelligence, while at the same time keeping social development front and centre to prioritise what matters to citizens.
Asia is one of fastest growing regions in the world, demonstrating a high appetite for digital development to create new growth opportunities for both its business landscape and its citizens. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, or 4IR, is well underway and Huawei technology provides the backbone for much of this digital transformation, supporting urban, social and economic development in a sustainable way.
Thailand is an excellent example of rapid digital transformation, with the country’s government implementing a number of initiatives to promote the evolution of 4IR. Introduced in 2019, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative aims to transform three Thai provinces into smart cities by encouraging investment, promoting innovation, and training people with digital skills. EEC sits at the heart of the country’s 20-year ‘Thailand 4.0’ strategy, which seeks to make the country achieve high-income status by 2036. A key part of this vision is a focus on smart cities.
As part of the drive towards developing modern smart cities, Thailand recognises the importance of a skilled workforce in meeting the fast-evolving needs of the business world. As next-gen technologies such as AI are on the rise, it’s essential that citizens have the right skills and mindset to work with them. Accelerated by the pandemic, the need for digital skills has never been greater.
Thailand’s strategy relies on a collaboration between the private and public sectors, and academic institutes to implement initiatives to nurture a digital-savvy workforce. For example, one approach focuses on evolving the country’s educational curricula, across primary and vocational schools and universities, to ensure that students emerge with the necessary STEM skills. Government agencies such as the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has also introduced incentive schemes to encourage the private sector to invest in training.
People are at the core of Thailand’s vision for a modern, digital city and at Huawei, we are supporting Thailand with the technology needed to create a sustainable urban life for the local population. We have been instrumental in the implementation of 5G, cloud services and data intelligence across a variety of sectors including healthcare, education and transportation. In 2019, we set up the Huawei ASEAN Academy to further support the visionary Thailand 4.0 strategy, which so far has provided upskilling and reskilling training for over 41,000 local ICT professionals as well as over 1,300 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Education is a big focus for the Thailand 4.0 strategy, and Huawei is helping to support the digital transformation of the learning experience. Success stories include transforming the IT infrastructure of the renowned King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Bangkok. Previously, each of the university’s faculties had a separate IT network, resulting in higher costs. KMUTT needed to move towards a unified IT platform and so Huawei proposed its Cloud Campus Solution to boost efficiency and help the institution reach both its educational and research objectives.
Similar to the solution applied in KMUTT, Huawei’s network technology also helped Srinakharinwirot University (SWU), Thailand’s first tertiary education institution to offer teacher training since 1949, to better prepare the digital needs in the next five to 10 years. On one hand, Huawei Cloud Campus allows the use of smart applications through the network, with the high-speed core switch bringing a 20-fold increase in bandwidth; on the other, Huawei Agile Controller, with Huawei SDN and eSight, enabled SWU to organise, monitor and categorise various group users, based on priorities and bandwidth requirements, regardless of users’ location. The high-bandwidth and low-latency campus networks benefit tens of thousands of students and faculty with improved wireless network coverage and campus security.
Another example is Krirk University in Bangkok, one of the most reputable private universities in Thailand. Having partnered with several other higher education institutions, both in Thailand and worldwide, Krirk needed a platform for collaborative online learning so it turned to the Huawei IdeaHub. This intelligent device includes an interactive whiteboard and high-definition video conferencing to enable campuses to transform e-learning. The technology enables lecturers and students at Krirk to join immersive face-to-face lessons and collaborate in real time, promoting easier access to education for all.
Empowered by Huawei technologies, Siriraj Hospital introduced 5G autonomous vehicles for contactless delivery of medical supplies
Along with universities, Huawei is also playing a vital role in enhancing the IT infrastructure of teaching hospitals in Thailand. For example, Walailak University Hospital turned to Huawei to fulfil its goals of becoming the largest smart hospital in the south of Thailand. As part of its ambitious expansion plans, the teaching hospital implemented our Campus Network Solution including an ultra-fast wireless network, the USG6000E Series Firewall and VPN Gateway for protecting confidential information, and our iMaster NCE-campus autonomous network management system.
What’s more, the solution included the unique Huawei iMaster NCE-CampusInsight, an intelligent analysis platform that proactively identifies potential network errors. Our technology has helped the hospital to create a centralised and easy-to-use infrastructure control and maintenance system, reducing on-site monitoring, time, and costs.
Another successful transformation story is that of Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, Thailand’s largest public hospital and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. Visited by more than three million patients every year, the hospital also serves as a medical school and rapidly became the hub of the country’s response to the pandemic in early 2020. However, an ageing population and rising healthcare costs meant that the hospital needed to introduce digital technologies to improve its efficiency.
As a result, Huawei built an MEC-based 5G private network, a hybrid cloud and a 5G + Wi-Fi solution to enable the use of new medical applications, as part of the ‘Siriraj 5G Smart Hospital’ project. The hospital turned to cloud and AI-assisted applications, including computer vision and image analysis, in its fight against Covid-19. This was made possible by the Huawei-powered 5G network which enabled the hospital to process each case in just 25 seconds. The hospital also introduced 5G autonomous vehicles for contactless delivery of medical supplies. Outside of China, Siriraj Hospital is now considered to be one of the most successful blueprints for 5G and cloud technologies in the healthcare sector.
When the pandemic first struck Thailand, Huawei donated its Telemedicine Video Conference Solution to Thailand hospitals and Department of Disease Control (DDC), to support Thailand’s fight against Covid-19. The system was used by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul to express regards to the frontline medical staff.
With its people-centric approach to building a modern smart city, Thailand is a perfect example of the dynamic technology-led transformation happening across Asia right now. It’s clear that by focusing on people – whether that’s equipping the future workforce with the necessary digital skills, or investing in healthcare innovations that help the local population to thrive – is an essential part of the smart city puzzle. At Huawei, we will continue to support this kind of transformation with robust, next-gen IT innovations that provide a solid foundation for the smart cities of the future.
(This article was originally published by Smart Cities World and has been edited.)