TradePosts – May 2023

In this Issue:

1. ASEAN: Smarter Approaches to Smart Cities 

2. Meeting Urban Challenges with Smart Mobility Solutions

Message from the Director

USTDA Director Enoh T. Ebong

Emerging economies are home to the world’s most populous and fastest-growing cities. Urban areas offer opportunities that draw a nation’s greatest talent, but they also face a common set of challenges that require customized solutions. Residents want access to sustainable public services that can keep up with the pace of economic activity. However, basic infrastructure is not always available to all, and city budgets are persistently constrained.

Throughout our 30-year history, USTDA has partnered with municipal governments, utilities, and private companies to address these challenges. A centerpiece of their strategy often involves the deployment of U.S. smart city and mobility solutions. USTDA assistance offers a tailored approach toward identifying the technologies and rollout options that are most appropriate for their needs.

Under the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, USTDA will continue to build its portfolio of urban-centric activities to close the infrastructure gap in developing countries using U.S. solutions.

I am pleased to introduce two members of USTDA’s staff who are helping to lead some of our efforts.

ASEAN: Smarter Approaches to Smart Cities 

By Brandon Megorden, Indo-Pacific Manager 

Rapid urbanization across Southeast Asia and rising expectations for quality public services are prompting the region’s cities to turn to smarter, more sustainable growth options. Many cities are investing in digital infrastructure to interact with citizens, collect and analyze data, and improve operations for transportation, power, water, sanitation, and other critical services. But how can cities prioritize infrastructure investments, optimize limited budgets, and navigate a complicated landscape of technology options to identify what best meets their needs?

Cities need modern foundational infrastructure to integrate advanced smart cities applications, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, and internet of things (“IoT”). But cities must also be mindful to not misspend public resources on long-term project commitments and technologies that make little economic sense. No two cities are alike, so right-sizing urban infrastructure investments and solutions requires a customized approach.

This is where USTDA plays an important role. The Agency engages directly with cities in Southeast Asia to develop smart city projects using life-cycle cost analyses, international best practices, and right-sized U.S. technology solutions so our partners can make more informed and financially sustainable investments. USTDA’s assistance is also helping cities to assess the state of their infrastructure and identify viable options for deploying next-generation technologies.

For example, a recently completed USTDA study is helping partners in Iskandar, Malaysia, to advance the development of a centralized command center and data management system. This “Urban Observatory” platform will provide policymakers and city managers an evidence-based approach for regional and city-level management based on real-time data and analytics solutions.

USTDA is supporting a similar effort with Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which intends to develop an Integrated Operations Center that will aggregate and present data on the real-time performance of municipal services including transportation, flood control, health, food security, and public safety.

USTDA is also partnering with Phuket, Thailand, to advance the buildout of its smart city data platform and upgrade core digital infrastructure to enhance city management and planning capabilities. This project will have a positive impact on the lives of local citizens and the millions of international tourists who visit Phuket each year.

USTDA’s project-preparation toolkit is well suited to deploy appropriate U.S. smart city solutions to the evolving needs of Southeast Asia’s cities. The Agency will continue to leverage these tools to support new smart city projects that advance sustainable urban development, promote digital economy growth, strengthen local governance, and foster new opportunities for technical and commercial cooperation with public and private sector partners across the ASEAN Region.

Meeting Urban Challenges with Smart Mobility Solutions

By Kevin Toohers, Indo-Pacific Manager

By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, compared to 56% today (Source: World Bank). Urbanization offers greater economic opportunity, but it can also stress transportation infrastructure, resulting in increased traffic congestion, road fatalities and vehicle emissions. In response to these challenges, emerging economies are turning to intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to facilitate safe, efficient and sustainable mobility for their urban residents.

U.S. industry offers cutting-edge ITS solutions that enable cities and governments to address complex transportation needs. Key technologies range from traffic signal coordination and automatic incident detection to improve the flow of roadway traffic, to smart traveler and “mobility as a service” tools that make transportation more reliable and convenient. And as electric vehicles are increasingly deployed, ITS solutions will be essential to enabling the transition to e-mobility.

Sound ITS investments offer benefits to both travelers and transportation agencies, but they are also highly complex to plan and implement. ITS projects often involve numerous stakeholders, including transportation agencies, transit operators, emergency responders and individual drivers, and planners must ensure that data and systems can be effectively shared and managed by these various users. Cities must also plan to prevent technology and systems from becoming defunct or obsolete.

The common thread to mitigate these challenges is solid project preparation. USTDA has decades of experience bringing U.S. private sector expertise to develop the business case, attract financing, and deploy ITS solutions that are sustainable, efficient and suited to the unique requirements of emerging economies.

For example, in Ecuador USTDA technical assistance is supporting plans by the Provincial Government of Manabí to modernize and integrate its road network using ITS technologies, with a focus on traffic corridors in cities and between key destinations such as seaports, airports and commercial centers. USTDA is also partnering with the Philippines’ Department of Transportation by funding a comprehensive plan to deploy ITS solutions in Metro Cebu, the Philippines’ second largest metropolitan area.

In addition to these activities, USTDA is building partnerships to advance emerging economies’ ITS goals. In September 2022, USTDA hosted transportation officials from Southeast Asia on a reverse trade mission to the United States, which included participation in the ITS World Congress in Los Angeles and meetings with U.S. companies and transportation agencies in California and Washington State. The visit allowed officials to engage up close with advanced U.S. solutions that can help meet Southeast Asia’s smart mobility needs.

With effective project preparation, cities can balance growth and the provision of efficient road infrastructure and reliable mass transit for their residents. USTDA’s partnership-based model of infrastructure development is bringing the best of what U.S. industry has to offer, to strengthen transportation systems and improve mobility for millions of people in emerging economies worldwide.