Phuket’s Leap Into Tomorrow: The Smart City Paradigm

Teerin Julsawad

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Once upon a time, Phuket was known for its pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, and seasonal waves of tourists. But fast forward to today, and you’ll find an island that has deftly charted a course beyond sun, sea, and sand to the heart of technological innovation.

Sure, it still has those sparkling beaches, but Phuket’s transformation from a resort city to a smart city is nothing short of remarkable. And it’s not just about fancy tech, either. It’s about creating a smarter, safer, and more sustainable environment for both residents and tourists alike.

Phuket 2.0: The Smart City transformation

The interior of the Phuket Smart Bus
Source: Denis Costille / Shutterstock.com

Phuket has metamorphosed into a smart city, armed with technology to tackle overtourism and improve the quality of life for everyone. By leveraging partnerships with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Japan Association for Smart Cities in ASEAN, Phuket has become a digital wonderland.

Picture this: Free public Wi-Fi, GPS-enabled buses, security cameras with data analytics, “smart piers” with digital IDs, and environmental sensors for real-time data on water reserves, tide levels, and air quality. That’s Phuket for you, a place where innovation is just part of daily life.

Born and bred innovation in Phuket

Far from resting on its laurels, Phuket is breeding its own homegrown innovations. Here are just a few examples:

1. Emergence of tech ecosystem: Phuket’s tech ecosystem is witnessing rapid growth, thanks to innovative tech start-ups, emerging co-working spaces, tech events, and green transport initiatives such as the Charge & Chill campaign.

2. Education and tech talent cultivation: The Phuket Smart City Innovation Park functions as an innovation hub, fostering tech learning and development. The park houses the Building Information Modelling (BIM) innovation center, acting as a virtualized city for in-depth study of development and investment. The park also offers an exploratory learning center for the Internet of Things (IoT), making technology from global IT vendors accessible.

Key contributors to this growth include Prince of Songkla University, which nurtures future tech talent, and the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), which provides business consultation for tech startups and encourages digital investment.

3. Digital infrastructure enhancements: As part of Phuket’s digital transformation, CAT Telecom is rolling out 1,000 public free Wi-Fi access points, initially made available in Patong and Phuket Old Town.

4. Smart governance: The city is adopting a holistic approach that includes improvements in economy, tourism, environment, healthcare, education, and smart governance, all with the aim of achieving a “Smile, Smart, and Sustainable Phuket.”

5. Safety, security, and surveillance: The city is working to integrate its city-wide installation of CCTVs for analytic purposes, providing real-time monitoring and alerts. The integration of smart data analytics solutions is underway to enhance safety measures against epidemics, crimes, and environmental threats. Furthermore, innovative smart community platforms and mobile applications are being developed for advanced data collection, analysis, and processing to further improve public security and attract tourists.

6. Promoting tourism: Various initiatives are in progress to bolster Phuket’s status as a marine city, including the integration of a tourist database of yacht services in the Andaman, with Chalong Pier functioning as the yacht checkpoint.

Phuket’s global appeal

The Phuket Smart Bike initiative
Source: Boophuket / Shutterstock.com

Phuket’s innovative spirit and smart city infrastructure are making waves in the tech world, drawing in international companies and startups alike. Among them is the Australian data center Edge, reflecting Phuket’s ability to attract and support technologically advanced operations. Moreover, the island’s status as an ASEAN Smart City Network member positions it in an influential role, sharing its innovations and learning from other smart cities across Southeast Asia.

Yet, the appeal of Phuket extends beyond tech prowess. The island’s tropical climate, stunning landscapes, and rich culture, coupled with modern amenities, make it an irresistible destination for global tech talent. This balance of lifestyle and innovation forms a compelling combination, solidifying Phuket’s reputation as an emerging global innovation hub.

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Teerin Julsawad

An NYU and Columbia alum, Teerin spent a vibrant decade immersed in NYC life, with a stint at The New Yorker for good measure. Now he stirs his creative pot in Bangkok, mixing journalism, design, and digital marketing into an enticing concoction, always keen on forging meaningful connections through his craft.

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