IBM in Penang’s RM10B 'breakthrough smart city ecosystem'

The RM10B smart city development in Penang will include 'Malaysia's first and most comprehensive cloud infrastructure and technology services ecosystem.'

By AvantiKumar
Jan. 11, 2017

An impression of Aspen Vision City (aspenvisioncity) Image (Aspen Vision City website) An impression of Aspen Vision City

Update: An indepth interview with the technology infrastructure leader Arshad Munir Sharif from IBM has been published 13 March 2017 on Computerworld Malaysia (Why Penang Aspen Vision may be a global Smart City model: exclusive)

A group of companies is collaborating to create a new RM10 billion (US$2.24 billion) smart city development in Penang, Malaysia, which will include a RM100 (US$22.36) million digital ecosystem with a cloud services infrastructure platform to serve both local and international users. 

Described as 'Malaysia's first and most comprehensive cloud infrastructure and technology services platform,' the project is driven largely by property group Aspen's subsidiary AG Innovation working closely with technology services giant IBM.

Witnessed in George Town by YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng, chief minister of Penang, and Dato' Seri Nazir Ariff, chairman and executive director of Aspen Group, the deal was sealed in the closing weeks of December 2016 by Dato' M. Murly, group chief executive officer, Aspen Group; Woo Kok Weng, executive director, Aspen Group; Ms Chong Chye Neo, managing director, IBM Malaysia and Arshad Munir Sharif, general manager, IBM Cloud, IBM Malaysia.

Aspen Group has confirmed the allocation of RM100 million for the smart city infrastructure ecosystem and the partnership with IBM accounts for an initial RM10.3 (US$2.30) million investment in a cloud infrastructure.

When finished, the ecosystem will provide a platform for multinationals, local businesses, start-ups and residents to scale their participation in the digital economy.

Economics of cloud computing

"The economics of cloud computing can potentially change the game for many businesses. We envisage new forms of business models would emerge by providing the platform for innovation to happen. I believe this will trigger a massive wave of innovation from techno-preneurs," said Aspen Group's M. Murly.

"The establishment of this cloud innovation platform will enable us to integrate the smart solutions for Aspen Vision City development," he said. "By infusing intelligence through innovative services, smart technologies and cognitive solutions, Aspen Vision City will become an attractive business and innovation destination for local and international organisations."

He added that the collaboration involved the purchase and subscription of IBM Blue Box, Bluemix, application development, technical services and consultancy for Aspen Group to create cognitive and next generation solutions and services globally.

The IBM enabled cloud services will help to bring together multiple data sources, scale systems and incorporate cognitive services to drive business value. It also enables businesses to create, deploy and manage services on the cloud.

An agile cloud system will also encourage the adoption cognitive apps by Penangites and Malaysians as well as spur a culture of innovation among students and enthusiasts.

RM10 billion development - Aspen Vision City

M. Murly said as a joint venture partnership between Aspen Group and Ikano, "this flagship development is planned to be a bustling hub. The development components include the regional integrated shopping centre and the first IKEA store in the Northern Region of Malaysia, both of which is to be managed by Ikano, Columbia Asia Hospital, mixed development of residences, offices, commercial districts, medical facilities, international business hotel, a 25-acre central park, an international school, retail shops and an integrated central transportation hub for Seberang Prai."

With a gross development value of RM10 billion, the first phase of Aspen Vision City is expected to be completed in 2018. The first phase includes Vervéa commercial precinct, Columbia Asia Hospital, IKEA store and part of the central park which will serve as a green oasis in the city.    

In August 2016, Aspen Group signed with Telekom Malaysia to help the deployment of smart services, high speed telecommunications as well as information and communication technology (ICT) services for Aspen Vision City development.

M. Murly added that Aspen Vision City will be the first and only integrated smart city in Malaysia with this level of infrastructure investment.

"This is undoubtedly an exciting project, with an immense potential to shape urban environments where the application of cognitive solutions can provide a positive and sustainable difference in the quality of life among the people and businesses here and beyond," he said.

The first version of this article appeared on Computerworld Malaysia 11 January 2017.

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