Thailand is currently implementing a Smart City initiative. The goal is to develop smart cities across the country in a manner that helps provinces develop according to their economic needs.
Phuket was the pilot city of the project, funded by the equivalent of US$11 million to begin developing a digital economy. The development of Chiang Mei is starting in 2017, with a starting budget of US$1 million, to be followed by Khon Kaen in 2018, with an initial budget of US$425,000. The Smart City initiative is a key part of the Thai government’s plan to move towards a digital economy. Phuket and Chiang Mei have been designated as intended super-clusters; investment centres for high-tech businesses.
The development of Phuket as a Smart City demonstrated to the government that collaboration with the private sector is an essential prerequisite to the project’s success. According to Digital Economy and Society Minister, Pichet Durongkaveroj:
Smart cities cannot be developed by only the state, as their development requires massive funds. […] The private sector should collaborate and jointly use information in an innovative way to develop smart cities and tackle major challenges.
As a result, the Thai government has called on private industry to form companies devoted towards city development, asset management and innovation, in order to support and accelerate the country’ s progress in carrying out the Smart City initiative. Local governments will be provided with the funds needed to support this process and foster public/private collaboration. This approach is expected to ensure that the project continues on schedule in case of delays in public funding, and to promote long-term investment and long-term continuity in Smart City operations.