Designing a Sustainable Framework for Inclusive Smart City: Harnessing Findings and Lessons from a Study of Selected Local Governments in Kedah Malaysia



The smart city concept originates from the search for building an equilibrium approach to sustainable development that aims to synergize environmental dimensions with economic and social changes. It is estimated that by 2050 more than two thirds of the world population will live in cities. However, the world has witnessed that rapid urbanization can lead to greater urban poverty, massive deforestation, profound social instability, water crises, and devastating spread of diseases. These risks have further exacerbated as more people have migrated from rural areas to cities. How effective these risks can be addressed will largely depend on how well the cities are governed. As such, the smart city concept is an innovative way to try to mitigate those risks. By creating a balance that links economics, social, and environmental dimensions, it is hopeful that rapid urbanization will now be driven by creating a sustainable quality of life for citizens that empower them to collaborate with the city councils to develop the city. The planned urbanization will now incorporate residents’ quality of life, social inclusion, and economic opportunities while reducing the impact of environmental degradation. Therefore, an urban development model that is more social and environmentally friendly is important to ensure that our cities are both efficient and resilient. Building upon this foundation, this paper aims to examine to what extent local governments in Kedah are ready to design a smart city concept that focuses on citizen needs, embracing citizen-centric design, and promote engagement of citizens and communities. Using qualitative approach that focuses on interviews with local administrators, the study hopes to unearth current urban development model and whether this development takes into consideration the important of inclusive smart city as part of the government initiative to pursue a sustainable quality of life for the city residents in Kedah. The findings of this study reveal four important themes: inclusivity, governance, implementation, and challenges. Smart city concept is a viable solution to solve the dilemmas of urbanization. However, transformation to smart city requires the design of a more inclusive and accessible features to advance and promote engagement of all citizens.

Keywords: Smart City Concept, Inclusivity, Sustainable quality of life, Local Governments, Kedah.

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