The development of smart city projects has become a trend in Vietnam. What are your thoughts on this?

This trend is emerging around the world. Vietnam has rapidly adopted technology through the use of mobile phones, smart home devices, and the internet. We were early in adopting the Internet of Things (IoT) in urban development. The government is developing an IoT platform that will connect all social institutions, administrative centers, businesses, transportation providers, logistics companies, and manufacturers. Smart cities will make use of these platforms to support further development. Vietnam has the flexibility to develop platforms like these. Real estate projects in the country will see sufficient benefits in IoT platforms to change their development approach.

What advantages are there in investing in smart city projects? How do developers make use of these advantages?

Vietnam’s population has recently reached over 98 million but it has over 100 million mobile subscriptions, and this is the most widely-used technology. The proportion of people using smartphones is already high, and faster mobile networks such as 5G are under development. For real estate projects using IoT to develop smart cities, these metrics provide a real advantage, making early adoption quicker and easier. This is a strength for real estate projects in Vietnam.

What planning, policy, or other challenges are there in developing smart cities?

The challenge is not just about legal procedures; it relates to institutional systems in city projects. Many authorities and institutions are involved in the real estate development process, such as Departments of Planning and Architecture, Departments of Natural Resources and Environment, and electricity suppliers. Having an IoT platform providing a central hub for these authorities and institutions helps to maximize the “smart” aspect of this type of real estate and its development efficiencies.

Everyone involved in a project will be able to quickly obtain clear information and data through a smart management system. All projects using this mutual interconnected platform will continue adding quality and synchronous information, which then becomes available to all. We need a unified platform that enables all smart city projects to be connected by mutually supporting systems in information, infrastructure, and traffic management.

Vietnam was one of only a few countries to have largely controlled Covid-19, but the recent outbreak has complicated matters. How will this affect smart city investment and development?

Covid-19 has dramatically increased awareness about the digital economy, with its effects forcing user behavior to change to more digitized activities. For example, being at home, many people cannot make transactions at bank branches, and the only way to do so at the moment is through banking apps or internet banking. In real estate, the smart city sub-sector is expected to undergo even more rapid development by taking advantage of early digital adoption. Transactions, payment methods, information control, and traffic - all elements essential to a smart city - are being digitized. People are more willing to adopt technology in their daily lives. Covid-19 has actually helped speed up the development of smart cities.