There are 3 facts in current world that are unable to be denied by us are: 1) Digital technology highly affects to living and quality of life of current people; 2) Digital technology has been rapidly developed until we may out of date if we fail to keep up with such technology properly; and 3) children and juveniles like people in Gen Y and Gen Z are highly familiar with modern technology compared to the previous generations like Baby Boomer and Gen X.
If we accept those facts, we will see some opportunities to utilize digital technology and promote new generations in Gen Y and Gen Z to participate in using digital technology to improve the quality of people’s life in society, for example, using digital technology to develop Smart City, etc. Interestingly, this opportunity to utilize digital technology will be maintained in all areas and one of those areas is “southern border provinces”.
The term, Smart City, may be familiar with many people and they may recently hear this term from various kinds of media because Thailand is developing as a Smart City to improve quality of life of Thai people by applying digital technology like Internet of Thing (IoT) to improve efficiency and effectiveness on improvement of quality of life of people in society in various dimensions including transportation, energy consumption, infrastructure, business, education, environmental conservation, or security in life and assets.
However, to be successful in applying “Smart City” to enchance the people’s quality of life besides advancement of modern technology, another indispensable thing is personnel development by fostering persons related to “Smart City” to realize and feel to participate leading to cooperation to build those things.
Persons as mentioned above mean everyone in every generation in society including people in Baby Boomer, Gen X, and another Gens with significance on success of Smart City, i.e., Gen Y and Gen Z.
As mentioned above, the key to create new things like utilization of digital technology to improve quality of people’s life in such society as “Smart City” is humans or personnel and technology. These personnel must have creativity, enthusiasm, teamwork, technological skills, self-development, rapid learning, good self-adjustment with environment, and interaction with people.
Those characteristics are important characteristics of people in Gen Y and Z. With this reason, it is necessary to drive power of people in this Gen to create the way to improve quality of life under the concept of “Smart City” with other Gens.
Since Thai government realizes on importance of utilization of digital technology to improve quality of life of people in Thailand, Thai government, by Digital Economy Promotion Agency or DEPA under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) and participation of business and public sectors, participates in the concept on “Development of Pleasant and Modern City for Good Quality of Life and Sustainable Happiness of Local People.”
Currently, the government establishes the policy on development of smart city in main cities and less visited areas. For less visited areas, there are 15 areas that are defined to be developed as Smart Cities throughout Thailand. Moreover, there are also 50 areas in Thailand that are declared as Smart City Promotion Zones.
The most interesting thing is taking new generations back to the city as the important part to drive Smart City by selecting 30 representatives of young men and women throughout Thailand to act as “The Smart City Ambassadors” and holding some activities to stimulate and promote development on manpower and application of modern digital technology to manage city for benefits of local people in all regions of Thailand.
For example, The Smart City Ambassador of the north is Miss Methawee Tapad or Fah, a software engineer who is studying in Master of ICT for Smart Society Program at Politecnico di Torino, Italy, the northeast are Miss Warunee Wanmano who graduated in Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Khon Kaen University and Miss Kamonchanok Musikasoot from Khon Kaen University, of the southern border provinces is Miss Suthinee Chamniphaibul, a young female from Songkhla who from Chulalongkorn University and operated in Yala Smart City Project.
Miss Suthinee Chamniphaibul, a representative of people in Gen Y and Z and The Smart City Ambassador, revealed that performing operations as The Smart City Ambassador must start from understanding on Smart City Plan of Yala along with studying and understanding on context of the city as well as all problems and demands of the city in order to obtain the action plan that is consistent with the actual context of the city. Subsequently, each project was studied before giving suggestions on technology that could be applied to the city. Currently, Yala has already initiated many projects, for example, Lad Yala Fan Page, Line OA, YALA mobile app, Free Wifi, and so on.
The latest technology obtained by Yala from digital technology is the benefit that can be seen clearly during COVID-19 pandemic, i.e., Big Data that is utilized for managing measures on people’s travelling control leading to reduction of number of infected persons. In addition, there is also Smart Pole Project that is under the process of budget requesting. This project emphasizes on constructing structure of road surface that does not only give efficient lighting for road users but it also responds to the demand on danger monitoring and prevention as well as monitoring on city condition in various dimensions.
Besides several benefits obtained from Yala Smart City Project as mentioned above, there are also other benefits in other dimensions, for example, utilization of smart city digital technology to support tourism business, health services, measures on security in life and assets in the areas. The most important thing is utilization of Smart Governance or utilization of smart city digital technology to manage government management enabling government sector to be close to people and provide services to people more efficiently.
People’s life has been changed all the time, especially changes caused by smart city digital technology that is considered as one of many significant technologies for changes of people’s life in all dimensions including dimensions on quality of life, economy, income, safety in life and assets, and other dimensions. However, to apply this technology effectively, it must be driven by humans and persons who are mostly suitable for driving digital technology to be concrete are people in Gen Y and Gen Z.
Currently, smart city digital technology driving under the government’s policies is starting to be concrete to some extent in every region of Thailand. For southern border provinces, it is Yala Smart City that is reputed as the “Model Smart City”. Certainly, in the near future, we will see more concrete actions in Yala and other provinces in southern border provinces.