Makassar turns its smart city ambition into reality

Makassar is combining smart solutions with local wisdom in overcoming the challenges posed by an increasing population and rapid urbanization. A key economic hub in Indonesia, the city is the largest in South Sulawesi where it accounts for 20% of the population and more than 50% of the gross domestic product. The economy is built on trade, construction, and manufacturing, and it is growing rapidly.

Under its vision of a Sombere (“kindhearted”) and Smart City, Makassar has embarked on an ambitious smart city program that is guided by cultural values. It is part of a network of 26 smart cities under an initiative started by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2018. The initiative’s primary goal is to improve the lives of citizens by using technology to enhance the delivery of services, make cities more livable and inclusive, and ensure that no one is left behind.

To attain its goal, the city is developing the Makassar Livable City Plan with the help of the ASEAN Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund (AASCTF), which is funded by the Government of Australia and managed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The plan will provide a strategic framework for urban development backed by data-driven digital tools for evidence-based decision-making.

Digital tools include a stakeholder engagement dashboard, a tool for prioritizing smart city investments, a web-based GIS platform developed by the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, and a digital climate resilience platform created by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Makassar is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards, such as typhoons, floods, and even tsunamis. Urban resilience planning is important for the sustainable development of the city.

Among the initial steps taken in developing the livable city plan was to evaluate the urban environment and population to gain a holistic understanding of the city’s needs and challenges, as well as the views of citizens.

The Makassar Urban Situation Assessment identifies key issues and potential interventions. For example, the report notes that the number of older persons within the population is increasing because of higher life expectancy. Potential measures include expanding integrated services for older persons and facilitating their access to services, particularly for those who number among the urban poor. Technology may be used to enhance the delivery of services, such as through digital or virtual health services. The report adds that this is particularly useful in providing older persons with “ongoing and long-term services under COVID-19 conditions.”

During the pandemic, Makassar has looked to smart solutions to control the spread of the virus. It tapped geospatial technology in designing and calibrating measures to mitigate risks. Medical frontline workers collect data using computer tablets and mobile devices to identify pandemic hotspots and to inform emergency planning. The city uses a visual data platform to plot the data on a digital map to show how the virus is spreading.

Using spatial pandemic-related data from Makassar, a manual was developed to support resilient planning in the city and beyond.


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