Susheel Koul: Close Encounters of the Pulitzer Kind at Davos

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Susheel-KoulAs a first time participant at Davos, I was naturally thrilled to see many of the top leaders and thinkers of our time in person. I attended a brilliant breakfast session hosted by CNN anchor Richard Quest and found myself chatting to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman. Mr Friedman has written seminal works on globalisation and I was impressed that he knew a lot about Singapore (where I live) and the Singapore model of governance.

Singapore is a dynamic and smart city-state. It has many of the features I learned about while attending the Smart Cities/Smart Nations hosted by Deloitte and AT&T, such as smart infrastructure, smart connectivity and smart data. What I really liked in the session was how a smart city was defined: one that “engages several organizations and voices within a community to create a vision, implement a strategy, and plan for the future”.


This is an effective definition, one that those of us in Asia Pacific can relate and contribute to. For instance, the entry of Telensa, a firm that specializes in connected street lighting and Smart City applications, into Singapore last month signals that Singapore and its Asia Pacific neighbours are making their cities future-ready with better and more efficient street lighting among other innovations.

Other countries in the region are just as enthusiastic about embracing technology. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched initiatives such as Digital India and 100 Smart Cities and Startup India. In Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) Institute for Future Cities (IOFC) has developed the first platform in Hong Kong for integrating and analysing urban big data.

And in Southeast Asia, online shopping penetration is higher than rates in developed markets such as the U.S. and the UK. Around 50 to 80 percent of Southeast Asian consumers living outside cities are using their mobile phones to shop online, bypassing desktops entirely.

Smart technology and, in particular, mobile technology, is the way forward. And I’m eager to share my learnings about this from Davos with my clients and colleagues back in Asia.

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