Smart cities need to put education at the heart of their design. The interactions created by these places of learning will foster innovation and development in and for these cities. This is the approach being taken by Sunway City, in Kuala Lumpur, as well as in other campuses found in cities in India, and the economic benefits can be significant.
Education, like agriculture, the environment, and public services, is one of the main areas where new concepts and initiatives can be developed for the cities of tomorrow and can facilitate the development and growth of these cities.
Qualcomm's global head of smart cities, Sanjeet Pandit, makes it one of the three pillars in his "game-changing list," a list of areas to invest in to develop smart cities. "Opening the doors of delivery of a quality education to students across the world should be leveraged and not only for business opportunities," he said in a discussion with Fierce Electronics. Because a city with good quality education would inevitably attract students, promote innovation and collaboration through new technologies and, ultimately, the development of cities.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunway City has made education one of its priorities. Cited for its innovation lab -- the Sunway Labs Innovation (iLabs) -- Sunway City has become a recognized place for startups to incubate and develop projects. In the Malaysian Reserve, Sunway Group's director of innovation Matt van Leeuwen says the development of the lab was based on students' thoughts and the types of markets they wanted to work in in the future. Five key sectors were identified, including "EduTech" (education technology).
This EduTech lab is changing the traditional education model to one where learning is driven by technology. This includes gamification, problem solving, networking and connected campuses. The programming school Ecole 42, for example, opened a campus (42KL) on the site in July 2020.
Sites of collaboration and growth
Bringing multiple fields of study together on a single campus can help enhance innovation and economic activity.
The media outlet City Today News notes that education "is a perfect candidate for being the economic activity around which new cities can be built." It cites Indian cities such as Nalanda or Taxila, and points to the fact that they have brought together students and professors from different fields in the same place. This presence in the same geographical location promotes collaboration and fosters innovation.
Thus, areas such as Sunway City or Nalanda, are becoming places of innovation, attracting new students, and there is a positive impact on many jobs.
Acceleration of EduTech during the pandemic
One problem persists in many locations: the digital divide. Education in the city of tomorrow needs to solve the issue of access to digital tools in order to make this model work.
For example, in 2017 in the United States, a report by the Department of Education noted that there was still a gap between students who actively used technology in learning and those who only used it to passively consume content.
In 2019, a study conducted by the consulting firm Deloitte found that 40% of teachers do not consider the school in which they teach to be leading the way in terms of implementing technology learning.
Due to the importance of distance learning during the covid-19 pandemic, the deployment of technology in schools and in training has accelerated rapidly and has revealed during the first months, the weaknesses and shortcomings of teaching with technology.