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The journey of Hulhumalé towards becoming a smart island city

September 19, 2019 : 1:01 pm

In a country with a total population of over 400,000 people, the idea of creating a connected, smart city seems farfetched for many. Hulhumalé has ambitious plans to become a global city which welcomes the world to this City of Hope, island nation and people of the Maldives. Residents of Hulhumalé will become a part of a historical change in the country where they will witness and become a part of many first of its kind developments in the country.

Initiated in 1997, Hulhumalé is the first fully-reclaimed, pre-planned city of the country located within 3 kilometers from Malé, the capital city. Curving a welcoming path for its development in early 2015 Hulhumalé Phase II was reclaimed with the additional 244 hectors. The newly reclaimed addition to the existing conurbation promises diverse development opportunities. Hulhumalé Phase I currently houses over 50,000 people with the target population of 80,000 people. With the new developments, Phase II plans a populous of 160,000 people.

As the city developer working to build Hulhumalé, it is our vision to create state of the art smart communities in the city. We have taken our stand and the role of broader development as successfully realizing this vision would mean our residents to enjoy unrivalled opportunities in terms of economic growth, major transformation of government services, businesses and lifestyle of residents.

The term ‘Smart Cities’ is broad and ambiguous, with no agreed definition or consensus on how cities should approach the agenda. The use of smart technologies and data as the means to solve cities’ sustainability challenges such as economic, social and environmental issues are the common denominators in most of the smart city definitions. We believe that the key to creating a smart city is one that provides an enhanced urban experience for everyone in the community, solving the most pressing urban issues including mobility, energy, water supply, security, pollution, housing, and inclusion.

The digital transformation journey of this island city began with the initiation of creating Hulhumalé as Asia’s first 100% gigabit enabled smart city by implementing an Open Access Network which will pave way in terms of economic evolution, digitalization of government services, businesses and lifestyles of the residents. As such, this network enables for a digital solution that will transform the whole economic and social outlook of the Maldives.

As we embark on this smart cities journey, an online portal named ‘MyHulhumalé Portal’ was launched for the residents of Hulhumalé allowing the users to make online payments, apply for construction and municipal related services, take digital copies of permits as well as track the status of their requests. Additionally, this portal features a problem reporter which can be utilized to submit complaints or requests anonymously, review existing reports and vote on observations submitted by other users. Detailed maps of the city pinpointing key facilities such as ATM’s, hospitals, hotels and bus stops are also available on MyHulhumalé portal.

Hulhumalé aspires to be a green, civil and modern city with sustainable developments to create a better life for its citizens by 2030. In line with this agenda, a smart city action plan for the next 10 years have been implemented.

Our action plan comprises of objectives for the development of a transport master plan including smart city components such as Smart Traffic Management Systems, Automatic Surveillance, ERP Systems promising efficient and public transportation systems. Furthermore, our utility services grids including water, electricity, fire and sewerage systems are being reviewed to update the existing grids to smart city grids.

Development of a Geographic Information System (GIS), web applications and a dashboard is in progress as well, which will enhance the community engagement through smart and efficient ICT solutions.

Amid all of the enthusiasm over smart cities, the most important element of any city would be the citizens themselves. Our community development project ‘Mansa’ which is a platform for sharing meaningful ideas through storytelling, dedicated it’s very first topic based on creating smart people for this upcoming smart city.

Digital technology will shape the future of Hulhumalé and the small island nation of Maldives, while its true growth will be guided by the concerns of residents, businesses & diverse opinions of its population. With an amalgamation of all this, it sure is going to redefine the quality of living in this city located in the isles of Maldives. ­