Digital transformation has led to innovation and productivity growth across sectors. In the Southeast Asian region, it has helped in changing the development paradigm towards growth driven less on the demand side by exports and more on the supply side by increase in productivity, enabling countries to move up the value chain. Further, digitalisation in transport and logistics has remained important for trade facilitation.

Southeast Asia Infrastructure presents key technological updates across the Southeast Asian region…

Maritime transportation

Digitalisation in the marine industry has led to optimising existing processes, creating new business opportunities and transforming supply chains and the geography of trade. Further, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are easing transactions and real-time-based tracking.

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), Singapore, uses AI to provide recommendations for the most efficient distribution of anchorage spaces where ships can be docked. The algorithm assesses data such as the available spaces and the purpose of the ship’s travel to make these suggestions. It aims to shorten the amount of time that ships are anchored at sea or docked, boosting the port’s productivity. This system also allows for easier data sharing between the port, ships and relevant services like refuelling teams. This data sharing helps ensure that services can be delivered as soon as a ship docks, enabling a faster turnaround time.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company, Thailand, has implemented the Codex Electronic Delivery Order (e-DO) service for the digitalisation of deliveries. The e-DO solution automatically updates information when a terminal releases cargo by providing electronic goods release certificates and shipment status updates 24 hours a day. Further, the digital transfer of documents aims to reduce congestion at the counters, eliminate paper, and promote cost savings. This will also result in reducing manual processing, increasing security and minimising the possibility of errors.

The Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia has agreed to deploy Innovez One’s AI-powered Port Management Information System, MarineM, to improve efficiency and optimise its scheduling. MarineM will provide an interface where agents can register their vessels and order services to support arrivals such as supplies, logistics and marine services. Using AI and machine learning algorithms, MarineM’s planning module will automatically manage schedules and dispatch resources. It will also enable agents to monitor the status of their orders in real time and will automate the billing process.

Land transportation

Increasingly, new technologies, designs and construction methods are being deployed during the construction and maintenance phases to mitigate challenges in the construction of roads, bridges and railway tracks. New interfaces and displays are being used to provide real time data to human operators. As per the MyDigital Catalytic Projects Task Force (CPTF), Malaysia, smart solutions such as smart highway and smart mobility will be used in the transportation and logistics sector to enhance road safety, reduce congestion and provide a seamless mobility experience to road users. Additionally, the CPTF is supporting the adoption of electric vehicles in Malaysia 2030 vision.

In another notable development, MSA Resources Sdn Bhd (MSAR) has received approval to construct and operate fibre optic cables along highways in Malaysia under the supervision of the Malaysian Highway Authority. The highway digital network project, worth RM 300 million, will make Malaysia a strategic big data hub in the ASEAN region. It is expected to be fully completed by 2025. The project will be built along the highway in Peninsular Malaysia in three phases of construction. Phase 1 involves the installation of fibre optic cable from Johor Bahru to Bukit Kayu Hitam. Phase 2 involves highways in the Klang Valley and Phase 3 will connect the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia. Further, NEC Indonesia has developed a portfolio of solutions that can help governments control traffic congestion, using technologies such as AI and the internet of things, recognising the need for safe, secure, smooth and smart transportation systems.

Recently, to collaborate and leverage digital technologies in Singapore, a memorandum of understanding has been signed between Thales and Singapore Mass Rapid Transit [SMRT] Trains. The SMRT engineering teams will bring common problem statements to be addressed from a rail operator’s perspective, which both teams can work on. Besides, Thales will bring its expertise as a technology partner with its in-depth knowledge in communicationsbased train control signalling and rail control systems, and best practices in data analytics technologies. Huawei Smart Railway Solution is supporting the Laos-China Railway in its digitalisation efforts, enabling advances in safety and security across all aspects of the railway, including construction, operations and maintenance. At the same time, Huawei is working closely with telecom operators in Laos to build a high speed network and ensure stable connectivity.

Air transportation

The aviation industry is actively using digital innovation due to its cost structure, security dependence and competition intensity to improve customer experience and financial performance. Under a request from the Ministry of Transport, the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) will explore the feasibility of non-stop toll collection using camera recognition technology at airports across the country. ACV will research and invest in upgrading equipment to ensure that screening services and aviation security checks are provided for passengers in a timely and efficient manner.

At Changi Airport, work has resumed on the Terminal 5 project in Singapore after a twoyear delay due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Building and Construction Authority has approved the terminal as a Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy Building. Solar panels, intelligent building management systems, district cooling, and thermal energy storage will all be installed in the terminal building to minimise the carbon footprint. Airport operations will also be automated and digitalised to enhance customer satisfaction and boost operational efficiency. Some technologies that are planned include the deployment of autonomous vehicles for baggage and cargo transportation and robotics for baggage handling.

The way ahead

Going forward, digital technologies will influence and reshape transport behaviour across the Southeast Asian region. Further, increasing competition has led transport authorities to focus on improving efficiency and productivity through modernisation and mechanisation of their facilities as well as digitalisation of operations. While efforts are being made to make information technology systems more reliable, challenges that need focus are snags in operation and security concerns, among others.