Faced with daunting costs for urban technology upgrades, the government of Thailand is actively fostering private smart city partnerships.

Singapore’s e27 News examined Thailand’s recent prioritization of private smart city partnerships.

Under a government plan to accelerate smart cities around the country, Thailand has called on private industry to launch ventures devoted to innovation, asset management and city development.

The initial phase of the plan is focused on the provinces of Phuket, Chiang Mai and Kon Kaen.

Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society Minister, Pichet Durongkaveroj, said the outreach to the private sector is to bridge the funding gap for developing smart cities.

“Smart cities cannot be developed by only the state, as their development requires massive funds,” said Pichet.

He added that the government is also pushing private-public collaborations because they offer better opportunities for long-term investment.

Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency is supervising the smart city initiative. Under the initiative, Phuket became the first city to feature a private-public partnership, with an $11 million project aimed at building the local digital economy.

Chang Mai is next?

Next up Chiang Mai is launching smart city partnerships this year with a budget of $1 million. Kon Kaen will follow next year with an initial budget of around half a million dollars.

As part of a long term government strategy Phuket and Chiang Mai are being highlighted as investment centers for technology. As part of this emphasis, the government hopes to develop these areas into “super clusters” for digital innovation in security, the environment, tourism, education and healthcare.

Eventually, the government hopes to expand such projects from these initial three locales to build smart cities across Thailand.

It was previously reported that Phuket is piloting smart city projects to help the police with enforcing traffic laws and improve the transportation system. Phuket is also building new centers of operation to monitor data and services.

The smart city projects in Phuket emerged out of a partnership agreement between the Thai city and the South Korean city of Busan.