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Thales to support Indonesia’s new smart capital city with digital ID and more

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance
Thales to support Indonesia’s new smart capital city with digital ID and more
 

Indonesia’s new capital, Nusantara, presents ample opportunity for French digital security and defense firm Thales to support smart city initiatives, according to an article in Nikkei Asia.

Thales has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Indonesia’s new capital city authority “for strategic cooperation” around the transformation of Nusantara, a planned sustainable metropolis set to replace Jakarta as Indonesia’s capital, with transition slated to begin in August 2024.

According to Olivier Rabourdin, president director at Thales Indonesia, the smart city could present up to $300 million in contractual opportunities. While the European giant is known for its presence in the defense and aerospace sectors, it is increasingly invested in biometrics and digital identity. The MOU with Indonesia specifies that Thales’ collaboration on Nusantara will focus on “development of smart city concepts, including digital identity, traffic management of unmanned aircraft systems, cybersecurity and data centers.”

The plan to move Indonesia’s capital away from Jakarta was hatched in 2019 by President Joko Widodo, AKA Jokowi, who cites concerns about rising sea level, overcrowding and susceptibility to natural disasters as reasons to relocate. According to the New York Times, 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level, as the city sinks due to the proliferation of illegal wells that have drained and deflated the aquifer on which it stands.

Nusantara, on the island of Borneo, is more geographically central to the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia, and more sheltered from threats such as volcanoes and floods. While the region is relatively remote, the hope is that the new capital, imagined as a green metropolis run on sustainable energy and aligned towards the nation’s pledge of zero net carbon emissions by 2060, will spur surrounding development.

Thales says development will begin in 2024 on smart city projects for Nusantara, including an automated aircraft traffic control system, disaster management, and measures to solve overcrowding and traffic congestion. The city could be the political swan song for President Widodo, who has prioritized digital public service reforms, as he is prohibited by the constitution from seeking a third term after his current one expires in February of next year. His impending exit has made some foreign firms wary of jumping in on Nusantara in the way Thales has. But, beyond utopian urbanism and the potential for market expansion in Asia, company representatives tell Nikkei there are other factors driving Thales’ interest – namely, the heightened potential for conflict in the South China Sea and surrounding waters, should China decide to test global patience for a fresh round of imperialism.

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