Mandalay: Becoming Myanmar's First Smart City in 2019-2020

Once a seat of kings, the city of Mandalay in central Myanmar has seen turbulent chapters in its 162-year history. With ambitions of becoming a genuine smart city, thanks to an eclectic team of doctors, engineers, lawyers, writers, journalists and IT experts, it is now in the midst of a high-tech makeover at the government’s behest.


Authorities in Mandalay are tapping social media and new technologies to revamp a lethargic bureaucracy in a country where officials still largely labor with pen and ink, surrounded by stacks of moldering papers. 

Smart-city plans have become popular with cities around the world striving to use IT to become more efficient. Technology allows city officials to interact directly with infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city. The MCDC has been using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to change the way Mandalay manages traffic, collects road tolls, fixes roads, cleans its streets and charges for water.

Installed censors are keeping track of water pipelines and water meters in real time to detect leaks. Mandalay is also trying to cope with piles of garbage clogging drainage system and exacerbating rainy season floods. The city drew up a waste management plan to maximize trash collection and the three Rs; reduce, reuse, recycle. The city tries to implement the plan B setting up designated public bins and promoting their use in schools. The MCDC has also fixed the city’s garbage trucks with GPS tracking devices which monitor their routes and alert the control center if the trucks deviate.

The development committee has also been adapting Singapore’s system for managing its wet markets to fit Mandalay. Taking advantage of the rapid growth of social media, the MCDC is also gathering data from city employees via popular social media applications.

However, some of the attempts to push through change have met with resistance. Some employees deliberately disabled the devices by flooding them with water after fitting the garbage trucks with tracking devices. Some lawmakers have challenged some of the MCDC’s projects and criticized for spending money on high-tech software and equipment in parliament. 

As for the human resource shortage, the MCDC recently began recruiting computer science and engineering graduates but the shortage was made only worse after 20 employees were fired for corruption.

Some citizens are worried that some of the smart-city projects could diminish Mandalay’s heritage and damage its historic buildings. People have also complained about the committee’s recent decision to replace the iron railing that surrounds Mandalay Palace with a steel one. 

However, as a result of the concerted efforts of MCDC to develop the city’s ICT infrastructure during the past three years, 24-country Information Communication Technology (ICT) Federation Organization established in Tokyo in 1984 – gave Mandalay the award at a ceremony in Bangkok.

In 2040, it aims to reduce flood risks and manage the city’s trash, water and wastewater systems with the aid of high-tech solutions by working with the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development and JICA on an urban development plan.If you are interested in 3-star hotel in Mandalay near tourist attractions, visit Shwe Ingyinn Hotel.