1 April 2023
Royal University of Phnom Penh

PI: Dr Harvey Neo (LKYCIC, SUTD)
Co PI: Dr Samuel Chng, Dr Jose Rafael Martinez Garcia (LKYCIC, SUTD)
Team: Ms Sarah Wong I-Mae, Ms Dolphie Bou, Ms Flora Du Yuting, Ms Liu Xiaohan (LKYCIC, SUTD)
Collaborators: Assoc Prof Lynette Cheah (ESD, SUTD), Assoc Prof Richard Tay (RMIT), Mr Bayi Li (TU Delft)

Building a healthier and more mobile society poses various challenges for cities in Southeast Asia. These challenges became particularly apparent emerging from the pandemic, where valuable insights to the importance of expecting the unexpecting, the central role of technology in our society, and complex, contingent ways people and their cities are connected were gained.

There are two projects in this research.

Project 1: Simulated futures of electric vehicles: Comparing the socio-environmental dilemmas of electrification in Southeast Asia

Mirroring the global trend, Southeast Asia is experiencing a rise in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs are considered environmentally friendly due to their reduces reliance on fossil fuels and lower carbon emission, the positive aspects of EVs must be measured against the environmental impact of producing electricity and generation of electronic waste. Moreover, the electrification of vehicles does not necessarily mitigate urban congestion (an intractable problem in in Southeast Asian cities) nor can one assume the cities to have the resource to develop the infrastructure vital for electrification.

This project aims to develop an analytical framework that situates transport electrification policies in an iterative relationship between other policy goals (such as relieving congestion, promoting public transport, improving urban environment). The project will also produce a simulation of the future of electric vehicles in selected Southeast Asian cities by comparing the socio-economic dilemmas of electrification.

Project 2: Quantifying walking, walkways and walkability in urban Southeast Asia: Integrating historical-cultural and socio-economic perspectives

Walkability studies in urban Southeast Asia often overlook important factors that contribute to low walkability scores. They focus on overwhelmed infrastructures like crowded walkways and lack of greenery. However, this narrative is incomplete, and neglects the historical and multi-functional nature of walkways in Southeast Asian cities, which serve as spaces for businesses and personal mobility devices. Additionally, the assumption of an innate desire to walk among citizens, hindered by poor design, is questionable. Lastly, qualitative differences in walking experiences in dense urban areas are largely ignored. As such, a more comprehensive study, considerate of historical-cultural and socio-economic factors, is needed.

This project aims to develop and validate a walkability index for urban Southeast Asia that accounts for the multi-functional use of walkways, while investigating the historical-cultural and socio-economic considerations that underlie walking decisions.