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Wang Bin, smart city solution director at Huawei Enterprise Business Group, details how the implementation of new technology has helped transform the Chinese cities of Suzhou and Shenzhen into two of the world’s leading smart city environments.

A distance of 900 miles isn’t the only thing that separates the Chinese cities of Suzhou and Shenzhen. These are cities that have grown in vastly different ways throughout their respective histories, with Suzhou an ancient town known for its canals (earning it the nickname ‘Venice of the East’) and UNESCO-recognised Classical Gardens, while Shenzhen’s rapid technology-led growth in the last 40 years makes the city more akin to San Jose or Mountain View. Despite their differences, these cities share one critical thing: smart technology strategies to make them smarter, more sustainable and more liveable.

In the grand scheme of things, the transformation of these two cities has happened in their recent respective histories. Suzhou published its ‘big data’ industry development plan just five years ago, covering the span between 2016 and 2020, while 35 years ago, the megacity of Shenzhen was a little known fishing town consisting just 30,000 residents.

In the intervening years, the smart city credentials of both cities have grown exponentially, their work with technology companies like Huawei setting them apart from their national and international peers, adopting data-driven solutions such as digital twins smart resource management to make city services and operations more efficient and cost effective.

Digitalisation of Suzhou

The ancient city of Suzhou was built in 514 BC and has 2,500 years of history behind its development to this point. Today, the city is increasingly digital-first, evidenced by city leadership signing a strategic cooperation agreement with Huawei in 2017. This stipulated that the company would provide comprehensive solutions and smart applications for key smart city areas – including top-level design, government services, social management, and civic services – aiming to facilitate industry transformation and upgrades. Suzhou and Huawei later signed another strategic cooperation agreement regarding smart city upgrades in other fields, which has seen Suzhou’s city intelligence branch into urban development, social governance, economic development, and ecological protection.

Suzhou’s Zhangjiagang County has since partnered with Huawei to build China’s first county-level smart city in since 2019. Huawei has constructed several key components in alignment with the city development plan, including basic networks, cloud computing centres, digital platforms, operation centres, and smart applications, as well as the systems for standards, operations, security, and operation and maintenance (O&M).

The supporting digital infrastructure enables shared, citywide and centralised intelligent capabilities and services – such as the ‘City Brain’ and next-generation cloud computing centres – improving emergency command, cross-system collaboration, livelihood, as well as government, healthcare, and education services in the city.

Elsewhere, in the city’s rapidly developing and increasingly important industrial park, Huawei has worked with leadership to implement a one-screen solution to aid city authorities in efficiently visualising and managing city operations. Supported by digital twin technology and capabilities, Suzhou Industrial Park has built a next-generation Intelligent Operation Centre (IOC) that enables data analysis, event management, risk warning, security control, event command, and decision-making.

The IOC aggregates more than 150 million pieces of data from 43 service systems and over 13,000 IoT sensors deployed by various government agencies, using them to make the right decisions and develop intelligent applications for the industrial park.

Suzhou’s implementation of digital twin technology doesn’t end here – in January 2021, the Suzhou Municipal Government and Huawei signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement to collaborate on the digital economy and key industries. The two parties will also collaborate on establishing the Industrial Internet Enablement Centre, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation Centre, Intelligent Connected Vehicle Test Centre, Digital Industry Chain Collaboration Centre, Digital Governance & Service Demonstration Centre, and ICT Talent Training Centre.

Shenzhen’s rapid digital rise and recovery

If ever there were a case study to demonstrate the power of technology and its ability to bolster urban economies, then Shenzhen is it.

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, the city’s economy shrunk by more than six per cent (year-on-year) in the first quarter of the year, but had recovered – and in fact grown by 0.1 per cent – by the midway point of the year, before going on to grow by 3.1 per cent in total by year’s end. Shenzhen, as a metropolis with a population of 20 million, is implementing smart city construction and digital government reform to promote the digitalisation of government services, the economy, and everyday life for its citizens, becoming a model for ‘Digital China’ and global cities.

The key to improving urban management efficiency is sharing cross-department, -industry, and -domain data resources, integrating them together to boost productivity, production value, and efficiency.

Since 2010, that’s exactly where Shenzhen’s city leadership has focused its efforts with Huawei. In that decade, gradual improvements and progress have been key to the city earning global recognition, culminating in receiving the Global Enabling Technologies Award at the Smart City Expo World Congress in November 2020.

Autonomous driving and the management of traffic are one such example where this trend could bear fruit. The number of cars in the city – now more than three million – leads to difficulties in locating parked cars in the city’s business districts. To combat this issue, the city proposed implementing automatic driving applications in underground car parks, integrating automatic driving technology with data and algorithms to achieve precise navigation in closed area, and enabling automatic vehicle search and one-click parking.

Maintaining focus on transport, Shenzhen and Huawei have already worked together on more concrete mobility projects within the last two years. In August 2020, Shenzhen Metro lines 6 and 10 opened, utilising Huawei’s Urban Rail Cloud solution. By doing so, the metro was able to break down information and operational siloes, instead gaining the capability to unify planning and construction, and share IT infrastructure to enable smarter applications.

Outside of service-related applications for digital technology, Shenzhen has also worked on making its resource management smarter – the clearest example so far being its water supply. The Shenzhen Water Bureau already uses information-driven processes to better manage water and water construction projects, acquiring data to integrate its systems for better monitoring and management.

What comes next is its work with Huawei, alongside the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, in managing urban rivers and lakes; the three parties will come together to build a multi-dimensional water model system that uses big data and model simulation to keep rivers healthy, reduce pollution, and minimise the impact of flooding.

In both instances for Suzhou and Shenzhen, the cities in their work with Huawei have become digital first across a number of different and varied verticals. Their projects and implementations to date, as well as the real-world impact they’ve had on their respective economies, set a high bar for other cities around the world to aspire to.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Wang Bi

Quelle/Source: Smart Cities World, 15.12.2021

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