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    5G and an Urban Rail Cloud: Shenzhen Metro Breaks the Mold

On August 18, 2020, Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10 were officially opened — the first lines to comprehensively apply Huawei's Urban Rail Cloud Solution in China. They are also the first in Shenzhen to benefit from full 5G coverage. Indeed, taking in the bigger picture, they set a record for the rail transportation industry as a whole: the first lines to use cloud computing and big data technologies to handle diverse metro service systems.

Relieving Congestion

Line 10 alleviates long suffered heavy road congestion, particularly during peak hours in key areas of the city, such as Meilinguan. Indeed, from the very earliest planning stages, Line 10 was designed to connect the north and south of the city, sharing the pressure of existing metro lines and balancing passenger traffic with the urban road network. However, further optimization and innovation were required, particularly in terms of security and efficiency, to ensure that these goals could be fulfilled. So Shenzhen Metro turned to Huawei's industry-leading Urban Rail Cloud Solution, where cloud computing, big data, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are combined to build a unified, open, and intelligent Horizon Digital Platform for Urban Rail. (Horizon is Huawei's large-scale data convergence digital platform.) These technologies not only provide comprehensive support for rail operations and management, but also bring a brand new experience to the traveling public.

But what precisely is the urban rail cloud? And how exactly is Huawei's Urban Rail Cloud Solution being applied to Metro Lines 6 and 10 in Shenzhen?

Urban Rail Cloud

With urban rail transit in China continuing to expand and grow at pace, the opening of any new line increases operational and management difficulties across the entire metro network. In particular, it poses challenges to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

Here, in a network-based environment, service processes and operating rules must be unified in order to standardize service management, in turn improving efficiency and reducing operating costs. Furthermore, deployment of service applications must also be unified, with centralized data management. In short, for urban rail networks, it has become necessary to use emerging technologies to implement cloud-based and digital transformation.

The urban rail cloud, then, serves as the basis for smart metro construction, breaking data silos and optimizing legacy system architecture, all to provide smart metro services.

Huawei's Urban Rail Cloud Solution and Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10

With Huawei's Urban Rail Cloud Solution in use across Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10 — the first time that metro lines in China have deployed cloud computing and big data technologies to handle all service systems, remember — traditional, silo-based vertical architecture has been cast aside. In its place, unified planning of ICT infrastructure resources, simultaneous construction, on-demand allocation and use, and effective information sharing have all been implemented. Quite simply, the urban rail cloud lays a digital foundation for the introduction of smart applications and promises to greatly simplify any future digital upgrades, when the need arises.

Indeed, an integrated and unified service platform using cloud computing technology can bear the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, backup Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) system, the Passenger Information System (PIS), and security systems along with intelligent stabling yard and Office Automation (OA) systems. This platform greatly reduces repeated investment, implements high integration and fast deployment of service systems, and simplifies Operations and Maintenance (O&M) to improve efficiency.

In the real world, the Urban Rail Cloud Solution increases platform security by 80% and improves Information Technology (IT) resource utilization by more than 50%. The platform provisions resources in a coordinated and unified manner to improve operations and management efficiency. For service deployment, it adopts typical stations as templates and uses replication technology to deploy real-time server services for 20 stations within a mere 30 minutes.

Furthermore, a modular equipment room halves the equipment room footprint, saving CNY2 million in electricity costs each year. Plus, 10% can be cut from the cabinet space required, with the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of the data center improved to 1.5.

In summary, Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10 have built a cloud architecture that points the way ahead for future rail transportation systems, achieving highly reliable transportation, efficient operations, and centralized O&M.

A First Batch of Metros Are Already Applying Cloud Computing in China

With the support of cloud computing and big data technologies, Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10 optimize service application systems to integrate various information resources. In addition, enhanced integration between subsystems and collaboration between service departments implement information-based management and centralized control throughout the operations process, effectively eliminating information and automation silos.

Based on the urban rail cloud platform and the capabilities of HUAWEI CLOUD FusionInsight — Huawei's enterprise-grade distributed big data platform — Shenzhen Metro has constructed a big data analytics platform to support line-level data analytics, involving device health, energy consumption management, passenger flow statistics, line center-level monitoring, emergency decision-making, and image-based fire analysis. Huawei also cooperated with ecosystem partners to help provide basic platform support for intelligent applications such as intelligent linkage and big data analytics.

The urban rail cloud uses a big data platform to integrate heterogeneous data resources and mobilize data assets. System operators enjoy comprehensive visualization on one map, where one click provides global awareness, with operations that are linked and integrated.

An Unprecedented 5G Travel Experience

As the first metro lines in the city with full 5G coverage, passengers traveling anywhere on Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10 have full access to the 5G network.

Traveling on other lines in the city, passengers use 4G networks: faced with heavy traffic, network capacity often proves insufficient, deteriorating user experience. In contrast, a 5G network offers far higher bandwidth and network capacity, supporting smooth and full access to the Internet.

Through the concerted efforts of Shenzhen Metro, Huawei, and three major Chinese carriers, it took only ten weeks to complete the installation and commissioning of devices at stations, halls, and tunnel sites, achieving full 5G coverage for both lines.

Facing the Future

As well as providing passengers with a unique level of Internet access, the 5G networks of Lines 6 and 10 are also a boon for metro construction, production, operations, and management.

During construction, a 5G network can implement wireless bandwidth to support visualized management. In metro operations, the Huawei AirFlash 5G Train-to-Ground Data Transfer Solution provides — once again — high bandwidth and low latency, which is used to automatically upload onboard Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) videos and monitoring data to the urban rail cloud platform, for device management and rapid status analysis. In these scenarios, big data analytics and AI transform management from reactive to proactive and preventive.

In short, 5G technology is revolutionizing the metro network. It works with an urban rail cloud solution to help reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance operations security and reliability, eliminating potential risks. In the near future, 5G technologies will be increasingly integrated into metro systems to make travel more convenient, secure, and comfortable.

The innovative breakthrough of Shenzhen Metro Lines 6 and 10 bridges multiple gaps in rail transportation construction. Cloud computing, big data, 5G, and AI have all been used to promote interaction and integration between rail transportation and city functions. The two lines bring a better travel experience, inspire more city creativity, and empower technology-based smart metros.

It's abundantly clear to see: China's urban rail industry has successfully implemented cloud computing, delivering an innovative set of urban rail cloud applications. Cloud-based urban rail services have gradually evolved from a single domain to multiple. Customers have also increasingly realized the value of these applications. Urban rail clouds are now being deployed and promoted in cities with existing large-scale multi-line networks, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Wuhan, as well as those only starting to construct metro lines, such as Hohhot and Taiyuan.

Using an urban rail cloud platform, Huawei's Smart Urban Rail Solution streamlines the production, management, and service subsystems of urban rail, fully integrating service data with cloud computing and big data technologies. And to date, over 170 urban rail lines in more than 70 cities around the world have implemented the solution with significant success. Indeed, taking a wider view, Huawei is also an active participant in the formulation of urban rail informatization standards in China, leading multiple standards teams, and is ready and eager to promote urban rail cloud technologies around the world.