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Top-Level Design: Drawing a Blueprint for Intelligent Cities

By Yuan Wanhai, Nie Junyu, and Yang Lizhi, Smart City Experts, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei China

Intelligent Cities are the main focus of digital transformation in urban areas. It is a new concept and model that promotes Intelligent City planning, construction, management, and services by using new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) such as Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, big data, mobile internet, and spatial and geographic information. This is an innovative application of next-generation information technology in city transformation, and represents the end-goal for future development trends of cities. China has proposed to leverage Intelligent City construction and drive the transformation of its urban development, as evidenced by its 13th Five-Year Plan (which covers 2016 to 2020), the informatization development strategy, and the Central City Work Conference. With a more comprehensive understanding of Intelligent Cities, an increasing number of cities nationwide are prioritizing ‘Intelligent City’ as their current and future development strategy.

The Intelligent City top-level design serves as a blueprint between planning and implementation — featuring overall clarity and operability — that can be easily followed, preventing disordered construction. It is applicable to the informatization construction of cities, departments, districts (counties), campuses, as well as rural areas. The top-level design adopts the openness principle and is based on the most widely used and recognized enterprise architecture in the global market — The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF). In accordance with fair and accurate evaluations of customer requirements alongside the status quo, the design covers Intelligent City service, data, application, and infrastructure architectures, as well as including the implementation path and assurance system of architecture implementation.

The General Approach

The Intelligent City top-level design is a comprehensive analysis method used to analyze and design the implementation path of an Intelligent City. It is divided into three stages: diagnosis reports, core architecture, and implementation schemes.

• Diagnosis Report

Comprehensively analyzes factors such as city development requirements, informatization status, informatization policy requirements, external resources, and benchmark cities, then determines the boundaries and foundation of Intelligent City construction. The main focus is to comprehensively analyze the informatization requirements of a city and upper-level policies, as well as the informatization status and objectives, then determine the key objectives of Intelligent City construction and the ideal framework design. Moreover, this solution also comprehensively analyzes resources provided by benchmark cities and both upper-level and lower-level organizations, and identifies existing and available resources for Intelligent City construction, preventing avoidable reconstruction and resource waste.

• Core Architecture

Designs the service, data, application, and infrastructure architectures of Intelligent City construction, while specifying the internal structure of resources, systems, platforms, and infrastructure involved in Intelligent City construction, and the relationships between the structures. As a business and practical work oriented solution — consisting of business types, business items, and the service process of business architecture — data architecture and application architecture are determined based on work requirements obtained from analyzing the relationship between services and resources as well as between services and systems. Data architecture includes the resource content, shared relationship, and database, while application architecture includes the system, module, and system function. Finally, general functions are extracted from the application architecture and the infrastructure architecture is determined in line with the principle of advanced deployment configuration.

• Implementation Scheme

The ideal architecture can be transformed into a future operable project by clarifying key projects, management mechanisms, operation modes, and informatization standards, ensuring the smooth implementation and subsequent maintenance of various Intelligent City architectures. The Intelligent City construction project, project management mechanism, operation mode, informatization standards, and human, financial, and material resources are determined by comparing the architecture with the current situation according to the requirements of the core architecture and existing resources.

The Three Stages and Eight Steps

The Intelligent City top-level design can be divided into three stages and eight steps.

• The Early Analysis Stage

• Step 1: Analyze the internal and external environment. Analyze the internal and external factors that may affect Intelligent City construction, including policy environment and technical environment analyses, as well as city positioning and problem analyses. Policy environment analysis refers to analyzing the requirements of national Intelligent City policy documents, as well as analyzing the informatization policy environment in terms of development opportunities and informatization development requirements. Technical environment analysis refers to analyzing the development trend and application basis of new ICT technologies — such as IoT, cloud computing, big data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) — and identifying opportunities new technologies can create for Intelligent Cities. City positioning and problem analyses both summarize a city’s characteristics and development objectives, examine the challenges facing city development, and determine the inherent demands and requirements of city development for informatization.

• Step 2: Informatization survey. The service status, informatization status, and informatization requirements are studied by surveying city managers, general workers, informatization personnel, and the public, through document analyses, questionnaires, and onsite surveys. The business survey is conducted to understand and analyze business entities, business informatization support, service usage, resource generation, and service collaboration. The informatization status survey analyzes the informatization development status with respect to network infrastructure, common support platforms, core information systems, database construction, information resource development and sharing, and the informatization development environment. It also diagnoses any weaknesses and existing problems in the current infrastructure. The informatization requirement survey analyzes the basic informatization requirements of each type of service object.

• Architecture Design Stage

• Step 3: Service architecture design. Clarify business functions — including key businesses and business categories — and describe the service architecture from a general to detailed level with respect to service type, service items, and service process. This service architecture meets the requirements of decision makers; emergency commands; the public; and government service management, and specifies the coordination relationship between services. Then draw the service architecture diagram, including the service category and service items.

• Step 4: Data architecture design. Analyze the resource input and output that supports each business item and arrange them according to the business line, to form the overall resource requirements and sharing information. Draw the resource architecture diagram — including the internal service database, theme database, and relationship between the databases — and then determine the data content, source, existing foundation, and construction mode of the database.

• Step 5: Application architecture design. Analyze the informatization system and informatization requirements that support each business item, arrange them according to the business line, and combine similar requirements to form the overall informatization requirements. Then draw the system architecture diagram — including the new systems, upgraded and reconstructed systems, existing systems, and the relationship between systems — and describe the system objectives, main functions, existing infrastructure, and construction mode.

• Step 6: Infrastructure architecture design. Determine the requirements for sharing public intelligent application support platforms, and describe the application support platforms to be built, the construction objectives, service content, managers, builders, service modes, and the service scope. Then determine the requirements for sharing infrastructure, such as networks, equipment rooms, and information security; describe the infrastructure to be built, including data centers, networks, and terminal devices; and outline the construction objectives, managers, and builders.

• Implementation Scheme Design Stage

• Step 7: Formulate the implementation plan. Analyze the gap between the current architecture and the target architecture, and provide suggestions on system upgrades, discarding, or integration. Then, design key projects, including construction objectives, construction content, business issues to be resolved, as well as budgets and plans. Finally, prioritize the project construction on the basis of importance and urgency, divide up the construction phase based on the project construction priority, and allocate related resources.

• Step 8: Develop the solution. Analyze the investment, construction, and operation modes of key projects, determine the boundaries of cooperation between the government and enterprises, and design innovative and feasible system investment, construction, and operation modes. Subsequently design the supporting policy and standard system, including the standard requirements for services, data, application systems, and basic networks. Finally, propose resource assurance measures in terms of talent and capital to ensure a smooth Intelligent City construction.

Case Studies of the 100+ Intelligent Cities

Huawei provides consulting services related to the top-level design for over 100 provinces, cities, districts, and counties across China, including Jilin, Guizhou, Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Kunming, Xiamen, and Hohhot. In doing so, Huawei has accumulated substantial experience in Intelligent City top-level design of varying scales, types, and requirements.

• Digital Jilin: One of the First Provinces in China to Carry Out Integrated Planning of the Digital Economy and Digital Government

Huawei has developed the ‘121’ digital Jilin framework for the province through system surveys and analyses, combined with the requirements specific to Jilin:

• ‘1’: Using the digital government construction as a foundation, government function transformation was accelerated, public service levels optimized, and social governance capabilities improved with the use of digital platforms and means.

• ‘2’: The intelligent upgrade of the automobile industry, agricultural digitalization, smart logistics, digital culture and tourism industry, as well as the integration of digital technology with the medical and health industry was determined by treating industry digitization and digital industrialization as the key development direction, combined with the industry foundation and characteristics of Jilin Province. In accordance with the development idea of ‘going out’ and ‘taking in,’ it is now necessary to further expand the original advantageous industries such as satellite and aerospace information, electronic information, and electronic commerce, allowing industry enterprises to go beyond Jilin — expanding on a national or even global scale. Meanwhile, it is also necessary to focus on developing new industries such as cloud computing, big data, and the IoT.

• ‘1’: Intelligent City construction is the main way to address social issues, such as public security, disaster prevention and mitigation, environmental protection, and safe production.

• Huangpu, Shanghai: One of the First to Implement the Top-Level Design of the System Planning Business Platform in China

Huawei has established the overall framework of Smart Whampoa for Huangpu in Shanghai — including two networks, one cloud, one center, five platforms, and N key projects — through systematic research, analysis, and benchmarking with leading practices in and outside China:

• The Infrastructure Layer: The optical and wireless networks of the city were optimized; construction of the eGovernment cloud center was developed; ‘cloud-network synergy and cloud data linkage’ were implemented; and the load capacity of the information infrastructure was constantly improved.

• The Resource Layer: A regional big data center was built by collecting government inventory data, IoT-generated data, and social open data, then implementing data exchange, sharing, analysis, and use.

• The Platform Layer: Strengthened system integration and data collection, and built five management platforms: government service collaboration, urban operations, public security, macroeconomic data sharing, and market supervision.

• The Application Layer: Grasped the two key points of high-quality development and high-quality living, while constructing 11 key projects including Smart Bund, Smart Community, and Smart Elderly Care, bringing smart applications to new heights.

• Tianjin TEDA: One of the First to Propose Top-Level Designs of AI+ Intelligent Cities in China

After systematic research and analysis, Huawei determined the overall framework of ‘1 + 4 + N’ for Tianjin Binhai District, using AI technology and the ‘Happy TEDA (Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area) indicator system’ in order to build a world-leading Intelligent City:

• ‘1’: The Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) collected data from governments, enterprises, citizens, the Internet, and IoT to implement an in-depth value analysis from the following three aspects: the prompt detection of city fluctuation and supply of real-time monitoring dashboards for managers; the supply of comprehensive decision-making assistance and service process optimization services for decision-makers; and the implementation of scientific prediction, prior warning, and emergency linkage management for major emergencies in cities.

• ‘4’: The four AI enablement platforms include the AI platform for accessing public opinion, allowing managers to fully understand peoples’ perspectives and needs; the AI platform for the realization of the city, establishing a harmonious social order by comprehensively exploring the internal relationships among people, places, events, and things; the AI platform for public care, allowing the public to enjoy personalized services throughout their lives with accurately matched service resources; and the AI platform for serving enterprises, accurately pushing services to enterprises by determining the internal relationships of the industry.

• ‘N’: The AI+ innovative applications of Happy TEDA focus on building a safe, beautiful, convenient, harmonious, civilized, and dynamic AI+ innovative application group.

Four AI enablement platforms in Tianjin TEDA

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