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The Appeal of China's First-Tier Cities

By Bai Rendong, Huawei

During the 2018 Spring Festival in China, the peak travel period hit 2.98 billion passengers – a new record for the so-called largest annual human migration in the world. Each passenger has their own footprints and choices. Their diversity reflects the relative status and interrelationships of Chinese cities. 49% of the net passenger outflow comes from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, the four major, or first-tier, ones.

With better public resources and employment opportunities, the first-tier cities have developed economies and a strong appeal to the migrant population. These people arrive with hopes of social integration. The powerful gravity these cities exert is truly apparent during the Spring Festival migration.

Despite complaining about the high housing and commodity prices and pace of life, people still choose to live in first-tier cities. Their reasons vary – more opportunities, faster personal development, higher income, better education – but the fact remains that compared with lower tiers, the four major cities are more open and equitable. Hard work will be rewarded. Effort can change personal and familial destinies.

Open and convenient government services are emblematic of top-tier cities. While all governments strive to optimize their operations, these cities move even faster. Their governments look to the cloud to improve service efficiency for a better citizen experience.

Beijing: Single-Window Service Center

Prior to 2016, Beijing’s e-Government extranet services were scattered over 30 bureaus. Their small data centers meant that data sharing was difficult, resources underutilized, devices numerous, architecture complex and unmanageable, and O&M inefficient. Each of the city’s 30 Internet egress points had more than 100,000 monthly security threats. What’s worse, these egress points had varying levels of security protection. Statistics reported over 80 approval procedures, or 300 working days, for every investment project – a major problem.

Today, Beijing’s e-Government cloud platform is a multi-platform of cross-department data sharing and service collaboration, data sharing and service switching, and government collaboration office administration. In just three months, social security, medical insurance, and video services – government extranet services with social significance – were smoothly migrated to the e-Government cloud platform to go live. Beijing has integrated its approval and administrative services into one service center, and streamlined the data of each department, level, and region. One input and one output make up the new single-window approach: multi-functional window at the front end, and task division and collaboration at the back end. Citizens now enjoy truly one-stop services. In addition, the reconstruction of the approval process for one-stop handling of investment projects has reduced it to just 50 procedures and 109 working days.

Shanghai: Always-Available Services

Shanghai is an early adopter and active promoter in the e-Government field. It was the first to establish three basic databases: legal person, population, and spatial geography. Since 2010, shanghai.gov.cn, the official city website, provides online government services.

In today’s era of mobile Internet, expectations for public services have been increasing. Digital transformation is urgent. The Shanghai government has kept pace with these changes with its e-Government cloud construction solution. By integrating its many information systems, the government streamlines departmental and affiliate information silos for interconnection, communication, and sharing on the cloud.

The e-Government cloud also supports the service systems of all municipal departments. After more than one year of construction and implementation, more than 150 applications have been deployed on the cloud. As of December 2017, Shanghai e-Government cloud, implementing resource sharing and information communication, is now possible in One ID, One Window, One Network mode. Thanks to Huawei’s intra-city active-active data center, the e-Government cloud enjoys zero data loss and automatic failover, so services are always online and citizens are always satisfied.

In some areas of Shanghai, Internet + Government Services has diversified into even more convenient services to people. All service data in the Xuhui district is incorporated into its big data center, and all citizen-facing service departments are concentrated: The original 24 functional departments now belong to the Shanghai Xuhui Administrative Service Center. Streamlining online and offline services, this service center integrates 73 service systems into one terminal, one entrance, and one user interface.

Taking business license registration as an example, enterprises used to have to register separately at the industry and commerce, taxation, and quality supervision departments. Each department’s processing time was 5 to 10 working days. Each process required at least three visits and a month to complete everything. Now with e-Government cloud, a company needs only 4 days to get licensed.

Through online service and process optimization, the Xuhui district has succeeded in moving data, instead of people. One-stop handling through department collaboration means no more multiple bureaucratic visits. Since its establishment on June 15 last year, the Shanghai Xuhui Administrative Service Center has reduced the annual number of separate transactions to 700,000, down from the million of the previous year.

Guangzhou: Building the Ideal City

The largest e-Government cloud in the country, Guangzhou’s cloud platform comprised 3860 virtual servers, 857 physical servers, and 4546 TB of storage in October 2017. Over 240 departments have deployed more than 900 service systems on this platform.

Underpinned by Huawei’s open and trusted unified management platform, Guangzhou Municipal Government’s bureaus, commissions, and offices have cut their usage of servers, storage, and other hardware by 75% and shortened project implementation by more than 70%. The cloud platform has been properly working over the past three years since rollout.

The Guangzhou e-Government cloud supports numerous key government applications. One such success is the municipal information sharing platform. According to Xing Yihai, director of the Guangzhou Municipal Information Center, “The information sharing system has 6.8 billion data records. Government departments exchange more than 17 million data records every day – the highest volume in China.”

The information sharing system hosts more than 30 specialized services, including tax administration. After the city’s information sharing system was deployed, the rate of enterprise tax collection increased from just 69% to over 98%, boosting annual revenue by more than 5 billion yuan. It also sets a solid foundation for big data analysis of the entire city’s economic performance and tax collection operations.

The e-Government cloud platform is also authorized to adopt new approaches, such as video cloud. More than 80,000 video surveillance signals make up Guangzhou’s video cloud system, which detects important surveillance information. For example, river flooding in summer used to cause duckweed infestations that blocked main waterways, polluting rivers and requiring regular inspection teams. Now, automated video surveillance and algorithms calculate the rate of duckweed growth and alert the relevant department if the threshold is reached.

Shenzhen: Foundation of a Smart City

As China’s first special economic zone, Shenzhen leads both Chinese reform and cloud adoption. The Longgang district is excellent proof. Its government has been vigorously implementing public welfare with projects including smart education, smart healthcare, wireless city, and smart community. Integrated into an e-Government cloud are public service portals, such as the online service center, administrative website, Longgang Government Online portal, and web community. The cloud platform provides citizens with convenience in the form of customized information, including social security, medical care, education, transportation, utilities, and gas. In addition, the cloud platform provides enterprises with online market supervision, taxation, and economic and trade services.

This smart e-Government cloud platform was built with Huawei. Huawei’s ICT infrastructure solution built a leading, open, and converged infrastructure platform to solidify information security. Huawei also aggregated its best partner resources from different fields to provide an efficient, integrated platform and a wide range of smart applications for the Longgang district government, helping to make it an example of a developed coastal area that transformed into a smart city.

Longgang’s single-window government services span over 30 departments, reshaping the approval process and improving public satisfaction to over 95%. Government basic, themed, and service databases enable district-wide data summary and sharing. Government big data has already shown its advantage of scale and objective results of its cloud strategy. The unified spatial-temporal information sharing platform is comprehensive and precise. It provides real-time maps of the whole district for smart applications and specialized support for security governance. The multitasking planning system is a collaborative planning mechanism in seven departments, including the development and reform commission, land planning, and municipal management. It integrates nearly 100 data items and greatly improves approval efficiency of investment projects, enabling healthy, scientific city planning.

Till now, Huawei has helped China with more than 260 e-Government cloud projects for better governance, public welfare, and industry development. These projects include 20 at the country level, such as the National Information Center, the General Customs Administration, the State Tax Administration, the China Meteorological Administration, and the Ministry of Education. There are 17 projects at the state level, and more than 230 at the city level.

Huawei believes that a Smart City is like a living organism with a nervous system. This Smart City nervous system comprises the brain, or control center, and peripheral nerves, or network and sensors. These sensors gather real-time information about the status of the city and the network transmits the data, enabling the control center to analyze and make informed decisions, deliver feedback commands, and ultimately act intelligently. This synergy is a seamless link between the physical and digital worlds. The Huawei e-Government Cloud solution is key to the nervous system. It is instrumental in information storage, computing, analytics, and decision-making.

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Issue 03

Intelligent IT World (10/2018)

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