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    Weifang: The Birthplace of the Kite Gets a New Moniker

Spanning 16,000 square kilometers, Weifang is Shandong Province’s second largest city in size. It has a population of over 9 million residents and, in 2016, ranked 32nd in economic output among prefecture-level cities in China. In 2014, Weifang established a smart city department to promote smart city construction, with the aim of improving urban management, benefiting residents’ livelihoods, executing the strategy of informatization, and building a new type of future-ready smart city.

The City V Pass Moves to the Smartphone

With the rise of the mobile Internet, people’s lives are becoming more and more inseparable from mobile Apps. Without losing time, Weifang capitalized on this trend by releasing the Weifang V App. The App acts as a service platform for the smart city — integrating public resources from education, healthcare, transportation, tourism, and administrative approval — in one place. It provides Weifang residents with smart city services at their fingertips.

Taking advantage of the growing popularity of mobile payments from the likes of WeChat and Alipay in China, Weifang took things to the next level and developed an Internet financial services platform called Cloud Pay. The wide-ranging, sophisticated, and widely-available mobile payment service is accessible through the Weifang V App and can be used by city dwellers to pay for local healthcare, educational, public utilities, government services, and other non-tax revenue services. And as an innovative application inclusive to finance, partner banks are now also providing ‘quick loans’ for residents and supply chain financial services for local eCommerce retailers through Cloud Pay.

In August 2017, the Shandong Provincial Public Security Department officially completed acceptance of the Zhiji platform in Weifang. Using their mobile phones to access the platform, which is based on the public security household registration information system, users complete a comprehensive verification process to receive an electronic ID in the form of a dynamic QR code. With the e-ID, residents no longer have to carry a physical ID card when they go out. This is a major innovation in online ID verification and a first for China. The Ministry of Public Security has already approved and initiated the project.

Using the Zhiji platform, Cloud Pay has been upgraded into the V Pass, a first-of-its-kind ‘smart city pass’ for Weifang. The pass combines the user’s ID, driver’s license, health insurance card, bank cards, bus pass, bicycle card, access control cards, library cards, travel card, and even other types of ID cards into a mobile App. Using just one App, residents can handle day-to-day affairs, travel around the city, and complete mobile payments for various public services, making life much more convenient.

Weifang is the third city in China, after Shenzhen and Hangzhou, to enable mobile payments for medical cards, and is the first to implement e-ID cards. As a result of this, Weifang city started a campaign known as the “Three Nos Alliance” to advocate a “No cards, No ID, No cash smart city lifestyle.” The V Pass currently has 600,000 active users, and this number is predicted to exceed one million by the end of the year. The V Pass represents a next-generation city pass. With its broad range of usage scenarios, full digitization, and convenient portability, the V Pass will be ideally suited to replace physical city passes currently being used and has huge potential to gain in popularity.

The IoT Enables Smart City 3.0

Weifang’s V App represents the starting point of smart city construction in Weifang. It bypasses the PC-based Internet and capitalizes on the mobile Internet wave. In the PC-based Internet era, multiple website applications were the defining feature of the smart city — much less convenient than a mobile App. If we define the smart city in the PC-based Internet era as smart city 1.0 and the mobile-based Internet era as smart city 2.0, then Weifang can proudly claim to have taken the first step towards smart city 3.0.

In October 2016, in the pioneering spirit of past philosopher Mozi, Weifang became the first city to build an urban smart lighting control system leveraging Huawei’s NB-IoT technology. This occurred only four months after the 3rd Generation Partnership Project or 3GPP had recognized the Huawei-led NB-IoT standard as a next-generation IoT technical standard in June 2016.

In November 2016, Weifang’s municipal government and Huawei signed the Weifang City IoT Application and Industrial Base Construction Strategic Cooperation Agreement, which led to the inauguration of the Huawei-Weifang IoT Application Innovation Research and Development (R&D) Center (followed by a ceremony) and the Huawei-Weifang IoT Industrial Alliance. With the alliance’s support, Huawei will build an IoT industrial park and work with Weifang to create the country’s first NB-IoT model city.

As of October 2017, Huawei had completed construction of an NB-IoT network covering the whole city. The construction strategy was “one network, one platform, n applications.” Some 1,574 NB-IoT base stations have been built across the city, providing over 94 percent of network coverage.

At the same time, Huawei also started to deploy a city-level IoT public service platform, the first of its kind. A total of 12 IoT city applications will be launched on the platform, including smart parking, smart eGovernment, the Internet of Vehicles, smart building, and smart lighting. Smart city 3.0 has already started to take shape.

Positioned as being “based in Weifang, and serving the province,” the Weifang municipal-level IoT public service platform integrates industrial IoT applications, solving the issue of fragmentation that has emerged with city IoT applications, and collects fresh, high-value Big Data on a city-wide level. And, with the support of the platform, development costs for various applications are reduced.

The platform allows for the unified management of IoT data through two key methods: integrated device connection and IoT data integration. This enables the IoT application system to provide cross-department and cross-application data sharing, and unified data rendering for decision support on the integrated management platform.

Once construction of the Huawei-Weifang IoT Innovation R&D Center is completed, it will contain an IoT OpenLab that will carry out verification and testing of products and solutions for the ‘IoT Weifang’ construction project. Additionally, an IoT exhibition hall will showcase innovative applications built by Huawei and partners. At the R&D center, we will broaden cooperation with universities and research institutes, both Chinese and foreign. The center will also help local businesses enhance their IoT capabilities and business development. It will compete for national and provincial-level research projects and push the IoT Weifang standards to become national standards.

Construction on the Weifang IoT Industrial Park is also set to begin. With the support of Huawei’s ‘intangible assets,’ such as its brand image and outstanding, efficient cloud services, in combination with the IoT Weifang construction project, we will foster an innovative and entrepreneurial environment, and attract both manufacturing and research businesses to the park, creating a highly influential IoT industrial park.

The Huawei-Weifang Smart City IoT Industry Alliance has brought together 52 domestic and foreign IoT partners from domains including city transport, city lighting, city management and services, environmental and ecological protection, refined agriculture, industrial manufacturing, and warehousing and logistics.

Weifang’s Changle County has been designated as the pilot county for IoT Weifang. Here, 39 departments and 17 enterprises and institutions are cooperating on research of NB-IoT smart city applications based upon the IoT Weifang public services platform. The work is being done in accordance with the development strategy for the whole city. They are also implementing 18 IoT applications, including smart government, smart parking, smart street lighting, and smart pipelines.

The PC-based Internet provided information symmetry. The mobile-based Internet provided efficient connectivity. The IoT will deliver a fully connected world. This is what will make the smart city ‘smart.’ The IoT city is smart city 3.0. Specifically, the thinking behind it is by reconstructing the smart city using IoT — leveraging a ‘Connected Internet of Everything’ consisting of all the people-to-people, people-to-things, and thing-to-thing connections that make up the city — it will be possible to create a ‘nervous system’ network for the city and control its management center ‘brain,’ making it truly smart.

Notably, during the IoT Weifang project’s start-up process, TelChina joined and became a close partner in the project through a strategic partnership with Huawei. With exceptional insight, Shandong Provincial Department of Water Resources collaborated in the construction of a province-wide smart river chief management system using the Weifang IoT platform. The IoT has redefined the meaning of the smart city. It has added a new dimension to the smart city and, at the same time, expanded our horizons and tested the boundaries of our imaginations of what it can be.

(Source: Huawei Technologies)