New values, services, and models enabled by digital technologies are allowing many business services to go digital and are leading to industrial restructuring across various fields in China. In turn, this shift is stimulating innovation and, ultimately, the digital transformation of the government, the economy, and so-ciety.
It's a trend that's observable nationwide, with many local governments making grand digital transformation plans. For example, in late-2020, the Shanghai Municipal Government released Opinions on Promoting Digital Transformation of Shanghai. In recent years, Shenzhen, which is a pioneer in the Smart City field, has also devised strategies to accelerate its digital transformation. Meanwhile, Zhejiang — a coastal province in eastern China — is aiming to-ward comprehensive and in-depth digital reform. Clearly, then, the digital trans-formation of cities in China is well underway.
The top-level design of city digital transformation ties transformation across all domains with digital construction in the city. With a wide-ranging scope — in-tegrating many different components — and a potentially transformative ap-proach, it covers 10 essential elements of city digital transformation: strategy, architecture, application, platform, data, technology, organization, mechanism, mode, and industry.
From All-Domain Transformation to a Panoramic Blue-print
City digital transformation is driven by reform needs and strategies across all domains. Top-level design for digital transformation of cities should focus on three aspects: strategy; then architecture and soft environment; and, finally, the implementation path. Once those have been determined, it's essential to draw a panoramic blueprint for city digital transformation.
Strategic planning is the first step in top-level city digital transformation design. The core of strategic planning is to accurately identify the transformation tasks of a city through system survey and strategy interpretation, and implement planning and design separately from non-transformation tasks.
Overall Planning of the Architecture and Soft Environment
Architecture and soft environment planning — that is, defining the structure of city planning as well as elements such as policies — is the essence of the top-level design. The 4A (business architecture, information architecture, applica-tion architecture, and technology architecture) planning provides insights into a city based on the logic chain of strategy, business, data, application, and tech-nology; supports the comprehensiveness of the digital transformation blueprint; and ensures zero packet loss. Soft environment planning helps design a sys-tem — based on the organization, mechanism, mode, operation, and industry — that's required in the digitalization process to support the transformative na-ture of the blueprint and keep pace with digitalization.
The planning of the implementation path is integral to ensuring the objectives of the top-level design are achieved. Neither digital transformation tasks nor transformation projects are purely technical. To ensure that the implementation and operation of a project go smoothly, any design must take into account leader coordination, organizational management, and supervision or appraisal.
Method: From a Panoramic Blueprint to All-Element Plan-ning
Based on the three aspects and 10 elements of city digital transformation, we can develop the eight steps of digital transformation, to shift from a panoramic blueprint to a plan that covers all elements.
Step 1: Requirement and Strategy Analysis
Starting with city strategies, analyze the opportunities and challenges, current situation, and gaps; interpret and design the strategic intent, vision, mission, objective, and tactics; and specify the strategic architecture of digital transfor-mation.
Step 2: Service Planning
Starting with strategic initiatives, analyze the top-level business value of city digital transformation. Interpret each layer — from top to bottom: city func-tions, business functions, and business scenarios — forming a top-level busi-ness architecture for city digital transformation.
Step 3: IT Architecture Planning
Based on the business architecture, sort out data at the corresponding level by topic, subject, and business item; design the data asset directory; specify data distribution; and form the top-level information architecture. Based on the busi-ness architecture and information architecture, analyze and identify application functions and how they are interrelated by application domain, application group, and application service — forming a top-level application architecture. Based on the needs of the business architecture, information architecture, and application architecture, design interactive, connected, and central digital infra-structure to form the top-level digital infrastructure architecture. Design the overall security architecture for services, information, applications, and digital infrastructure, including security rules, security technologies, and security management.
Step 4: Digital Economy Planning
Determine the development positioning and strategy of digital industries based on functional positioning and strategic positioning, and plan implementation projects and policies for key industries. Develop the strategy and path for im-plementing industrial digital transformation from these perspectives: infrastruc-ture, enablement platform, innovation system, and digital transformation of leading enterprises.
Eight steps of all-element planning
Step 5: Data Governance System Planning
Based on the information architecture of city digital transformation, develop data management policies; initiate data quality management and IT planning of the data governance platform; design data management organizations, pro-cesses, and control mechanisms; design the flow and transaction system for data elements; and devise the data governance roadmap.
Step 6: Operation Planning
Based on the need to keep realizing and evolving the business value of city digital transformation, plan the overall digital operation system of the city, in-cluding the design of the digital operation architecture, operation strategy, and content, as well as the planning of the operation management system, opera-tion service system, and digital operation support tools.
Step 7: Support System Planning
To realize the business value of digital transformation, plan and design the support system from three aspects: organizational management, standards and specifications, and business operation. Organizational management in-cludes organizational structure design as well as the design of functions and operation management mechanisms. The focus of standards and specifica-tions is to systematically review all relevant standards and evaluation systems, and develop a local standard system and an evaluation system through direct reference, local adaptation, or addition. Business mode design focuses on is-sues such as what kind of operation and management mechanisms should be constructed as well as the way the business is managed, investment and fi-nancing structure, and key scenario-specific solutions.
Step 8: Project Implementation and Path Planning
According to the concept of all-element planning and design, redefine the pro-ject content, including the construction objectives, what needs to be construct-ed, business value, and objectives to be achieved, budget, and plan; match related organizations, models, and assurance measures; and develop strict mechanisms for supervision, appraisal, and routine coordination — ensuring that the implementation of the transformation project runs smoothly.
Practice: All-Element Planning Drives All-Domain Trans-formation
Huawei has provided Smart City solutions for 700-plus cities in 40-plus coun-tries, and provided top-level design consulting services for 100-plus provinces, cities, and counties. The company's extensive experience in Smart City con-struction ranges from vast metropolises, such as Beijing and Shenzhen, to small-and-medium-sized cities, such as Yiyang, Huangshan, and Zhang-jiagang.
As digital transformation is reformed and the process becomes more in depth, Huawei continues to innovate and provides all-element planning to help gov-ernments and enterprises explore and practice all-domain digital transfor-mation.
In Sichuan and Jilin provinces, for example, Huawei helps the local govern-ments build a provincial digital economy and digital government governance system. Meanwhile, in cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, Huawei part-ners with municipal governments as it explores the digital transformation of cit-ies and governments.
In water conservancy, healthcare, and education, Huawei has worked with customers to carry out industrial digital transformation. In the enterprise mar-ket, Huawei teams up with 253 Fortune 500 companies to jointly pursue indus-trial digitalization, and actively provides digital transformation services for small-and-medium-sized enterprises.
Digital Shenzhen: Building Shenzhen Intelligent Twins
In 2021, the Shenzhen Municipal Government issued Opinions of the Shen-zhen Municipal People's Government on Accelerating Smart City and Digital Government Construction. This document provides the program for Shen-zhen's future digital development. It proposes to build a digital Shenzhen that integrates the digital government, digital economy, and digital citizen services. The plan is to build an Intelligent Twin of the city, with deep-learning capabili-ties, and create a global benchmark of new Smart Cities and a model of Digital China. An Intelligent Twin is both the construction objective and the overall so-lution for Shenzhen's digital transformation. It undertakes five core tasks of digital development and constructs six projects: Digital Network, Digital Infra-structure, Digital Interaction, Digital Brain, Digital Shield, and Digital Application — helping Shenzhen become a leading digital city in the world.
Shenzhen has made substantial progress in this field: 100% of government services are now processed on the online service platform, while more than 95% of personal affairs and more than 70% of legal affairs are handled on the unified government service platform — implementing mobile government. Shenzhen implements China's first government approval that can be complet-ed in seconds, eliminating the need for face-to-face meetings. It has also launched a certificate-free government service. The first iteration of the service covers 90% of the certificates and licenses commonly used by citizens and en-terprises. Most government services can be handled using cellphones, a work-ing example of the concept of a 'smart life' that can be managed from a single screen. On this basis, Shenzhen has launched a new mode of e-Government services that can be reported and processed in seconds. There are now 274 items are available for seamless processing, 300 items for approval in sec-onds, and 58 items for integrated reporting and processing that can be com-pleted in seconds. Being able to get approval within seconds benefits at least 100,000 people every year, saving over CNY100 million (about US$15.67 mil-lion) in service costs, according to some estimates.
Zhongshan City Digitally Upgrades Its Business, Living, and Operations Environment
Zhongshan — a city with a population of more than three million, located in Guangdong province — also has ambitious Smart City aspirations: its 2021 Zhongshan Municipal Government Work Report states that the city will imple-ment its three-year action plan for Smart City construction. With this statement in mind and using the city digital transformation methodology as a basis, Huawei has developed the Smart City Construction (e-Government Transfor-mation) Action Plan for Zhongshan, Guangdong, which represents a bench-mark for Huawei's top-level design for city-level digital transformation. The Plan designs seven transformation systems, including the process-oriented business architecture, object-oriented data architecture, service-based applica-tion architecture, and platform-based technical architecture. It has also de-signed the matching information security system, data management system, and overall digital city governance system.
To improve government services and administration, the Plan designs 19 top-level service processes for city digital transformation. Service handling for citi-zens and enterprises will be as easy as online shopping, and refined city man-agement will become a reality. In the digital economy field, the Plan designs an industrial digital transformation system featuring four foundations, three plat-forms, and four applications. This system will guide and promote the quick op-timization, allocation, and regeneration of industry element resources, help en-terprises improve quality and efficiency through digital transformation, and drive industry upgrade.
Zhongshan City has completed the municipal institution reform and the system reform at town and street levels. All the seven types of government service items are handled through a unified network; 96.96% of administrative approv-al items can be processed online; 3362 government service items now only require one visit at most; and 59.85% of them are handled online throughout the entire process. Online approval of second-hand housing transactions re-quires only one visit to the service hall and is completed within minutes. Meanwhile, offline services are handled through a single window, and they can be dealt with on the same day.
Zhongshan has implemented a business registration approval process that can all be done online and contact-free, shortening the overall processing time to one business day on average. The promised approval duration for social and government investment projects is reduced from 60 or 90 days to 39 days. 100% of the major single window applications for international trade are cov-ered, reducing import and export clearance time by 87% and 89% respectively.
There are now 31 smart manufacturing pilot projects (some are national-level projects, while others are provincial) in Zhongshan. The quality and efficiency of the industry are continuously improving, and the added value of advanced manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing accounts for an increasingly larger proportion of the total industrial added value.
The planning framework of the Zhongshan Smart City (e-Government transformation) blue-print