Smart cities embody the integration of sustainable city development and the next round of IT transformation. With the rapid development of technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of things (IoT), big data, and artificial intelligence (AI), smart cities are now sweeping across the world.
In many successful smart city projects, the most difficult part has been the service implementation. Evaluating the last mile of the smart city solution implementation raises the question, should smart city services play a critical role?
Four Challenges Facing Smart City Implementation
The smart city is not a new concept. In fact, the digital city appeared in the information era and the wireless city emerged in the Internet era, but the smart city had not been clearly defined until the digital era.
Unlike traditional informatization, a smart city is not simply the combination of informatization in all industries. Not only is a smart city a top-leadership project, it reshapes the digital capabilities of all industries in a city, while also addressing systematic challenges. The points below highlight development challenges of smart cities:
First, decision makers are in higher positions, and they are responsible for designating the "top-leadership projects". A smart city is a huge undertaking requiring top-level design. The top-down planning covers the specific vision of a smart city, project execution, assessment criteria, subsystem collaboration, interconnectivity, and inter-department information processing. Therefore, a good top-level design is a prerequisite for a successful smart city.
Second, a city is complex. It covers almost all major sectors and subsystems, such as transportation, education, environmental protection, communications, tourism, industry, and commerce. To integrate and connect these subsystems, we start by integrating data. We need to focus on platform construction either in industry construction or unified city planning.
The third challenge is capital. Each city has different financial status. Government funds alone cannot support the entire smart city construction process. Diverse sources of capital will become an important feature of smart city construction.
The last challenge is about service. A smart city project involves complex scenarios, such as cloud data centers and big data systems, as well as a full complement of ICT products from multiple vendors. The traditional delivery service mode in which vendors separately deploy their own products cannot meet smart city service rollout requirements.
In other words, smart cities have more complex scenarios and stricter requirements. A more comprehensive, proactive, and integrated service solution is needed to ensure smooth project implementation. The solution should involve a customer business enablement solution, an overall service solution, cross-product planning and design, project operations experience, and experts with strong product integration and project management capabilities.
Five Keys to Smart City Services
In smart city construction, various "brains" have been proposed but none of them have been able to solve the issues existing along the path from the "brain" to the "nerve endings". In fact, the network architecture of a smart city is like a nervous system, and it requires additional services, similar to synapses.
Huawei believes that a smart city is like an organism. The vitality of this organism comes from its "nervous system". Behind this nervous system is Huawei's digital brain, an intelligent city operations management platform that fully integrates technologies and processes. The platform uses cloud, IoT, and other innovative technologies to implement closed-loop management, from front-end sensing to data transmission, decision-making, and action. In this way, a city functions properly.
Huawei has acquired a profound understanding of smart cities. Based on this knowledge, Huawei now has five keys to smart city services, and these five keys help address the preceding four challenges.
First, the overall city planning must meet the business requirements of multiple industries. Based on the industry feature analysis, Huawei will centrally plan the overall architecture, resource pools, and service catalogs so that the ICT systems can better support the businesses. Then each system is optimized to meet specific requirements of those industries.
Second, cloud services must be managed in a unified manner for enhanced quality. In the case of complex network architectures and scattered resource pools, Huawei can centrally manage resources and services and provide high-value services, such as disaster recovery and data sharing. This should encourage government departments to migrate their services to the cloud.
Third, standard operations are required to smoothly move services to the cloud. The live networks of different departments may have varying specifications. Therefore, unified standards are required to reduce the difficulty in cloud migration. As services are migrated to the cloud, Huawei investigates the capacity requirements in advance and takes these requirements into consideration when designing solutions, so as to support elastic scalability and resolve potential capacity issues.
Fourth, proactive O&M is required to ensure high stability, efficiency, and security. Huawei establishes a clear O&M mechanism and specifies the O&M responsibilities of multiple parties. It also uses the tool platform to monitor O&M networks and builds O&M rule models, with the aim of detecting system health risks.
Fifth, application integration is the focus of ecosystem construction. The partners' applications are integrated into Huawei's platform, making the cities smarter.
Smart City Implementation Requires Both Industry Experience and Scenario Capabilities
In fact, the biggest challenge of smart city services lies in the lack of cross-industry service experience. Huawei has accumulated its own service experience, gained from years of practice. For instance, projects of e-Government cloud, education, policing cloud, smart healthcare, smart transportation, and Safe City have offered Huawei clear service methodologies and capabilities.
Huawei's digital brain integrates scenario-specific solutions, including collaborative command, smart education, and smart social welfare systems. For example, the collaborative command module displays the daily operating status and warnings, and also supports collaborative command and big data-based decision-making in emergencies. With the integration verification center, and tools for planning, design, and integrated implementation, Huawei is able to deploy applications in more scenarios.
Huawei's smart city experience derives from real word implementation, such as Ekurhuleni in South Africa, Rivas in Spain, as well as Gaoqing, Tianjin, Yiyang, Sanya, and Dunhuang in China. The success of smart cities depends on the replication, reconstruction, and optimization of service experiences. Huawei has supported the implementation of smart city services with its global experiences. Most of these experiences are unique to Huawei.
In addition, Huawei has the strongest service system in the industry, involving professional knowledge bases, professional service tools, and a rich talent pool. Huawei also has a robust partner ecosystem. So far, together with partners, Huawei has deployed its smart city solution services in more than 120 cities across over 40 countries. To sum up, Huawei Enterprise Service has successfully supported smart city implementation by leveraging its powerful service system, rich industry implementation experience, and five keys.