Building Happier Smart Cities
In 1831, Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction, which was to lead to the beginning of modern electricity usage. Several decades later, in 1879, Thomas Edison developed a practical, inexpensive light bulb: that, of course, went on to impact almost every area of modern society. Since these breakthroughs, the use of electric power has spread across the globe, benefiting everyone in all walks of life.
Fast forward to today and emerging digital capabilities — 5G, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) — are set to have an impact similar to the one electric power had, now well over a century ago. The applications of digital technologies will begin small, it's true — like powering a simple light bulb — but they will continue to evolve and be integrated into all areas of our work and life, driving the digital transformation of all industry verticals and, ultimately, changing our lives.
Smart City construction has undergone various phases, each driven by different focuses: scenarios, platforms, and data. We are now situated in the digital transformation phase, which is defined by technical enablement fused with model innovation, as well as by the digital technologies that are used to propel the transformation of industrial production and social governance, revolutionizing our ways of life.
Huawei has had its own role to play in this process, helping to transform 700 cities, in more than 40 countries, into Smart Cities. Based on the experience accumulated from these projects and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Huawei has now developed a model for Smart Cities.
The first layer of this model is ICT infrastructure, which is the foundation of the urban digital economy. The second — similarly to Maslow's model — is safety, which helps to guarantee urban development. The third layer is the digitalization of industries, where digital capabilities are deployed in cities to support the transformation and development of enterprises and industries. The final — and highest — layer is one of intelligence, where intelligent city services and unified management can be implemented.
Meanwhile, people lie at the center of any city's success, so Smart Cities must ensure that they — as citizens, as employees of enterprises, and as civil servants — feel happy and secure. This is essential if any Smart City is to grow and truly fulfill its potential.
In Shenzhen — an exemplary Smart City — the local government has capitalized on the data it has available to hand, to deliver services far more efficiently. The city has launched an integrated government service, which supports instant processing and approval of applications — for permits, ID cards, businesses licenses, and so on — made by both citizens and enterprises.
In another example, Shanghai has installed digital systems such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) water meters, smart door sensors, and digital smoke sensors for elderly citizens who live alone. Why is this important? The NB-IoT water meter, for example, is more intelligent than a standard water meter. If the amount of water used in a place of residence doesn't exceed 0.01 cubic meters for more than 12 hours, the neighborhood committee will automatically be notified and a community worker will be promptly sent to check on the resident's wellbeing. Naturally, when intelligence is used in ways such as this, it can have a profound and positive impact on the sense of community in cities.
Meanwhile, Zhangjiagang — a city of about 1.3 million people in East China's Jiangsu province — has employed various methods to ensure the needs of its citizens and enterprises are met. By transforming and reconstructing business processes, Zhangjiagang is improving digital support and productivity, coordinating construction requirements and optimizing the business environment to boost the city's core competitiveness. Zhangjiagang's all-in-one online portal has an early completion rate of 98.7%, an improvement rate of 96.4%, and a satisfaction rate of 99.8%. Clearly, these are impressive figures.
Smart Cities such as these require continuous Operations and Maintenance (O&M), with digital transformation cast as an ongoing process. Huawei is ready to provide support throughout the process by committing to helping governments drive Smart City operations, encouraging city innovation, and helping cities achieve balanced and sustainable development.
Above all, Huawei is dedicated to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. A century ago, we used electricity to light up our lives and empower industries, bringing immeasurable benefits across the world. Today, we need to make use of and integrate diverse digital technologies, in order to bring more and more valuable benefits to citizens, enterprises, and governments, ultimately improving their sense of security, belonging, and — yes — happiness.