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Blazing a Trail for Intelligent Cities: Building a Digital Foundation and Integrating Apps

By Eric Xu, Rotating Chairman, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

At Huawei, we envision a fully connected, intelligent world. Intelligent Cities — in which all citizens, homes, and organizations are connected — are a key step toward building this intelligent world. To make Intelligent Cities a reality, Huawei takes a two-pronged approach: first creating a digital foundation that delivers ubiquitous connectivity, digital platforms, and pervasive intelligence; then integrating applications from leading industry partners. By doing so, we aim to start a new chapter for Intelligent Cities.

Three Dimensions for Consideration During the Development of New Intelligent Cities

Based on our experience in more than 200 Intelligent City projects around the world, Huawei believes that the following three dimensions should be priorities when beginning a new Intelligent City project.

First Dimension: City Administration

First and foremost, a new Intelligent City needs to focus on the issues arising from urbanization, such as traffic congestion, pollution, risk prevention, and safety. Achieving targeted and efficient urban governance and administration should be the first priority of any Intelligent City.

Intelligent Cities should also prioritize fostering new businesses and industries, and integrating new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into traditional industries. The idea here is to create new momentum for industry development.

Intelligent Cities also need to adopt new technologies that create completely new experiences to improve the lives of all citizens.

Second Dimension: City Transformation

New Intelligent City development requires changes on multiple fronts:

• Siloed, fragmented technologies must give way to platforms and ecosystems;

• Government-led investment must evolve into multi-stakeholder investment such as Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs);

• Distributed Operations & Maintenance (O&M) will be superseded by centralized and intelligent operations

These new models are set to generate endless economic benefits for cities, paving the way for the sustainable evolution of Intelligent Cities.

Third Dimension: Path and Pace of City Development

Every project has both short-term and long-term objectives. Fundamentally, an Intelligent City project should start with short-term priorities: namely, the most pressing needs of its citizens. Huawei recommends a phased or stepped approach that first focuses on dealing with less complicated issues, before moving on to address more difficult challenges. For an Intelligent City to follow this path and pace of development, its technology platform needs to have iterative and scalable AI capabilities.

Three Pillars of New Intelligent Cities

An Intelligent City relies on three pillars: a digital foundation, an open platform, and innovative business models. Meticulous planning must go into all three if we hope to turn Intelligent Cities into a reality.

A Powerful Digital Foundation that Integrates Cloud, AI, and IoT

• Eliminate technology silos and integrate services that were once scattered here and there, so that everything can be connected;

• Facilitate data collection, pool data from all sources, and support data mining, analytics, and sharing to provide inputs for an Intelligent City’s “digital brain”;

• Support a wide array of applications, which provide technological means for city administrators to achieve easy, accurate, and efficient governance and decision-making.

The digital foundation is like a plot of fertile soil in which digital economies can take root. On top of this digital foundation, Huawei brings industry partners and applications together to empower all industries as they digitally transform and seek further growth.

An Open Platform that Combines a Full Set of Capabilities Required by an Intelligent City

In the past, the traditional approach to Intelligent City development was to roll out individual ICT projects that targeted specific fields. A more effective approach is to build an open digital platform that aggregates the capabilities of all ecosystem players. This new approach will turn Intelligent Cities into a new enabler of industry development. An open platform such as this offers a full set of capabilities — including big data, AI, video, Geographic Information System (GIS), and converged communications — to a diverse range of applications. The platform also integrates all types of city status data to inform decision-making.

The benefits created by this open platform are enormous. It supports all sorts of Intelligent City applications across sectors, from agriculture and healthcare to education and transportation. The experience gained by a city as it becomes smart will be useful for fostering new industries and new capabilities.

In addition, the platform can open up its capabilities and data to businesses and organizations, who can use them to drive Intelligent City development and create new value. This multi-stakeholder model will also incubate new businesses and industries, and spur the transformation of traditional industries, ultimately creating new momentum driving the digital economy forward.

Innovative Business Models that Support Sustainable Operations of Intelligent Cities

At present, government-led investment and PPP are major models for Intelligent City development. As an Intelligent City gradually matures — with ubiquitous connectivity, the continuing aggregation of massive amounts of data, and the growing value of device connections and data — its momentum will be sustained by new business models that will emerge to extract greater value from Intelligent City operations, rather than from new investments. As such, new value-added operating solutions will ensure sustainable Intelligent City development. An example is an operating solution that reduces the vacancy rate of urban parking lots. By resolving a persistent problem that citizens face, this type of solution increases the use of urban resources and thus creates huge economic gains for the city.

Facilitating Intelligent City Development for a Better Future

To date, Huawei — working closely with leading partners — has played a meaningful role in more than 200 Intelligent City projects across more than 40 countries, with outstanding results. Highlights include:

• Intelligent City in Rustenburg, South Africa

• Intelligent City for Bonifacio Global City, the Philippines

• Smart and digital Sardegna, Italy

• Top-level design for Intelligent Cities in Guangdong and Shanghai, China

• Big data modeling in Guizhou, China

• Smart traffic control in Longgang District, Shenzhen, China

• Smart rice cultivation in Chengyang District, Qingdao, China

• AI capability center in Binghai District, Tianjin, China

• City-wide IoT network in Yingtan, Jiangxi Province, China

Initiatives that focus on digital economies, industry transformation, and building an intelligent world have captured the global imagination. The wave of digitization is sweeping the world. Huawei aims to speed up the transition to digitization and AI, and blaze a trail for Intelligent Cities, which we believe will offer vast potential to improve governance, benefit residents, and promote industry prosperity.

To this end, Huawei will build a digital foundation featuring ubiquitous connectivity, digital platforms, and pervasive intelligence. We will also establish open ecosystems in which we can work with our partners for shared success. Cooperating with our partners, Huawei delivers innovative Intelligent City technologies to create new momentum for digital economies in an intelligent world.

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