How Suzhou Built a Smart City Cluster
Suzhou's splendor dates back to ancient times. When Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty went to Suzhou for a tour 300 years ago, Fan Yao, a descendant of the famous writer Fan Zhongyan, asked a local painter to paint the emperor a 17-meter-wide painting depicting the city's scenery, including every aspect from its outskirts to the Tianping Mountain in the west, and capturing its prosperity. If the picture were repainted today, as well as the well-preserved ancient architectures, you would also see the 'digital gardens' that have been built there in recent years.
In 2016, Suzhou published a big data industry development plan — covering 2016 through 2020 — to cultivate and develop its digital economy. To fulfill the plan's objectives, Suzhou and Huawei signed a strategic cooperation agreement in 2017, stipulating that Huawei would provide comprehensive solutions and smart applications for key Smart City areas — including top-level design, government services, social management, and civic services — aiming to facilitate industry transformation and upgrade. Suzhou and Huawei later signed another strategic cooperation agreement regarding Smart City upgrades in other fields.
Suzhou's city intelligence has reached new heights in recent years, integrating into fields such as urban development, social governance, economic development, and ecological protection. Powered by data and intelligent technologies, Suzhou is building a new Smart City cluster that features a one-screen overview, one-network access, and one-network management.
Suzhou's Zhangjiagang County has done substantial exploration in informatization and digital governance. During the early phase, a modern city development roadmap was drawn and has been applied in several domains, including e-Government, informatization, and even the Smart City of today.
Zhangjiagang has partnered with Huawei build the first county-level Smart City in China since 2019. Based on the development plan, it constructed several key components — including basic networks, cloud computing centers, digital platforms, operation centers, smart applications, as well as the systems for standards, operations, security, and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) — to ensure the development of the national-leading Smart City.
What's more, a sound digital infrastructure enables shared, citywide, and centralized intelligent capabilities and services — such as the City Brain and next-generation cloud computing centers — improving emergency command, cross-system collaboration, livelihood, as well as government, healthcare, and education services in the city.
Zhangjiagang has developed a set of integrated service platforms, such as the City Brain designed for city managers; the Zhangjiagang Today app, offering civic services; and the business service system established for enterprises. These platforms significantly improve user experience, provide more access to electronic services, as well as ensure the quality of Smart City development.
Throughout its history, Suzhou has been a picturesque city with splendid scenery. Today, in the information era, the city has been fully and digitally transformed and features innovation, openness, technologies, and smart applications. In particular, Suzhou Industrial Park, which has been developing rapidly in recent years, has become an important part of the Smart City.
As well as promoting urban development and enterprise services, Huawei also helped the Suzhou Industrial Park establish eight platforms for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), converged communications, video, and others, as well as build a next-generation Intelligent Operation Center (IOC) that enables data analysis, event management, risk warning, security control, event command, and decision-making.
The IOC aggregates more than 150 million pieces of data from 43 service systems and over 13,000 IoT sensors deployed by various government agencies, using them to make the right decisions and develop intelligent applications in the campus.
Framework of Smart City in Zhangjiagang
The IOC automatically divides over 20 non-emergency events into several categories, and provides a centralized portal to the specific management process, facilitating flexible and intelligent city management. Anytime and anywhere, the cameras, enabled by AI and big data technologies, can accurately identify harmful pollutants such as blue-green algae, report it to the IOC in real time, and generate a ticket.
Powered by digital twin technology, Suzhou Industrial Park has become a brand-new, vibrant Smart City showcase that enables digital, modern, and sophisticated social governance.
Suzhou's Old Town is a particularly memorable place. As the only national historical and cultural city protected area, the Gusu district, where many of Suzhou's scenic spots and most picturesque landscapes are concentrated, is representative of the city and even the culture of the entire Jiangnan region, which stretches across vast areas of East China — from Guangdong province, near the south coast, to Shanghai, more than 1000 kilometers northeast.
Gusu district is home to numerous cultural and garden treasures, which should be well taken care of in modern times. Information technologies, and the digitalization and intelligence they bring, are now enabling high-quality and refined city management. These modern, digital creations are key to protecting the thousand-year-old district. As well as Suzhou Industrial Park, the City Operations Linkage Center in Gusu district is another application of Huawei's Smart City technologies in Suzhou. The center is part of the Smart Gusu Project — enabling indicator monitoring, making correct decisions, coordinating services, and emergency response in each corner and in every street. These are changes brought by the solution customized by Huawei based on the district's industry and culture characteristics.
The IOC in Gusu district has four highlights. First, the IOC obtains dynamic water indicators — such as changes in river water levels — through water level sensors to manage the water more effectively. Second, the IOC periodically monitors the protection of nine rivers, such as the Gucheng River and Shantang River, through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Third, the IOC detects risks in elder care institutions, communities, or homes in real time, and warns community service personnel instantly if any risk is detected. Finally, the three-dimensional (3D) map of the IOC is connected with six or more cameras and senses dynamic conditions nearby to ensure the safety of tourists.
The management of water areas, urban areas, and personnel is one of the capabilities of the City Operations Linkage Center in Gusu district. Intelligent, digital technologies have profoundly enhanced Suzhou's city management capability and will bring about a better city in the digital age.
Located at the junction of ancient counties Wu and Yue, the city created an economic model that is very important in southern Jiangsu province and was once the second in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among the top 100 counties in China, making it a leader in the Chinese county-level economy.
Suzhou Industrial Park's IOC
On top of these achievements, Wujiang is moving forward in the age of intelligence. In 2017, the city collaborated with experts from Huawei and formulated a top-level Smart City design featuring the IoT, data analysis, and intelligence, with the aim to build a national demonstration area for a brand-new Smart City. The networks for civic services, city management, ecological protection, and industries were established as well.
In 2018, the Smart Wujiang app — a Smart City application that offers a unified portal to transportation, healthcare, government, and education services — was developed and introduced to citizens, and it has done a great deal to improve their lives. Increasingly, more technologies are being used in all walks of the city, with 24/7 self-service areas established in many locations citywide. A set of goals — including establishing a quality economy, a beautiful environment, and efficient governance — will be realized once the Smart City in Wujiang is completed, giving its residents the chance to enjoy an intelligent life.
On January 4, 2021, the Suzhou Municipal Government and Huawei signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement at the Suzhou Digital Economy and Digital Development Promotion Conference. Both parties agreed to collaborate on the digital economy and key industries, and jointly build Huawei's Sangtian Island Base, China Region Government & Enterprise HQ, China Region Cloud & Computing HQ, Enterprise Business Group Global OpenLab HQ, and WLAN Global Research and Development (R&D) HQ, as well as the Industrial Internet Enablement Center, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation Center, Intelligent Connected Vehicle Test Center, Digital Industry Chain Collaboration Center, Digital Governance & Service Demonstration Center, and ICT Talent Training Center.
Huawei will apply its advanced technologies and ecosystem capabilities to enable local industries in Suzhou, boosting its digital economy and enterprise digital transformation. The city will also pool industrial resources, build industrial technologies, and expand its industrial scale — building an efficient and distinctive digital city.