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LETDA’s ‘Smart Brain’ Unleashes Data’s Potential

By Chen Guangcheng, Chief Editor of the AI-Clubs

An Intelligent Operation Center (IOC) is key to the development of Smart Cities: it creates a new operation and governance model in terms of monitoring incidents and sounding the alarm, supporting decision-making, and handling events.

To satisfy this need, Langfang Economic and Technical Development Area (LETDA) and Huawei recently launched a joint IOC program (Phase I). This program is positioned as the ‘Smart Brain’ of the whole LETDA, deploying an urban index system to quantify the city’s status. Using a rendering engine with 2D/3D integration, the IOC displays a panoramic view of the area, presenting a clear visual overview of the overall situation for city managers. Based on this kind of data, the government can better develop the economy while protecting the local environment, enhance city governance capabilities, and improve people’s livelihoods and overall well-being.

LETDA Activates Accumulated Data

An IOC has a key role in applying a city’s big data, improving the efficiency of governance, and optimizing its development structure. The main objective of constructing the IOC in LETDA is to make best use of such data.

LETDA’s unified construction of information systems — such as Wi-Fi, big data, smart government, and smart environmental protection — laid a foundation for service data. However, LETDA lacked a key platform to carry related services and provide unified information services externally. This is why the IOC became a priority for its Smart City development.

In the Smart City field, the term ‘huge system’ is often used. It indicates a large system that is composed of several sub-systems and involves complex interactions, collaborations, and interoperations between multiple departments or subsystems of the city. Data collection and processing is a basic task in Smart City construction. The objective of such construction is to formulate a virtuous cycle by collecting data, promoting data analysis and application, and further improving data refinement.

LETDA encountered a series of challenges, including ineffective data analysis, application and display; severe information fragmentation; and the lack of data-driven intelligence support. Indeed, a large amount of data of government departments was accumulated with little flow or convergence. This meant that the data could not be used to detect city management and operations problems, or to present city governors with comprehensive and authentic data images; essentially, it was unable to provide effective analytical support for decision-making.

Given these problems, LETDA urgently needed to build a unified data-driven knowledge and intelligence system to support government operation and management systems, improve the intelligent support level of cross-department city planning, support policy formulation, and assist decision-making.

1 Brain, 2 Coordinations, and 3 Capabilities

LETDA and Huawei’s ‘Smart Brain’ features the ‘123 Standard’: 1 brain, 2 coordinations, and 3 capabilities. The area uses new technologies — such as Internet of Things (IoT), big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud computing — to construct an IOC for the Smart City, realizing area-wide situational display and coordinated management.

• 1 Brain: As the digital brain and nerve hub of the government’s management services, the IOC in LETDA uses existing information foundations, such as the government network, the Internet, IoT, the city’s big data platform, and its video networking integration application service platform. On these foundations, the IOC can sense the city’s dynamic running status, building a scientific big data index system and analysis model, and performing timely alarm and prediction functions, providing decision-making analysis support for city managers to implement efficient and effective governance.

• 2 Coordinations: First, the IOC allows the coordination of area-wide resource information, including material resources, data resources, and human resources. The resources are integrated into the IOC and become the foundation of the city’s management capabilities. Second, the coordinated construction of a set of operation mechanisms enables cross-level, cross-departmental, and cross-service management and collaboration. Meanwhile, a set of IOC operation and management mechanisms featuring dynamic perception, intelligent alarm, collaborative governance, and comprehensive evaluation, addresses the issue of fragmented city governance.

• 3 Capabilities: The three capabilities — operation monitoring and perception, scientific analysis and decision-making, and collaborative city governance — support the IOC’s operation management.

Operation monitoring and perception enables the dynamic perception of the city’s overall information, displayed on a screen. Scientific analysis and decision-making offers support for the government’s management service departments. Finally, collaborative city governance allows dynamic display — on a screen — of various events in the city’s management services, providing monitoring, perception, alarm, management, analysis, and evaluation of various events that occur in the city.

The construction of the IOC for the government’s management services allows dynamic, comprehensive and real-time access of various events in the city’s management services through multiple channels. In this way, the government can monitor, perceive, alarm, manage, analyze, and evaluate various events that occur in the city, enact the ‘Internet Plus’ Action Plan, as well as improve intelligent collaborative city governance capabilities, with increased efficiency and fewer layers of management.

The IOC’s ‘1 Brain + 2 Coordinations + 3 Capabilities’ will help LETDA reach a new level in terms of the scientific, refined, and intelligent management of the city.

IOC Benefits from Urban Data

The IOC for the Smart City processes urban data in a visualized manner. It plays a significant role in promoting the area’s economic operation, environmental protection, city governance, and people’s livelihoods.

• Economic operations: The economic operations section innovatively enables the comprehensive perception of the city’s economic operational status, allowing decision makers to efficiently implement macro- and micro-level control. For example, based on big data analytics, LETDA has taken measures in several aspects — including technological innovation, energy saving, and emissions reduction — to overcome economic weaknesses. The government has also deployed innovative industries, attracted talents, and strengthened the government’s support to help implement many projects. All these measures have greatly improved the area’s overall economic vitality.

The government can monitor the economic operational situation from multiple angles, including the speed, quality, structure, and level of innovation. The area can use the multi-dimensional display of this information to provide comprehensive support for decision makers, attract targeted enterprises, make valuable investments, and accelerate the transformation of the area’s industrial structure. Indeed, the area has formed four emerging industry clusters: electronic information; comprehensive culture and comprehensive health; new materials and new energy; and high-end equipment manufacturing. The four clusters include 104 enterprises and account for only 2.5 percent of the total number of enterprises, but they contribute 50.2 percent of the total tax in the area. Meanwhile, the energy conservation and environmental protection industry, high-end equipment manufacturing industry, and new material industry have been developing rapidly. The number of enterprises and the tax output value are both growing rapidly, and several outstanding enterprises have emerged.

• Environmental protection: Based on a Geographic Information System (GIS) map, the IOC displays distributed monitoring sites of the environmental protection agency in the area (such as air quality monitoring stations and river water quality monitoring sections), as well as sources of major environmental hazards and hazardous waste disposal units. The IOC can monitor and display the real-time running status of these sites, displaying real-time monitoring data and showing data fluctuations at each site. The construction of the environmental protection map enables visualized environmental supervision, standardized performance evaluation, and scientific environmental decision-making. As a result, the area’s atmospheric environment has noticeably improved, the concentration of major pollutants in the watershed has decreased annually in recent years, and the greenbelt coverage index has surpassed that of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Metropolitan Region.

The quality monitoring of river water is a prime example. A monitored section of Fenghe River Basin in the area generated an alarm, indicating that the concentration of major pollutants was rapidly increasing. The alarm information was transmitted to the area’s IOC and displayed on the monitoring screen. When they received the alarm, environmental protection agency personnel immediately activated the video surveillance system and water sensors to monitor the real-time pollution status, and dispatched staff to identify the source of the pollution. With the all-round collaboration and linkage of the intelligent monitoring system, the environmental protection agency quickly handled the incident — achieving immediate incident discovery, dispatch, and handling.

• City governance: The ‘city governance’ section accesses various city events, such as social safety, city management events, production safety, and fire safety, realizing panoramic monitoring of city governance and real-time tracking of objects. For example, the government can connect to the systems — such as the area’s big data, mayor’s hotline (12345), and comprehensive law enforcement — to view various events occurring in the city on any given day.

The IOC geographic information platform allows emergency response departments to easily receive, verify, and handle reports of emergencies. For example, when receiving an alarm reporting a fire near a company in the area, on-duty personnel can quickly use the system’s location retrieval function to automatically locate the incident. The video surveillance system then enables staff to quickly check the situation around the incident location and improve the emergency check efficiency. Once the incident is confirmed, on-duty personnel can quickly obtain related information, such as whether there are any schools or hazardous chemical enterprises located within the affected area; immediately notify relevant parties about evacuation; and inform fire rescue workers of the location of fire facilities and other emergency resources nearby, to assist with rescue operations. The area has also effectively improved the level of city governance through strict controls over petitioning (the administrative system for hearing individuals’ complaints and grievances in China), comprehensive law enforcement, fire safety, and production safety.

• Livelihood and happiness: The ‘livelihood and happiness’ section enables the analysis of the comprehensive livelihood and happiness status of the people living in the area, combining nine metrics: the residents’ happiness index, government services, education environment, medical environment, social security, employment security, culture and sports, ecological environment, and transportation. LETDA hopes to improve people’s livelihood through comprehensive and systematic social policy innovation, and realize various social undertakings, to establish a livelihood development system that is rich, healthy, and happy. In the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan (which covers 2016 through 2020), Langfang states that it will strategically focus on “the comprehensive security and improvement of people’s livelihood.” IOC data shows that the residents’ happiness index has been rising over the years; the health index, welfare index, civilization index, and ecological index are also showing good progress.

The IOC for the Smart City presents the area’s overall situation in a panoramic display, fully explores and analyzes data values, and drives scientific decision-making with data, embedding a ‘Smart Brain’ for LETDA’s social development.

IOC Enables LETDA to Become a Smart City Area

LETDA’s development of the IOC is still ongoing. In the future, the IOC will access more urban operations data and applications, to optimize decision-making processes based on the city’s big data, thereby playing a more important role in government decision-making, the city’s economic development and governance, and well-being of its residents.

Speeding up the construction of China’s first-class digital park and Smart City is an important part of LETDA’s mission to improve its development level; it is also a powerful tool to optimize its business and development environment. It can help enterprises in the area accelerate digital transformation and with industrial upgrades, cultivate new development momentum, and provide impetus for the development of the area’s economy.

Huawei has vast experience in constructing Smart Cities, with its solution serving over 200 cities in more than 40 countries. LETDA is cooperating with Huawei to build the IOC for the Smart City. This cooperation lays a foundation and represents a breakthrough in the overall development of the Smart City.

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