The University Town of Shenzhen Becomes China's First Standard Wi-Fi 6 Campus
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Founded in 2001, the University Town of Shenzhen is the only research-intensive university group in China. Approved by China's Ministry of Education, it is jointly managed by the local government and three famous universities — Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, and Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen — delivering world-class education to full-time graduate students. Covering an area of 1.54 square kilometers, in 2020, more than 15,000 students and 3500 faculty members called the University Town home.
"In the past ten years or so, more than 80% of Shenzhen's entire postgraduate education has been provided by these three institutes," said Liu Ying, Director of the Administrative Office of the University Town. The University Town is therefore perfectly positioned to cultivate the highest quality talent, as well as set a benchmark for innovating university operations and scientific research in the city. Additionally, it has proved a pioneer among top-ranking universities, significantly improving the hierarchy and subject structure of higher education. It has also gained valuable experience in education reform, effectively showing the way forward for China's higher education system overall.
Indeed, over the past decade or so, the talents fostered by the University Town have directly contributed to the economic development of the whole of Shenzhen: over half of its graduates have chosen to remain in the city. In short, the University Town is not only a hotspot for talent development and cultivation, it's also a major hub for scientific research and a key center where culture and innovation flourish.
Constructing university towns by expanding university campus branches into other cities, in an effort to increase enrollment figures, has been a core part of China's strategy for developing higher education. And while most university towns look similar — without much, or any, management innovation between them — the University Town of Shenzhen represents a major development breakthrough in this regard.
Although the three institutes in the University Town of Shenzhen have their own individual features, they also share much, thanks to the hard work of its Administrative Office. Serving as an overarching management platform, from the outset, it created a unique concept for resource sharing. For example, the three universities all have access to the same pooled library services and resources, with all scientific research, literature, and basic network resources also pooled and shared between them.
Yet, as Information Technology (IT) has developed at an ever growing pace, the University Town of Shenzhen has found it increasingly critical to construct and maintain a first-class platform for its teachers and research students. And while building a cutting edge, smart campus to deliver a better experience is a challenge shared by all universities, guaranteeing a high quality network-experience is vital for any university town project to develop — and succeed.
"Huawei, a leading international Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solution provider, helped us build a sound platform to offer better services to the three institutes," Liu Ying said.
In terms of network construction, the University Town of Shenzhen had some inherent advantages. It already had a shared campus infrastructure network, with some master nodes on the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) network in Shenzhen: it could be directly connected to other university networks throughout the city with relative ease.
It was also partnered with Peng Cheng Laboratory (PCL) — a new type of scientific research institution working in the field of network communications — and already involved in building a Greater Bay Area (GBA) information resource sharing platform and a new, smart Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered campus and education cloud platform.
Sun Tao, Director of the Network Center of the Administrative Office, said: "It was our common aim to build a bearer network on top of the infrastructure network to carry different services. This aligns with maximizing the benefits for all parties and is the optimal solution from a technical point of view. Building such a network avoids repeated investment and minimizes management complexity."
To achieve that aim, the University Town deployed Huawei's next generation AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 Access Points (APs) in classrooms, dormitories, conference centers, stadiums, libraries, and outdoor facilities. These industry-leading APs reduce network frame freezing and delays when a large number of users access the network concurrently. Together with Huawei CloudEngine S12700E's 100 GE ports, the APs can handle demanding scenarios characterized by heavy traffic bursts, such as distance learning and High Definition (HD) videoconferencing. Even in the auditorium, which can seat thousands, the network supports live broadcasting, online interactions, social media access, and much more without compromising the user experience.
Meanwhile, the convergence of Wi-Fi 6 and Internet of Things (IoT) networks has enabled the campus network to develop sensing capabilities. The launch of innovative applications — such as smart library book inspection (which successfully identifies miscataloged books), asset management, and Electronic Shelf Labeling (ESL) — has created a smart service experience. A variety of smart services have also been introduced, including a suite of one-code services — wherein the user simply generates a single QR code on their smart phone to access multiple services — from book borrowing and signing in for classrooms and conferences, to services in canteens, supermarkets, and stadiums. This one-code experience even extends to making shipping payments and accessing physical dormitories and campuses.
Now, after the implementation of a converged Wi-Fi 6 and IoT network, libraries can introduce intelligent spot-check robots, for example, to collect and locate Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) data based on the IoT network, and upload and update information about miscataloged books in real-time — all through Wi-Fi 6. Such robots boost the efficiency of libraries, supporting the automatic stocktaking of around 700,000 books.
Beyond obvious requirements — such as high bandwidth and low latency — future-proof networks must also have intelligent features. That is, they must use cutting-edge technologies such as AI and Machine Learning (ML) to ensure the network and service experience as well as satisfy a range of network deployment, O&M, and security needs. To meet such needs, Huawei's smart campus solution supports automated network deployment, intelligent network O&M, and proactive security defense services. As such, Huawei's intelligent big data analytics platform — iMaster NCE- CampusInsight — proactively detects issues based on big data, optimizes networks, and guarantees the experience of mission-critical services. By using wireless network data to analyze user tracks and traffic models, the platform also improves campus governance.
With the construction of its smart campuses, the University Town of Shenzhen has made great strides toward digitalization. It has deployed network infrastructure that ensures an ultra-fast network experience, implemented intelligent AI-powered O&M, delivered a wide range of novel applications on an open platform, and proposed the innovative "Four Ones" concept — "one number, one network, one code, and one screen."
"One number" to experience refined services: A superior wireless access experience anytime, anywhere, and in all scenarios, all powered by AirEngine Wi-Fi 6.
"One network" to share valuable resources: Unified user identity authentication and seamless roaming across campuses, achieving comprehensive sharing and an Autonomous Driving Network (ADN).
"One code" to enjoy a smart campus life: Wi-Fi and IoT convergence helps build a perceiving and sensing campus network.
"One screen" to obtain the latest campus news and information: Intelligent big data analytics improves the network-wide experience and enriches smart science and education campus services, boosting the quality of education and the efficiency of operations and management.
The University Town of Shenzhen has evolved into a leading demonstration area that has become the benchmark for the convergence of industry, education, and research. As such, it is the first institution to construct a smart science and education campus that provides teachers and students alike with shared, high-quality services based on AirEngine Wi-Fi 6. This sharing platform now stands as a model, one that other university towns and campuses can — and should — follow.