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Intelligent Operations Center: A Smart Brain for City Management

By Pei Yong, Smart City Solution Department, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Objectives and Positioning of the IOC

In the construction of an Intelligent City, an Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) is crucial. As the smart brain of a city, the IOC needs to fulfill the responsibilities of the four centers of the city: the decision-making, warning, governance, and command centers.

• Decision-making center: Big data is used for data analytics and mining in order to present the key points and difficulties in city management, supporting government decision-making.

• Warning center: Predicts potential risks, and provides warnings in advance to prevent major emergencies.

• Governance center: Collects, processes, and monitors city operations in a unified manner to improve collaboration efficiency, implement quick response, optimize city management resources, and improve city governance.

• Command center: When a major event or emergency occurs in the city, the command center coordinates multiple departments to implement unified command, action, and resource allocation, achieving cross-level, cross-region, and cross-department command and dispatch. The command center must support video dispatching, multi-party communication, video consultation, and mobile office operations, to ensure that the command center is available wherever the government officials are. This enables the officials to make informed decisions remotely if there is an emergency.

Huawei’s IOC Application Scenarios

The functions of Huawei’s IOC can be summarized as ‘1 + 4.’ ‘1’ refers to the display of the overall situation of a city, and ‘4’ refers to the four platforms of decision-making support, monitoring and warning, event management, and collaborative command. The overall situation is displayed like a dashboard for city administrators, presenting them with the running status of the city as well as potential risks.

The decision-making support platform is used to analyze data in detail and assist decision-making, issuing work instructions through forecast analysis, drilling analysis, and comparison analysis. When the root cause of a problem is identified, it needs to be solved and cross-department work arrangements need to be made. The work instructions generated are sent to the incident management platform, which processes it as a normal task, assigning it to responsible departments. Department managers only need to track the incident-handling process.

The monitoring and warning platform can proactively detect potential risks and problems, and generate alarms as the information input for incident management or emergency command. Common alarms are handled by the incident management platform in a cross-department manner. When the nature of an incident changes or major risks are detected, the incident is escalated to the joint command platform for handling.

The monitoring and warning platform sends detected alarms to the IOC dashboard for display, so that city administrators and operations personnel can obtain the alarm information in real time. In addition, the platform sends the alarm information to the emergency command service module for emergency response. The alarm is then handled through collaborative command and dispatch.

The functions and platforms, such as overall situation display and decision-making support, complement each other and effectively implement closed-loop city management and operations.

  • Overall Situation Display

The overall situation display platform displays data from key operational indicators of a city, and implements panoramic analysis of economic innovation, people’s livelihoods and happiness, government services, the human environment, comprehensive governance, and the public security of a city. The overall situation analysis is characterized by fixed analysis indicators. The key indicators concerning city administrators are selected and customized based on the city’s needs, and may include many global-level indicators. In addition, indicators can be adjusted based on service development and more suitable indicators can be selected for display. Indicators are displayed graphically, and are intuitive, vivid, and easy to understand.

The overall situation analysis of the IOC provides a panoramic view of the city for city administrators and decision-makers. It automatically generates and visualizes key indicators of city operations. This changes the current situation, characterized by information separation and data fragmentation, and instead enables city managers to have a comprehensive view of their city. They can gain insight into the city’s running status at macro-, medium-, and micro-levels using these key indicators.

For example, in Longgang District, Shenzhen, the local government leaders can use Huawei’s IOC system to view the overall running status of the whole district on one screen. Seven graphs are displayed on the large screen in the IOC hall, displaying the overall situation, economic development, public security, events, government services, living environment, and people’s livelihood throughout the district. The seven graphs contain more than 1,600 indicators in seven categories, reflecting the running status of all aspects in Longgang in real time. In addition, government leaders can access the IOC through mobile terminals and LED screens anytime and anywhere.

A glance at the IOC

  • Decision-Making Support

The decision-making support platform performs comparison, association, trend, prediction, and drilling analyses on data to implement in-depth topic analysis, identify the root cause of a problem, and provide decision-making support. Compared with overall situation display, topic analysis places higher requirements on the depth and width of basic data. Therefore, special data analysis models are required. The decision-making support platform can use different data sources and analysis models to address different problems. Therefore, the IOC can carry data from multiple industry application fields and develop analysis models of multiple fields to implement decision analysis.

The decision-making support platform provides a series of tips for city managers and decision-makers, helping them solve problems in city management. Cities around the world face the same problems in development — such as rapid population growth, traffic congestion, and environmental pollution — and all can learn from each other.

Based on the city’s big data, the decision-making support platform provides topic analysis applications in various fields. These applications are usually developed by Huawei’s ecosystem partners (usually big data companies or scientific research institutes from specific fields) and have been successfully implemented in many cities. By using the decision-making support platform, ecosystem partners can deploy their best practices and professional analysis models on the platform, and then adopt the same applications in other cities. They can also continuously upgrade and optimize their models, and accumulate experience and knowledge to improve the prediction capability and accuracy of analysis models. This greatly reduces the experimentation costs and shortens the development period. The IOC decision-making support platform has attracted hundreds of analysis models, in more than 10 domains from 300 ecosystem partners. The platform will continue to accumulate more models to provide rich content and input for the availability and practicability of the IOC.

The decision-making support platform of the IOC has activated government big data that has been inactive for many years, optimizing its huge value. By integrating the data of different government departments as well as data from the Internet, in-depth data analysis and mining can be performed. Data has now become a new industry, and a driving force of urban development in terms of city management, environmental protection, and public service.

For example, the Tianjin TEDA Group used the IOC decision-making support platform to develop the one-person-one-file application, which outlines public opinions and requirements, work directions, and difficulties for the government as it provides public services. The app also provides abundant data for optimal urban management and social governance. Another example involves Longgang in Shenzhen. The Longgang government used the IOC decision-making support platform to monitor industrial and economic operations, industrial land use, and enterprise migration. The platform offers a barometer for analyzing the economic operations of Longgang and provides strong support for the government to formulate effective policies.

  • Monitoring and Warning

The IOC can collect and filter alarms generated by different application systems of the city, generate a list of alarms that need to be processed, and respond to (and handle) alarms using emergency response or event management, analysis, and assessment.

The IOC implements association analysis for alarm information from different departments and systems, including alarms from geological disasters, social events, bad weather, major epidemics, traffic accidents, flammable and explosive sources, production safety risks, and fire risks, assessing the risks behind alarm information based on the warning mode to determine the risk level of the alarm. Then, the system can carry out emergency plans to cope with the risks. Furthermore, the IOC can be directly connected with Internet of Things (IoT) system to obtain the status information of facilities and devices in real time. Based on the warning model, the IOC then analyzes potential risks, generates warnings, displays the information on the IOC dashboard, and notifies corresponding departments or personnel in real time. In addition, the monitoring and warning platform of the IOC can help respond to emergencies through geographical locating tools, onsite video transmission, display of different levels of alarms in different colors, and notifying relevant personnel through multiple channels (including emails, calls, SMS, and WeChat messages).

For example, in the Tianjin Eco-City IOC project, the video-sharing platform and Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform were used to analyze the traffic flow of roads in the city, realizing early traffic warning then implementing automatic control of traffic lights, effectively alleviating traffic congestion during rush hours. Another example is Longgang’s IOC project in Shenzhen, which uses the video sharing platform and AI platform during its second phase to analyze HD surveillance videos, and implement seven types of pre-alarms, including pre-alarms for people gathering, pre-alarms for illegal road occupation, and pre-alarms for illegal vehicles. This solved the challenges faced by the district, including limited management resources, and large-scale monitoring.

  • Event Management

The city’s IOC system is usually responsible for cross-department event handling. Events that can be independently handled by a single department do not need to be handled by the IOC. As such, the IOC handles events that require coordination across departments. In the entire event management process, responsible departments need to know their corresponding nodes and the work to be done at the nodes. In addition, a work prompt message is sent to corresponding node owners, so that they can start processing tasks. By monitoring and evaluating the event management process, city administrators can learn about the performance results and position of each department (assessed by the IOC) in a timely manner.

The event management platform cannot replace the existing service application systems of each department in a city. Instead, it cooperates with the existing systems to implement cross-organization, streamlined work processes. Additionally, the event management platform is also responsible for events that are not clearly defined and need to be assigned to different departments, or events that have a major impact and need to be decided by top government officials. For example, requests received from citizens by the hotline, requests from citizens or enterprises that cannot be clearly attributed to a specific department, or events that cannot be handled by government departments, offices, or bureaus, and need to be escalated to higher-level departments for decision-making.

The event management platform of the IOC promotes the upgrade of city management from a modular, grid model to an intelligent model. New technologies and tools are used to greatly improve working and communication efficiency, driving the reform of government operations and organizational structure, and allowing governments to establish a management system that features quick response, controllable processes, and integration of supervision and guidance.

Huawei is piloting and exploring the event management platform in the phase-2 IOC project in Longgang, Shenzhen; the IOC project in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu; and the IOC project in Huangpu, Shanghai.

  • Collaborative Command

The event management platform of the IOC handles daily incidents, while the collaborative command platform handles critical and emergency events. The handling of major events depends on the preset contingency plans for coordinating personnel, organizations, resources, and facilities in a unified manner, in order to achieve cross-department, cross-region, and cross-industry collaboration, while eliminating security risks during major public events.

While major incidents are identified and reported by IOC personnel or members of the public, major potential risks are automatically detected and reported by the IOC monitoring and warning platform. When handling incidents, the IOC collaborative command platform can implement ‘one-screen display, one-click command, and one order for all.’

• One-screen display: The collaborative command platform visualizes resources, and facilitates quick search, location, and unified scheduling. The video and image of the accident scene can be sent back to the IOC display in real time. The execution process and progress of the emergency plan can be visually displayed on the IOC’s screen. Experts and stakeholders can hold remote video conferences using the IOC screen. The IOC’s large screens, medium-sized screens (such as desktop computers, conference room screens, or outdoor LED screens), and small screens (such as smartphones or tablets) support multi-screen synchronization.

• One-click command: The collaborative command platform enables one-click initiation and automatic emergency plan command. Resources — personnel, vehicles, and materials — are prepared based on preset plans, while fire, first aid, environmental protection, and transportation departments collaborate to complete tasks accordingly. In this way, efficient cross-organizational collaboration is implemented and the response speed is improved. In addition, one-click command can initiate multi-party video conferences and message communications, allowing personnel from different departments, regions, levels, and roles to participate in the command and dispatch process during major events. The one-click command function enables users to connect to multiple communication devices, such as mobile terminals, fixed-line phones, and video conferences, with one click, making communication simple and fast.

• One order for all: The collaborative command platform emphasizes that a comprehensive emergency plan must be prepared to respond to major events. The decision-makers of a city must be able to take over the highest command power of the IOC in emergencies. Directives issued by the IOC must be executed by all departments and personnel. Each department needs to respond quickly to reduce damage and avoid the loss of life caused by incidents. The IOC needs to provide a mobile command center for city managers and decision-makers to ensure that city leaders can access the IOC anytime, anywhere.

The IOC collaborative command platform combines key event command with the city’s big data, enabling big data-based, scientific command. The platform also supports the sharing of platform resources when managing both major events and daily incidents.

For example, the IOC project in Pingwang, Suzhou, provides a ‘one-screen display.’ The town’s mayor uses the IOC to monitor videos in real time and view basic information about infrastructure, sanitation, and personnel in key areas, as well as the town’s environmental status. City managers use this information to issue command to the necessary departments in real time, implementing unified video dispatching and command.

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