Since Emperor Qin Shi Huang united China as one country in 221 B.C., China has operated under the commandery-county system of administrative divisions. In ancient China, the emperor appointed magistrates to govern the counties with the understanding that good governance ensures the stability of the nation as a whole. In the modern age of Digital China and smart society, the county-level administrative regions are facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges. Looking ahead, county-level coordination will become the defining feature of building county-level Smart Cities — and will unleash the potential of digital resources that play a significant role in the county’s transformation to a digital economy.
County-level Smart Cities: Stepping Stones to Rural Revitalization and Digital China
Huawei regards the construction of county-level Smart Cities as an important business strategy for two reasons:
- County-level Administrative Regions Occupy a Unique Position in the State Power Structure
A county-level government is a grass-roots government with complete organizational design and functional configuration. A county is the connecting point between urban and rural areas and serves important roles for economic development, safeguarding people’s livelihoods, and maintaining stability. County-level administrative regions are key to revitalizing rural development, implementing coordinated development of urban and rural areas, and building a Digital China.
- Social Governance Refinements are Needed Urgently to Replace Outdated Sources of Economic Development in Urban and Rural Areas
At present, the importance of a digital economy is self-evident. More county-level administrative regions are eager to leverage new factors of production, such as cloud computing, Big Data, the Internet, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate the replacement of old developmental agendas, innovate governmental systems and mechanisms, and address challenges in governance, livelihood services, industry growth, talent loss, and rural revitalization.
However, the overall informatization level of county-level administrative regions is still low. Some vertical industries rely heavily on upper-level departments and are isolated from other branches, resulting in data silos. In addition, many government agencies do not have their own information systems. Against this backdrop, building Smart Cities based on new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will help the county-level administrative regions upgrade their governance level and capabilities, improve the quality and efficiency of public services, speed up the replacement of outdated developmental agendas, and activate the digital economy, thereby continuously enhancing public satisfaction.
In short, county-level administrative regions are the best units for building coordinated and integrated Smart Cities. They can be the stepping stones for revitalizing rural development to realize a Digital China. How will Huawei build a county-level Smart City?
County-level Smart City Construction: Platform Coordination Is an Inevitable Trend
Currently, Smart Cities in China are sectionalized by government agencies that build separate service systems resulting in repeated investment and resource waste. These systems operate independent of each other, causing information silos and lowering governmental service quality and efficiency. The companies that recognize this problem are taking intensive measures to build new infrastructures; however, the platforms and applications are still not deeply integrated.
During the construction of a county-level Smart City, Huawei focuses on businesses and sets addressing customer challenges as the starting and end points for each engagement. Through top-level design and coordinated construction, Huawei implements in-depth integration of infrastructures, platforms, and applications.
- County-level Administrative Regions are the Best Units for Building Coordinated Smart Cities
County-level administrative regions are equipped with relatively comprehensive sets of government agencies, which make them the smallest unit sizes on which coordinated and integrated Smart Cities can be built. In addition, county-level administrative regions have fewer layers of management and relatively simple decision-making processes. Local decision makers attach great importance to business plan implementation, which makes it easier for each jurisdiction to build its own, coordinated Smart City.
- Platform Coordination is the Optimal Construction Mode for County-level Smart Cities
• Compared with traditional distributed construction, coordinated construction maximizes resource utilization, saving at least 35 percent of the investment costs and 45 percent of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) costs. The more applications that are deployed, the greater the benefits.
• Centralized operation and O&M reduce the requirements and dependency on ICT professionals.
• Data sharing, application streamlining, and efficient collaboration across government agencies are implemented.
For example, in Gaoqing, Shandong, data from 54 government agencies is now integrated, and the application systems of more than 10 government commissions, offices, and bureaus have been streamlined. Rainstorm warning data from the meteorological bureau can now be pushed to the urban management bureau’s flood warning system in real time, in order for the staff to better implement the flood emergency response plan before disaster strikes — and equip county leaders to make coordinated decisions for the emergency management departments, including traffic management, water affairs, environmental protection, and emergency handling.
County-level Smart City Solution: A Digital Platform Based on Five Coordinations
Based on successful practices in the county-level Smart City field, Huawei proposes a county-level Smart City solution featuring ‘1 network + 1 platform + N applications.’ Standard terminals, terminal data, communication protocols, and data platforms enable differentiated smart applications to meet different requirements.
- Smart City Cornerstone: eLTE Wireless Private Network, a Smart City Nervous System
eLTE is a world-leading 4.5G mobile private network technology developed by Huawei. eLTE solutions have already been deployed in a number of locations, including Shanghai’s Yangshan Port, one of the largest and most automated ports in the world. It can also be deployed in a county-level administrative region to build a Smart City nervous system that connects sensors scattered across urban and rural areas and to implement real-time data upload and command delivery, ensuring smooth communication in the region.
- Smart City Core: Building a Digital Platform Based on Five Coordinations
Through Five Coordinations, Huawei has built an integrated digital platform for county-level Smart Cities. The platform integrates cloud computing, storage, Big Data, Geographical Information System (GIS) maps, video clouds, and command and dispatch resources in counties.
• Coordination of cloud computing and storage resources: Provides unified computing and storage resources for all platforms and service application systems in Smart Cities. Government commissions, offices, and bureaus need only to apply for cloud resources based on service requirements. They have no need to purchase ICT hardware devices independently, which reduces hardware procurement and maintenance costs.
• Coordination of Big Data resources: Aggregates various data from governments, the Internet, and the IoT; supports data cleansing, analysis, application, and visualization; and provides Big Data support for city managers to improve decision-making.
• Coordination of GIS map resources: Displays all county resources on a map, including the population, legal citizens, and city component (cameras, vehicles, law enforcement personnel, hospitals, schools, fire hydrants, well covers, and kiosks) information, and supports cross-department resource scheduling based on the resource map.
• Coordination of video cloud resources: Accesses and manages video resources from different departments and industries within the county, including fixed cameras, handheld terminals, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The user-rights control function allows these video resources to be shared within authorized departments, which significantly improves the utilization of existing cameras and reduces the need for new cameras.
• Coordination of command and dispatch resources: Performs the unified command and dispatch of personnel, vehicles, and cameras managed by the county government, which greatly improves the efficiency of daily law enforcement and emergency handling. For example, when a traffic accident occurs, a police patrol officer uses a handheld terminal to send the on-site video to the city command center. The command center forwards the video to nearby hospitals, as well as traffic management and fire departments, and delivers an emergency command. In this way, related personnel can quickly understand the on-site situation and take appropriate measures.
- Smart City Vitality: N Applications
The Five Coordinations have shaped the Smart City digital platform, which provides continuous sustenance for smart applications. A wide variety of applications have been developed, forming a Smart City life that continues to evolve by itself.
Construction Practices of Coordinated County-level Smart Cities
The Five Coordinations have endowed smart applications in Gaoqing with unique value.
Take emergency management as an example. In the past, if a rainstorm occurred during the flood season, more than 20 people would be dispatched to patrol the flood-prone areas in the county, and dedicated personnel would be dispatched to the river gates to stand watch. Even so, flooding frequently occurred. Now, Gaoqing’s flood emergency management system, which was developed based on the Five Coordinations, enables multiple departments to jointly combat urban flooding. The eLTE broadband IoT dedicated network can be used to transmit the IoT monitoring information from the flood-prone areas, water gates, and all related video sources (including video from fixed cameras, smartphones, and UAVs), coordinate the information through the video cloud, and deliver it to the command center, achieving all-round awareness of the on-site situation. There is no need to dispatch a large number of human resources for patrol and attendance. Based on data shared by government commissions, offices, and bureaus, all flood-related information and resources in the county are centrally managed on a GIS map, including city components, such as well covers, cameras, water levels, emergency personnel, emergency vehicles, schools, and hospitals. In this way, resources can be quickly allocated. A gate-lifting report is automatically generated based on Big Data analytics and AI-based video analysis to help county leaders make decisions. In addition, the flood emergency management department can cooperate with the traffic management, water affairs, environmental protection, and emergency handling departments in real-time. The coordination of command and dispatch resources allows the flood emergency management department to view the emergency resources of related departments on a map to improve emergency response efficiency.
Another example is smart agriculture. It streamlines the entire industry chain; allows farmers to understand soil and water quality, what crops to plant, quantity of crops to plant, planting method, and management; and helps farmers sell fast, sell well, and earn high income during harvest. In addition, it allows consumers to know who plants and sells the crops and how the crops grow, making shopping more convenient and food healthier.
The preceding two cases are only part of the story. In 2017, Huawei transformed Gaoqing into the first coordinated county-level Smart City featuring full-area, full-domain, full-coverage, full-application, full-system, full-collaboration, and full-connectivity.
Huawei’s county-level Smart City solution is dedicated to bringing digital to every person, family, and organization in the more than 2,800 counties of China. This solution greatly improves city governance, increases citizen satisfaction, and promotes industry transformation and upgrades to truly realize the concept of “one Smart City for tens of millions of happy families.”