As we get set for a new round of breakthroughs in digital technologies, devel-oping Smart Cities is now a worldwide trend. The essence of building these Smart Cities is applying the latest digital technologies to implement intelligent city management and operations. With this approach, the city will create a bet-ter living and working environment for residents, establish a favorable business climate for enterprises, and build more efficient operation and management mechanisms for the city government. While developing Smart Cities, however, there's a tendency among some city governors to have certain misconceptions — seeing the development of a Smart City as a project that can be construct-ed and completed all at once, for example. Because of this kind of thinking, many so-called Smart City projects lack both basic functions and features that are user-friendly for city governors.
To tackle such Smart City development challenges — and many others — Huawei has applied its 20-plus years of digital transformation experience to create a set of system design and supporting services for Smart City opera-tions. The company also provides network operators with end-to-end operation and supporting architectures. Beyond that, it works with partners to offer cus-tomers operation and management services to drive the sustainable develop-ment of Smart Cities and build a Smart City system that is efficient and user-friendly for city governors.
Smart City Development Challenges
In 2012, China piloted the Smart City concept, administered by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Ministry of Science and Tech-nology. Since then, China has made substantial progress in Smart City devel-opment, and more than 500 cities nationwide have now established Smart City development plans or practices.
As Smart Cities develop, though, a set of challenges is emerging. For exam-ple, they over-emphasize the importance of informatization and platform setup, while neglecting the importance of applications that are jointly innovated by multiple parties and help with specific urban management issues. Meanwhile, the data, applications, and duties of city governance agencies aren't fully inte-grated, leading to fragmented management of the city. Another issue is deter-mining how to balance the long-term Smart City development plan and the short-term project goals. Finally, Smart City planners must devise strategies that bring in revenue to fund Safe City development.
To address these challenges systematically, city governors need to maintain a long-term strategic outlook in Smart City development. Meanwhile, they must also deal with the challenges through top-level planning. Prerequisites must be designed to ensure good operations during the construction period, and con-tinuous operations will drive the sustainable development of Smart Cities.
City Operation and Supporting System for Sustainable Development
A Smart City needs to operate throughout a long time period, so an operation supporting service system must be set up, to manage all the city's systems and enable the technologies that it uses to be applied in innovative ways. With the development of technology, software and hardware products are iterated rapidly, bringing about many issues, such as outdated design, system incom-patibility, or difficulties with Operations and Maintenance (O&M) and upgrades.
In this context, we must consider how a Smart City should be developed to be more elastic, intensive, and sustainable, in an architecture that is agile, modu-lar, and comprises multiple components in the future. More city governors are introducing — or are aware that they need to introduce — an open and innova-tive digital platform to their Smart City informatization architecture, which ena-bles elastic resource scalability, sustainable technology evolution, and agile application iteration.
As well as mature products, the platform under development should also inte-grate an open mechanism and technical architecture, to facilitate future itera-tion and evolution. To address this issue, Huawei needs to build an operation system and develop supporting tools to manage platforms, data, applications, and service scenarios in the Smart City system based on the characteristics of the previous Smart City development phase. In this way, the Smart City sys-tem becomes more user-friendly, so citizens, enterprises, and city governors will be more enthusiastic about using it.
Huawei will also build an operation measurement and evaluation system to evaluate the effectiveness of Smart City investments. This means cities are able to invest more into application service systems that are proven to have a high Return On Investment (ROI). In this case, the system will become more user-friendly and retain users better. Meanwhile, users are able to see which systems have a low ROI (for example, they have a low click-through rate) and should either be reconfigured or shut down.
Customer-Centric Incubation Operation Supporting Ser-vices
Huawei has provided services for multiple typical City Brain (IOC scenario) and digital government base (digital platform scenario) projects. We will invite ex-perts — specializing in solution design, services, and platform operations — to gain in-depth insights into customer requirements, especially the concerns and mindsets of bureaus for government data and big data management, to identi-fy pain points in their existing solutions as well as design better offerings. Dur-ing these City Brain projects, Huawei develops an operation supporting service solution that's enabled by City Digital Twins.
Operation Planning and Management
Huawei has years of experience in public services digital transformation and understands customer requirements in various industries. The company has developed a set of customer-centric service operations and a management system, entailing the establishment of digital operation regulations, operation scheme development standards and design specifications, as well as over 1000 industry-specific key metric assets.
The standard operation system enables customers to develop a set of opera-tion organization, process, standards, and specifications based on customer requirements — allowing operating collaboration and contributing to more or-derly, efficient, and rapid digital operations.
Application Operation Support
For smart applications in the Smart City digital solution — such as fields that the City Brain makes decisions about, one-network services, and one-network management — we should perform continuous operations, including the ena-blement and promotion of applications, application effect evaluation, operations to retain users, and updates to the intelligent applications' services. We must also continuously improve the experience of citizens, enterprises, and civil servants in using Smart City applications, and increase the value of these smart applications in city operations.
Data Operation Support
To continuously maximize the value of city operation data, we need to extract clean data from data sources, demonstrate how valuable that data is, and achieve data intelligence. We must also carry out data operation support ser-vices, including standard management, process management, and operation assurance.
Digital Technology Operation Support
Digital platforms are the technical cornerstones that enable Smart City opera-tions, and they require standard methods and processes for digital platform architecture governance. During the planning, design, and implementation of an informatization project, a set of services are required, including design guidance, general capability identification, application solution review, general service development or invoking, platform interconnection development, inter-connection technology support, and delivery acceptance. Intelligent applica-tions are embedded in the platform, to accumulate data assets and reduce the need for investments into duplicate projects. During project operations, the platforms are analyzed, optimized, and promoted in training sessions, ensuring that they run stably and that everyone involved will know how to use them.
Scenario-Based Operation Support
A set of strategic systems, models, and regulations ensure the City IOC's monitoring, command, and decision assistance functions as well as standard operations in the long term. Technology enables such urban services as gov-ernment affairs, governance, and decision-making — leading to an effective operation center.
This City Digital Twin operation-supporting service solution has been applied in many projects. The City Brain project in Shenzhen is a good example: Huawei's City IOC operation-supporting service solution helps build an end-to-end system to efficiently analyze data flows in the platform, making topic anal-ysis and reports possible. Service topic development has become much more efficient. The period for development and rollout has been reduced from one week to just one day. The data quality, personnel efficiency, and exception closure rates of the City Brain are improved by nearly 30%, 45%, and 40% re-spectively, while the exception response time and total cost are reduced by 30% and 20%.
Meanwhile, in the digital platform project in Zhangjiagang — in Jiangsu prov-ince, East China — Huawei applies the platform operation supporting services and has worked with the big data center to incubate a digital capability demon-stration and operation platform. The digital platform provides both the govern-ment and enterprises with a comprehensive understanding of their services, resources, data, and security that's visual and easy to follow.
Huawei has five fields in which it continuously monitors Key Performance Indi-cators (KPIs): cloud-network resources, service resources, data resources, security situation, and warning analysis — supporting the regeneration and re-use of digital assets and improving the ROI of IT. Huawei's team helps the government manage the IT architecture. In smart emergency application pro-jects, Huawei works with application vendors to review and analyze each role and service flow with the aim to identify eight service scenarios that require 12 general digital platform capabilities. This prevents repeat investments and has saved the Zhangjiagang government US$7 million.
To improve the asset platform, Huawei has launched and continuously operat-ed more than 20 industry services, 13 new ICT services, and 30 customized services, quickly building government agency applications and supporting the sustainable development of digital assets.
An Ecosystem For the Future
Ecosystem partners are key to developing Huawei's operation support service solution. Huawei is committed to developing city operation technology, and works with many online and offline partners to integrate resources and contin-uously innovate — aiming to drive the smooth running and evolution of City Digital Twins.
Working toward that aim, Huawei has collaborated with over 30 industry solu-tion service partners and more than 10 partners that provide City IOC devel-opment tools. These partnerships strengthen Huawei's service capabilities and enhance its operation supporting features. Looking forward, Huawei hopes to collaborate with more operation partners, and to provide more operation sup-port services for industry customers — ultimately creating more user-friendly IOCs to put Smart Cities in a position to thrive.