China running 529 smart city pilot projects

By Tony Chan

The Chinese government’s smart city program has kicked into a new gear following the release of the first guideline document last year, and the establishment of an inter-ministerial working group on the topic last October. And accordingly, vendor ZTE is looking to make smart cities a key part of its enterprise portfolio. According to Informatisation Research Department vice director Shan Zhiguang, the Chinese government has made the development of smart cities a top strategic priority, alongside its so-called Internet+ strategy for enhancing productivity across major industries.

“Smart city is a very hot topic in China,” Shen said at the ZTE media and analyst conference in Shanghai. “There are now 529 smart city-related pilot projects running in China.” Despite the large number of pilot projects, the industry still has many obstacles to overcome, particularly the lack of industry standards and definitions for different applications, he added.

“The inter-ministerial working group was set up to gain consensus on the promoting mechanisms, policies, regulation, and standards for smart city construction in China,” continued Shen, who is also China Smart City Development and Research Centre secretary general.

“The group is also working on defining and enhancing a top level design for smart cities.” The work of the group will be crucial in addressing what Shen sees as core challenges to smart city development, first and foremost of which is the need for a unified systems architecture.

Shan calls for standards

Shen calls for standardisation and assessment

While he recognised the need for localised policies when rolling out smart cities, Shen was adamant that a unified system was needed when it came to the technical implementation of application and hardware interfaces. Similarly, he argued that information also needed be unified to prevent “fragmentation;” Shen called for policies that mandate the sharing of data across a single smart city ecosystem, to prevent duplication and maximise returns.

Obviously, all the data gathered by a smart city will have to be secure. In this area, Shen called for “strict full-life cycle security management,” which includes both online security and as well as the security of the physical infrastructure.

Finally, Shen added that some form of standardisation and assessment needed to be developed at the government level to ensure smart cities comply with acceptable quality assurance levels. While the work of the inter-ministerial group is only beginning, several pilot projects are already delivering measurable benefits, said ZTE SVP, enterprise business Dr Pang Shengqing.

According to Pang, the implementation of a smart city application in Yinchuan in central China has dramatically improved engagement times for users; in another city, a smart transportation application has resulted in dramatic improvements for commuters. “Smart city is a core strategy for ZTE’s government and enterprise business,” Pang continued.

“Within 3 to 5 years, we aim to establish smart cities as a major part of the government and enterprise segment.” To date, ZTE has signed contracts with 140 smart city projects. While most of the projects are located inside China, ZTE is also making inroads internationally.

Overall, ZTE is working on smart city projects across 40 countries, including markets in Europe, South America, and Africa.

(This article first appeared in CommsDay)

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