Smart city technology improves quality of life in China
Artificial intelligence and big data are said to be helping urban management officials make Chinese cities smarter.
The city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province has seen its ranking on China's list of congested cities drop from fifth place down to 57 over two years, thanks to a smart city solution called "City Brain" operated by Alibaba.
A policeman watches surveillance camera feeds of Hangzhou's transportation network at a control center in the city. [Photo: China Plus]
The system, which is supported by artificial intelligence and cloud computing technology, can automatically detect traffic congestion hot spots and accidents, which helps city authorities to respond to a small problem before it grows into a big one.
Traffic policeman Yu Limin, who has worked with the "City Brain" since 2017, says the system has greatly improved the efficiency of the city's road network.
"According to our calculation, the 'City Brain' provides 40 to 50 thousand alarms daily, about nine times the number of traditional reports. It finds the problems before the road users notice them. Our control center can then dispatch motorcycles to deal with the problems as quickly as possible. It is the equivalent of having an addition of 200 police officers on our team," says Yu.
Traffic policeman Yu Limin (L) discusses the operation of the Hangzhou "City Brain" with an engineer at a control center in the city. [Photo: China Plus]
And the application of smart city technology is expanding into other areas, including public services, medical care, tourism, and sports.
During this year's annual session of China's top legislature, the National People's Congress, Hangzhou Mayor Xu Liyi, who is one of the country's legislators, says the city will make better use of artificial intelligence technology.
"We will take the opportunity of the smart Asian Games and the commercialization of 5G to enhance the combination of artificial intelligence and city governance. Further attention will be paid to the difficulties in city governance to speed up the realization of smart public services and social governance," says Xu.
This kind of new smart technology has already changed people's lives, says Chen Wei, a Hangzhou resident.
"I don't carry my wallet in Hangzhou because I pay everything without using cash; it's very convenient. Many government services can be accessed electronically. We enjoy easy parking, as well as convenient services in hospitals. In Hangzhou you can feel the convenience provided by the application of information and data everywhere," says Chen.
Sun Pishu is the chairman and CEO of China's leading cloud computing and big data services provider Inspur, and also a member of the national legislature.
He says smart city technology should first serve people's basic needs, before then being applied to support other aspects of life in the city.
Inspur Chairman and CEO Sun Pishu (L2), who is also a member of China's national legislature, at a panel discussion at the National People's Congress in Beijing on Friday, March 8, 2019. [Photo: China Plus]
Sun says operators like Alibaba and Inspur act as coordinators to the implementation process, and that they should cooperate with each other more than they compete.
"Smart city operators help with the planning, financing, building, and running of the cities. These operators should cooperate and learn from each other. Our collective goal is to build smart cities that optimize government administration and better serve our people and our industries," says Sun.
Inspur's smart city application icity365 provides one-stop public services based on government statistics. It has been rolled out in 38 cities around China.