• Shelley Tsang 曾雯海

Unleash the Cities' Potential - 5G empowers smart cities

Updated: Jun 11, 2020


Urbanisation is one of the most critical socio-economic phenomena in the world today. At present, about 50% of the global population lives in cities. As the urbanisation process continues to accelerate, this proportion is expected to exceed 70% by 2050. With the continuous accumulation of people in cities, the formation of new metropolises and urban agglomerations, the problems of traffic congestion, environmental degradation, lack of resources, and the decline in the quality of life of residents caused by urbanisation have become increasingly prominent. How to achieve sustainable urban development has become Issues of concern to city managers. In this context, the concept of the smart city came into being.


Image: Urbanisation is one of the most important socio-economic phenomena in the world today



Smart city systems


"Smart city" is a new perspective on the city, fresh thinking for the development of the city, and a continuation of the construction of the digital city. It has a crucial significance in the planning, management, operation and long-term development of the city. In 2010, IBM formally proposed the "smart city" vision, hoping to contribute to the development of cities in the world and China. After research, IBM believes that the city is composed of six core systems of different types of networks, infrastructure and environment that are related to the main functions of the city, including 1. organization (person), 2. business/government, 3. transportation, 4. Communication, 5. Water, and 6. Energy. These systems are collaboratively connected, and the city itself is a macro system composed of these systems.


The creation of a smart city is a multi-dimensional and systematic large-scale project. Urban planning and smart city planning must be highly integrated, and the development of modern cities is based on digitalization. In the process of urban planning, the application of leading digital and smart technologies must be considered. Similarly, when planning a smart city, the development pattern of the city also needs to be considered. In the 21st century, smart cities should make full use of information and communication technology to sense, analyze, and integrate essential information of the city’s core operating system. Only by responding intelligently to various needs can we create a better city life for humanity.


Empowering smart cities


As the latest generation of wireless communication technology, 5G's ultra-high-speed, ultra-low latency, and ultra-large connection characteristics have had an enormous impact on the construction of smart cities. The ubiquitous sensor network based on 5G can deeply integrate the development of people, machines and things, and realize the intelligent connection of all things in a smart city. At the same time, 5G can also be deeply integrated with a new generation of information technology represented by cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things. By enabling 5G networks, network resources can be flexibly configured according to end application scenarios to meet the network differentiation needs of smart cities. Therefore, 5G wireless communication technology will become a critical capillary to support urban development and empower smart cities.


Image: 5G wireless communication technology empowers smart cities (Getty Images)



In the planning of smart cities, foreign cities regard network communication as another critical infrastructure in addition to physical facilities. Early smart city construction was mainly driven by technology, lacking top-level design and unified planning. The development of smart cities at that time focused on digital fabrication, supported by urban and data infrastructures such as networks and data, and used remote sensing technology, geographic information technology, and global positioning systems for information collection and monitoring. However, today's new smart cities have multiple levels of demand for infrastructures, such as network bandwidth, coverage, and speed. With the advent of 5G new technologies, countries have also begun to upgrade the construction of communication networks actively, and promote the creation of smart cities through the commercial deployment of 5G.


5G communication network resources play an irreplaceable and vital role in the construction of smart cities. In response to the various challenges in the creation of smart cities, telecom operators need to think about many details in the development of new smart cities in the 5G era. For example, how to provide efficient necessary network facilities and connection services together with partners in the smart city ecosystem, how to jointly undertake the development and construction of smart applications, and how to create an ecological environment to build shared governance.


Image: "5G Empowering Smart City White Paper" compiled by Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry and China Unicom (Deloitte official website)



Realise collaborative intelligence


The competitive advantage of China's 5G industry lies in independent innovation and open cooperation. Especially in the era of economic globalisation, industries in various countries are deeply integrated, and without extensive and close international collaboration, the pace of 5G will not be so rapid. In recent years, from the opening of a 5G wireless network open laboratory by Chinese company Huawei in Seoul, South Korea, to the cooperation between China, Russia, and China and Europe to promote the construction of a new generation of 5G networks, the development of 5G industry will realise collaborative intelligence, share next-generation information technology, and bring the world more surprise:


1. Artificial Intelligence

With the intelligent upgrade of residents' lives, city management and operation and production, a new generation of artificial intelligence technologies, products, services, and solutions are in strong demand. 5G can meet the concurrent access needs of massive smart devices in smart cities, and the interaction between virtual and real machines with millisecond response, promote the application of artificial intelligence in multiple scenarios and truly realize the intelligent connection of all things. The artificial intelligence technology represented by deep learning will be rapidly popularized, promoting the scientific decision-making of city managers and improving the wisdom of public services.


2. The new type of Internet of Things terminal and the Internet of Things

As the infrastructure of a new generation of networks, 5G is the cornerstone of all things connected. The characteristics of the 5G deep connection will further enhance the deployment of intelligent terminals and realize the ubiquitous relationship between people, people, objects, and things. Connect and collect all kinds of data and information in the city utilizing perception and IoT, construct a substantial peripheral nervous system in the city, provide a reliable support for the construction of "digital twin city", and help city managers to be more efficient and Accurately grasp and manage city information.


3. Big data analysis

Data is an essential strategic resource in the future. 5G large-bandwidth, multi-connection enables data collection, data fusion, data modelling, data mining and other significant data analysis processes to extract valuable information from complex and redundant city-data. Smart terminal sensors in smart cities will generate a lot of useful data. Through big data analysis, city managers can be assisted in scientific management and decision-making in a timely and effective manner.


4. Cloud computing

Through cloud computing technology, physically dispersed computing power can be merged to achieve the highest benefit recovery for city data storage and processing at the lowest cost. Cloud computing has the advantages of flexible computing and on-demand billing. Information resources can be coordinated and shared to the greatest extent through the "cloud". The massive bandwidth of 5G will make the amount of data stored in cloud computing larger, the low latency will make the data upload timely, and the higher load capacity will connect more devices to the cloud, promote cloud-side collaboration, and make the business more efficient.


5. Blockchain

5G Internet of Things brings a lot of end-to-end information exchange, mainly the information exchange in large-scale business scenarios has stricter security requirements. The underlying distributed ledger technology of the blockchain is integrated with 5G, which can be applied to information authentication, address, identification and other management, and spectrum resource sharing. It can also change the business model and system architecture of the future network, from information network to value network. Change, to realize the value of network and information assets.



Unleash the potential of the city


On June 6, 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology officially issued 5G commercial licenses to China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Radio and Television, and China officially entered the first year of 5G commercial use. With the construction, deployment and commercial use of 5G networks, making full use of the characteristics of 5G networks to empower vertical industries has become one of the most concerned topics in the development of smart cities.


In 2020, the Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry worked with China Unicom to compile the White Paper on 5G Empowering Smart Cities. This white paper examines the development trend of smart cities in the 5G era, focuses on the typical application scenarios of 5G in transportation, security, environmental protection, governance and other fields, and proposes the main challenges and implementation paths of smart cities in the current 5G era, as well as the consideration of operators in promoting smart city construction in the 5G era.



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