One of the cities where Huawei has adopted these principles to develop a smart city solution is the Royal Commission of Yanbu in Saudi Arabia. A multi-phase approach was adopted, starting with the infrastructure connecting devices from various sub-systems including traffic, surveillance, smart lighting, help points, parking and environmental monitoring, to mention a few. Further phases have concentrated on the digital platform to provide an effective collaborative municipal administration, high-quality public services and generate sustainable economic development. The Yanbu Smart City Project won the prestigious ’Data and Technology Award’ at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2017 in Barcelona.
Why the cloud is central to a successful smart city
Cities have many existing systems per department that cater for their respective services, and these can be migrated in a phased approach to the cloud. The first phase would be upgrading the infrastructure to enable device connectivity and the exchange of information between the government entities. A second phase would be to create a shared digital platform in the form of a hybrid cloud that caters for private and public needs. The benefits of a cloud environment are plentiful, including sharing of information, sharing resources, load balancing, higher availability, cloud computing, single monitoring and maintenance operations, elastic scalability and reduced total cost of operations.
Furthermore, one of the most powerful additions is the ability to improve the quality and productivity of paperless services by introducing automation of processes, and specifically automated services enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI). By adding AI to the ‘Device-Pipe-Cloud-Application’ model at every level, we enable intelligent interaction of devices, intelligent redundant and self healing connectivity, feeding data to an intelligent cloud hub for data processing providing an intelligent twin for a new chapter of smart city evolution.
Cities’ existing systems can be migrated in a phased approach to the cloud
One of the services that Huawei provides on Huawei Cloud Services (HCS) is adapting artificial intelligence capabilities to a customer’s specific requirements, by training the need on the online cloud and then inferencing the adapted algorithm on edge-based neural computing technology. We refer to this as Enterprise Intelligence (EI). There are dozens of pre-trained humanlike engagement application protocol interface (API) algorithms that can be combined to create and train the customer’s specific intelligence routines required in a smart city and for any vertical industry. Some of these APIs include image recognition, optical character recognition, natural language processing, speech to text and vice versa, image search, and video content review. Once trained on customer-provided data, these algorithms are applied for their intended use on site at the required level of the intelligent twin smart city.
One example of how intelligent twin smart cities can be used effectively is in intelligent traffic management. By collecting enough data using various sensors from all main traffic arteries in a city, an intelligent digital twin model of traffic flow is created in near real-time and is then managed to optimise efficiency. This has been successfully implemented in the megacity of Shenzhen in China, reducing average congestion time by 12 per cent and increasing average vehicle speed by six per cent during rush hour, furthermore reducing emergency services travel time to incidents by 40 per cent by creating green channels.
Other examples of how it can be used include automated visual garbage sorting using robots, visual inspection of power transmission lines using drones equipped with cameras, autonomous robots that patrol the city for public safety and municipality visual inspection data collection. All EI implementations are aimed at improving productivity, efficiency, quality and safety of services and should always include an ethical checking process for bias, liability and inequality.
The key to a transformational smart city is to make use of the massive amounts of data available to help the AI-assisted digital platform make informed decisions. By successfully tapping into this data, a city can provide situational awareness, automate and optimise the productivity of repetitive processes, enable forecasting and prediction models, and simulate intelligent digital twin environments for optimal management. The user interface to visualise all this information is the Intelligent Operation Centre (IOC) application using a 3D geographical information system and augmented reality to provide an interactive dashboard of all activity and statistics.