Shenzhen is a pretty smart city already. Its public transport fleet is electric. It has AI surveillance systems to catch jaywalkers and speeders. It is home to Tencent and Huawei Technologies, and hundreds of other leading technology companies. But, like the kid with the pushy parents who sits near the front of class, Shenzhen is always looking for ways to get smarter. Which is why the city government this week launched an initiative to drag some of its leading state-owned enterprises into the digital era.
The initiative is being run by the Smart Cities Science and Technology Development Group Co., Ltd. And yes, it is a state-owned enterprise, fully funded by the city’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
There is a lot of work to do. Despite Shenzhen’s image as a city driven by the private sector, SOEs currently provide the backbone of the city’s public services: 70% of public transportation, 100% of the pipeline gas supply, 99% of the water supply and sewage treatment (in the urban area), one-third of household waste incineration power generation, 60% of highway services, 66% of grain reserves and 99% of fruit and vegetable trades. (Yes, we think that last one seems ripe for privatization, too.)
“As the main force of the city’s infrastructure and public services provider, state-owned enterprises are crucial to the city’s development,” said Yu Xiquan, chairman of Smart Cities. “Our goal is to combine these individual operation systems into one smart platform.”
The group will focus on building smart exhibitions with better user experiences through data analysis; providing real estate intelligent services by integrating property valuation and general enquiry; improving the “i-Shenzhen” application by integrating various public and livelihood online services, such as social housing, public transportation, and cultural venues into one platform.
Currently, Smart Cities has three wholly-owned subsidiaries. These are aimed at: 1) Developing capabilities in cloud computing, big data and Internet of Things, which will be run out of large data centers for state-owned assets and enterprises; 2) Exploring application scenarios for smart city projects; and 3) Making good use of emerging technologies based on the city’s new 5G communication platform.
Mai Zhenxin, deputy secretary of the city’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said Shenzhen is pushing forward a model for its development that will set new benchmarks for cities nationwide, and that 5G provides the opportunity to do this.
Shenzhen claims to lead the country in 5G deployment, with around 2,000 base stations already built, and 8,500 expected before the end of the year. Over the next three years, 45,000 base stations will be built –24,000 “macro” and 21,000 “micro” – with an average distance between them of just 200 meters.
At the opening ceremony, the group also signed strategic cooperation agreements with Shenzhen Investment Holdings, Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Construction and Development Group, CITIC Bank Shenzhen Branch and Ningbo Bank Shenzhen Branch to share resources and foster cooperation in building Shenzhen as a smart city.