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Deloitte China and China Unicom explore new ways to craft smart cities with 5G 

5G Smart Cities Whitepaper analyzes current challenges and how next-generation networks shape new smart living

Published: 26 March 2020

Deloitte China and China Unicom today released the 5G Smart Cities Whitepaper, which explores smart city development trends in the 5G era, with a focus on typical application scenarios in transportation, safety and security, environmental protection and governance, among other areas. The Whitepaper also sets out the major challenges and implementation approaches to 5G smart cities to facilitate their creation across China.      

"Smart city development is a new approach to urban development across the world. The development of smart cities, however, has been hindered by issues including the large number of smart application segments, huge variations in the level of industrial development and resources from region to region, unclear business models, a lack of consistent standards in the use of technology, and serious data fragmentation," says Deloitte China Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Leader Taylor Lam. "In view of this, China has proposed the notion of 'new smart cities', which will require deep integration of urban development needs with next-generation information and communications technology (ICT) applications to realize end-to-end urban interconnectivity, promoting precise urban operations management."              

The Whitepaper points out that China has significantly accelerated its smart city construction efforts in recent years, with smart government among the most mature scenarios. Underpinned by supportive policies, government departments have gradually achieved data-driven operations, with streamlined work processes, to bring convenience to the public. Smart transportation is another area of substantial progress. Based on technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud computing, smart transportation helps improve efficiency, reducing traffic accidents and ensuring safety.

5G technology lies at the heart of smart city development. China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute President Zhang Yong explains: "To enable various smart city application scenarios, terminal data collection, data transmission via communication networks, as well as data storage and computing, are vital. Communications networks link data collection and processing. 5G, the latest communications technology featuring ultra-high speed, massive connectivity and super low latency, will have a huge impact on smart city development. 5G-based ubiquitous sensor networks can connect everything in a smart city and promote integrated development of humans, machines, and things. Through in-depth integration with next-generation information technologies including AI, big data analysis, network slicing, edge computing and IoT, 5G will also empower city management, businesses, people's livelihood, and beyond, helping smart city application scenarios realize greater potential."

In daily life, the Whitepaper concludes, 5G networks enhance road safety and management efficiency, ensuring urban security at all levels, as well as enable environmental protection monitoring and drive equitable, accessible and inclusive health care reform, while also helping governments address major emergencies. However, Deloitte China 5G Next Generation Application Academy Secretary General and Financial Advisory Partner Pu Qinglu notes: "Because of 5G smart city construction's challenges, governments should lead scenario implementation through top level design tailored to local needs, placing Smart City Micro Units in buildings, communities and districts for intelligent management and services. They can also establish innovative models that engage social capital and enterprises to relieve financial pressure in smart city construction. To break down information silos, smart city operators need to overcome technological and organizational barriers, achieving integrated smart city operations with interconnected data, information and resources."

Telecommunications operators play an irreplaceable role in building smart city infrastructure through key 5G communication networks and differentiated big data and cloud computing services. China Unicom Smart City Research Institute President Zhu Changbo adds: "In the 5G era, telecommunications operators are infrastructure builders, solutions providers and platform operators, with huge opportunities to create innovative business models. Given the challenges in smart city construction, telecommunications operators should think about how to provide high-efficiency network infrastructure and connection services, while working with ecosystem partners to develop smart applications based on collaboration, participation and common interests."


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