Following-up on our latest blog entry about the TM Forum Smart City InFocus conference, this post is going to focus on the host city of the event: Yinchuan. Yinchuan is a city in the northwest of China with a population of about 2 million people, which has been selected as a pilot city to become a “smart city.” This is the result of a national plan for building new cities to give response to China’s rapid urbanization rate and the Chinese cities’ willingness and aspirations to become among the smartest in the world.
As the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and the former capital of the Western Xia Empire of the Tanguts, Yinchuan is a political, economic and cultural center in the Ningxia Province. The city is a multi-national metropolis with many ethnic groups including Hui, a Chinese ethnic minority predominantly of Muslim faith, Han, Manchu, Mongolian and Chaoxian peoples, among many others.
Today, the city is undergoing an ambitious renovation. In 2013 Yinchuan was selected as a pilot smart city in China, with the aim to transform the city into “Smart Yinchuan.” The Smart project, led by the Yinchuan government and ZTE Corporation – which signed an agreement in 2014 to invest $500 million on smart city initiatives in Yinchuan -, has achieved success in many diverse areas after little more than two years.
Smart Yinchuan is designed to integrate different smart city applications and innovative digital technologies, including smart traffic management, big data, a more interactive and responsive city administration and e-government, optimized garbage collection, affordable housing, telemedicine services, smart environmental protection, advanced public security, among others. For instance, while walking on the streets of Yinchuan, you can see highways and streets full of Cameras and RFID readers for public safety and data collection.
During the event, the organizers took us, the delegates, to a city tour of “Smart Yinchuan.” The tour included a visit to the Yinchuan Citizens Hall – with its administrative system reform for Smart Government -, the City Operations Command Center, and to a Smart Community.
In the Smart Community people can benefit from smart services, such as face-recognition access control systems, electronic bus stop boards, free community WiFi, treated drinking water utilities, intelligent trash cans, and daily physical examination rooms. There are plans to expand these smart residential zones in the following year.
By far, what caught my attention was that many of the residential building complexes, offices buildings and Government buildings in the new part of the city seemed to be pretty empty. The old town looked crowed, but the new city looked half empty.
However, taking into account that China’s urbanization rate continues to rise at an unprecedented speed – the country’s urbanization rate is expected to reach about 60 percent by 2020, which means some 100 million people moving from the countryside to cities over the next years -, it looks like city developers in Yinchuan have planned a city for a much higher population than the current one, establishing the bases and infrastructures ready for those people to move in.
Have you ever visited Yinchuan? Tell us about your experience!