07 May 2018
China has embarked on a program to create 500 smart cities, using cloud technology and artificial intelligence to help communities manage everything from highway traffic to waste collection.
After decades of urbanisation, the nation is exploring how to use connected technologies to enhance cities, improve infrastructure and bring people together in places offering greater ease of living.
Under the program, China will become a major driver of growth in the global technology sector and is expected to be the world’s largest investor in the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in 2018.
Allen Chang, Macquarie Group Head of Greater China Technology and Telecom, says embracing this technology will enable China to create more sustainable and comfortable cities and expand its economy.
“The broad goal is to enhance China’s competitiveness on a global stage and boost economic growth,” Chang says.
“Through smart cities, China is seeking to build digital and intelligent infrastructure that make communities safer and more convenient, and cities more efficient.”
According to Macquarie research, global spending on IoT technologies is set to surpass $US1.1 trillion in 2021, up from $US674 billion in 2017.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is targeting a doubling in China’s IoT market from $US114 billion in 2015 to $US227 billion in 2020.
Chang says the rapid increase in investment in connected technologies will make China a global leader in the IoT sector.
The technologies the country is rolling out to its cities cover multiple facets of daily life.
They include the use of artificial intelligence technologies to assist customers in unmanned retail stores, smart transport systems that can deliver drivers live video feeds of road networks, and smart street lights which use sensors to save energy or adjust their brightness when objects are close by.
“From here it’s possible to imagine cities in which all things are connected and automated,” Chang says.
“The possibilities range from autonomous driving and connected cars, to drones that can carry cargo or people, to service robots that will be able to greet and guide people in hospitals, shopping malls, airports and train stations.”
Chang says China’s investment will bring people and cities closer together and boost productivity in sectors as diverse as transport, education, healthcare and energy.
“This is about sustainable urbanisation and city development,” he says.
“Better infrastructure and better connectivity can enhance connections between people."