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California, China search for even smarter smart cities

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-11-15 23:21

With increasing business and technology collaboration between China and California, energy experts and business and political leaders from both sides gathered Wednesday in San Francisco to explore solutions to make cities smarter.

At a forum hosted by the Bay Area Council, they also shared their best practices and called for more collaboration between China and California in smart city development.

"China inspired us in what we are doing, and we inspired China on green buildings and green energy. We are deeply committed to solving global warming issues. Partnership with China is the best way to do it," said Jeff Heller, president and founder of Heller Manus Architects.

The San Francisco-based architecture firm has developed a major presence in China in recent years by building such landmarks as the Eastern Harbor International Tower in Shanghai and Guangzhou International Fashion Center.

"China is more aggressive than anybody in developing smart cities. We see the three main drivers in the ecosystem, which are intellectual capital, emotional capital and financial capital," said Dana Magenau, managing director of UC Berkeley executive education.

By emotional capital, Magenau said he means desire — "the origin of success".

"The fact that people want to be here, in this ecosystem, is important. I think China does a wonderful job," he said. His program brings Chinese executives and city officials to Berkeley for short workshops.

"It's critically important for the success of each country that we find smarter and smarter ways to live in larger urban areas and try to make sure things are connected as well as we can, and resource uses are as efficient and effective as possible," said Manoj Kashyap, a San Francisco-based partner at PwC.

"The business opportunities are huge and available for all of us to participate in," said Kashyap, who leads a global FinTech initiative at PwC.

The market is worth trillions of dollars globally for smart city development, such as smart buildings, smart healthcare, smart security and smart governments and education, according to Kashyap.

He also pointed out some critical challenges for smart cities, including developing the right level of governance and the right business model, as well as efficient execution of the plan.

Despite a lot of efforts and initiatives, Kashyap said the concept of a smart city is still a "nascent space" and a "work in process".

"There's no clear path to solve all the problems. Every situation is a little bit different," he said. "But over time we do expect to see some standards start to materialize as governments continue to work together and try to find the right way forward."

During the forum, a delegation of officials from China's Sichuan province introduced a smart city project in the province as part of its efforts to promote China-US innovative collaboration.

The Meishan California Smart Town, a 900-acre development set to break ground in Meishan city on Dec 12, is a key project of Sichuan in partnership with California.

"It represents the core of what a smart city must possess in order to truly be described as smart — the ability to learn from experience," said Jeffrey Chang, president of the project.

Contact the writer at liazhu@chinadailyusa.com

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