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China Mobile jumps on digital bandwagon

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-02 09:34

Visitors look at screens displaying big data services in transportation, tourism, security and information sharing at the China Mobile stand during a software expo in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, on Sept 1, 2018. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China Mobile Communications Group Co Ltd, the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, is ratcheting up efforts to tap into opportunities brought by the trend of building smart cities around the country.

The Beijing-based company has inked a deal with Nokia Corp to strengthen cooperation in smart cities, smart transportation, video intelligence analysis and next-generation networks.

Under the agreement, the two sides will build a unified smart city application platform to promote the application of new technologies.

They will also make joint efforts to offer one-package solutions for smart transportation, so as to reduce traffic congestion and improve the use of public resources.

Chen Lei, who is in charge of smart city businesses at China Mobile's Beijing branch, said the company has developed several innovative solutions to help governments to build efficient and intelligent cities.

The company, for instance, has leveraged its big data resources and prowess in data analysis to help Beijing to improve its monitoring of the flow of people.

It also offered real-time tracking of visitors flooding tourist attractions, to provide better services and avoid overcrowding.

Such efforts are just a sample of China Mobile's push to offer systematic solutions to improve city management. So far, it has already partnered with more than 300 cities in building such pilot projects.

Lin Shaofu, vice-president of the Beijing Smart City Research Institute, said the use of digital technologies to improve public management is at the core of smart city projects.

"Big data allows governments to change their approach, from extensive pre-approval investigation to after-approval oversight, helping boost transparent management and precise supervision," Lin said.

According to Lin, despite mounting enthusiasm for building smart cities, the decision-making process is very long and the investment is very large for local governments.

Currently, companies mainly focus on how to optimize their strengths like technologies, in order to find a role in the construction of smart cities. But what is really needed is a strong capability to integrate different sources to function as a well-coordinated platform, he said.

That is exactly what China Mobile is trying to accomplish. As technologies related to the internet of things will be fully applied in smart cities, China Mobile said it aims to build a platform that will enable 5 billion connections by 2020, which will likely generate an estimated 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) in annual revenue.

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