Local governments in China are scrabbling to upgrade to smart cities, and Chinese tech titans like telecoms firm ZTE, e-commerce giant Alibaba and internet service portal Tencent aim to cash in on this US$16 billion business.
Scholars introduced the concept of smart cities over a decade ago. Although lacking a standardised definition, they use integrated information technology systems to make life more convenient for residents.
Moving into this area is a logical next step for these growing Chinese companies, which have already left their footprint in smartphones, mobile payment services and other internet- and mobile -related sectors.
Were talking about a 100 billion yuan [US$16.11 billion] business, said Pang Shengqing, head of ZTEs enterprise business, at the firms global analyst conference in Shanghai on Monday.
ZTE, one of the largest worlds largest telecom equipment makers, recently expanded into the smart car business by providing wireless charging solutions for electric cars.
It also announced this week that it shipped 26 million smartphones in the first half of 2015, and will launch a "secret product" developed by former Blackberry staffers that it claims could change the landscape of the global smartphone business.
According to Dr Zhao Xianming, ZTEs chief technology officer, the company has already signed up over 100 Chinese cities to launch smart city projects.
The concept has gained ground in China as the government faces an economic slowdown after decades of unchecked growth.
It is a part of the internet plus programme that Premier Li Keqiang has made a centrepiece of his economic policy, and Beijing and Shanghai are among the biggest Chinese cities clamouring to jump on the bandwagon.
The smart city concept covers everything, big and small, said Pang.
It could be about how to make your citys traffic lights smarter, and how to get them connected with the internet, he said.
It could also be about big things such as how to connect the citys medical services, education services and so on to the internet, and create a centralised system to manage local residents files and information.
Source: South China Morning Post
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12 December 2017