Yinchuan — China’s first smart city
This scribe has visited most of China but this was the first visit to Yinchuan, which came as a pleasant surprise. Located in central North West China, Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Having visited the most advanced cities and provinces to the East and still developing ones in the West, Yinchuan was like a whiff of fresh air. It was expected that being a province where the ethnic minority group Hui reside, it will be a backward place. Seeing is believing and the truth is to the contrary.
Yinchuan has the unique honour of becoming China’s first metropolis to regulate as a ‘Smart City’ on October 1, 2016. The concept was first introduced as “Smart Planet” by IBM in November 2008. Singapore established a ten years’ plan called ‘Smart Country’, which aims to be the first smart country. In 2013, China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development decided to gradually establish 600 smart cities. Yinchuan took the lead in registering as the first ‘Smart City’ in China.
The perception of smart city employs intelligence from data mining, which collects information from the government, corporate sector and individuals, resulting in forming the big data, in order to analyse and export directional results which are utilised by the departments of the city in intelligent management and operation.
The city of Yinchuan takes the whole city as the unit for top-level design, based on three core objectives: governance, life and industry. Following the six major support structure, “the top-level design, business model, management model, full-time supervision, legislation protection and system reform”, Yinchuan mapped out the smart government affairs, smart transportation, smart environmental protection, smart community and other sub-modules to solve the smart city’s problems. The focus has transcended from smart governance to smart life.
The Yinchuan Industrial Park has been designed to meet the specific needs of the Smart City. Facilities are provided to industrialists and investors, with preference to those that support higher ecological standards and contribute to big data
The Smart City concept is regulated and monitored with the help of real time mapping and visual reconnaissance for the monitoring of activities in various buildings, facilities at the Urban Management Command Centre, which gives the appearance of a scene from a space age movie. The concept of a smart city, which till now was a figment of the imagination, is now a reality, utilising information technology and big data. Yinchuan has been transformed into a futuristic city, promoting development pattern, improving economic structure, optimisation and upgrading to a smart city.
Yinchuan closely surrounds four cores of information benefitting the people, scientific management, industry derivation and returns on investment, and generates five characteristics of mode, management mode, technical architecture, system guarantee and local legislation. It has evolved its own unique features in construction of modules in 10 key areas of smart government affairs, smart transportation, smart environmental protection and so on.
Yinchuan Hall of Citizens is an eye opener. Under one roof, all the basic requirements of a citizen are being met with the utmost ease. From travel documents, to identification card to business licenses, at the click of a button, the document is printed, signed and received, saving the citizens’ time, botheration and cutting bureaucratic red tape. It was amazing to observe a flat system of management rather than a tall hierarchy.
The Yinchuan Industrial Park has been designed to meet the specific needs of the Smart City. Facilities are provided to industrialists and investors, with preference to those who support higher ecological standards and contribute to big data. Some industries showcased to this scribe comprised a water purification plant. It is a resolve of the government to ensure water purification systems for the entire community by 2025. Another service is smart medical support, which comprises online medical assistance, affording the facility to contact physicians, who can examine patients online, prescribe medicines and for more serious cases, make appointments for physical examination, diagnosis, admission to medical facilities and even have qualified surgeons fly in from other more renowned medical centers to perform the operation, all at the touch of a button or a phone call away.
Traffic regulation and monitoring of the environment for air, water and noise pollution systems are also being manufactured and distributed at the industrial park. The entire smart city of Yinchuan is equipped with state-of-the-art garbage disposal systems, which are powered by solar energy. These efficient systems are being manufactured at the Industrial park.
Dwelling in the new concept is at smart community centres, where the emphasis is on green city residence, reduction in noise and atmospheric pollution and, supporting the ecological balances rather than disturbing them. Yinchuan has established 500 smart communities, mapped out 11 convenience facilities, with the major beneficiary being the erstwhile impoverished Hui Muslim community.
The net result is a quantum leap in the quality of life of the people focusing on health, education, environment and security with a proactive approach rather than a reactive outlook.
The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on China
Published in Daily Times, September 23rd 2017.