Yinchuan China's model for a smart city

Source: Digital Journal on July 25, 2017 | Ken Hanly

Yinchuan - China is creating their first smart city not in Shanghai or Beijing but in the relatively small city of Yinchuan in the north of China the capital of Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

As seen on the map at the Wikipedia entry on the city, Yinchuan is in mid-north of China not too far from the Mongolian border:" It has an area of 4,467 km2 (1,725 sq mi) and a total population of 1.99 million. Its built up area is home to 1,290,170 inhabitants spread on three urban districts.[4] The name of the city literally means "silver river".Thanks to the Yellow River, Yinchuan enjoys beautiful natural scenery and favorable conditions for agriculture and has long earned the fame of a "River Side City in the Northwest" and "Home to Fishes and Rice". Yinchuan is now the permanent site for China-Arab Expo which is an international platform for cultural and economic exchanges between China and Arab countries.

The city has now hosted the TM Forum's Smart City InFocus for the last two years. TM Forum describes itself: "As a neutral, non-profit member organization, TM Forum represents over 850 member companies generating US$2 trillion in revenue and serving five billion customers across 180 countries." Yinchuan is to be the blueprint for the development of smart cities across China. Yinchuan is just one of China's 193 smart city projects, Yinchuan is using technology such as facial recognition systems in transport buses, solar-powered waste bins and other innovative employment of technology. Carl Piva, the TM Forum's vice president of strategic programs explained why Yinchuan rather than Beijing or Shanghai was picked out to be the smart city leader: “The problem is these cities are already too big. A blank canvas like Yinchuan can more flexibly adopt new technologies, and then ‘attract people that would otherwise have gone to Beijing or Shanghai.'” Piva said that China is attempting to create a repeatable pattern or blueprint so that it can in effect roll out a smart city. In general, the smart city harnesses advanced technology as a way of life to improve the life of citizens.

The extensive use of technology to collect data about citizens brings up questions of privacy and control of citizens using that technology. As part of its bundle of smart services, Yinchuan is distributing RFID tags. These can track the automobiles and collect information about their movements. So far about 300,000 of 500,000 autos have been tagged. Privacy regulations in Europe would no doubt prevent their use there. However there are ways that the data collected could be made anonymous.

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