China Investing Heavily in Smart City Innovation

Sometimes it seems like change takes a long time. We’ve all heard it before: big ships move slow. And there are probably no “bigger ships” than the two most powerful countries in the world: the US and China. But a May 12 article in the Wall Street Journal - U.S. and Chinese Tech Firms Team Up on Sensor Networks for ‘Smart Cities’ - tells a different story. When it comes to technology, innovation and Smart Cities, things are moving incredibly fast.

It’s no secret that China faces some serious challenges when it comes to air quality and mobility. In fact when I talk with Americans who have visited Shanghai or Beijing, they almost instantly mention the overwhelming levels of pollution and traffic. So suffice to say there is motivation for Chinese authorities to turn to tech for civic solutions. And they are doing this in a big way. According to Navigant Research, China will account for a major share of the $174.4 billion that is slated to be spent on Smart City projects between 2014 and 2023.  

The WSJ article goes on to describe a joint venture between a spinoff from China’s Academy of Sciences and Sensity Systems Inc. Sensity will build upon existing video networks, streaming data from sensors attached to light poles that can detect “temperature, vibration, motion, ambient light and gunshots.” Other potential activities include “lighting control, public Wi-Fi and charging electric vehicles.”

This kind of tech integration seems simple at first glance but is actually an incredibly complex collaboration between government and private sector partners. This is such an interesting space to watch and I can’t wait to see it all first hand when I visit China this fall on the 2016 Zhi Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship.

Photo credit: Johnson Space Center of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Chelsea CollierChina