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China gears up for a smarter future

Qiu Quanlin in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Updated: Nov 20,2014 9:24 AM     China Daily

China’s move to promote the development of smart cities has opened up a huge market for the country’s high-tech enterprises, and forced many to rethink their business plans.

“The construction of smart cities involves not only government authorities, but also various types of enterprises that are now helping provide high-tech solutions for their future development,” said Du Ping, chief executive and president of the State Information Center.

Du said that city governments have been urged to introduce services from the third parties during the construction of smart city facilities.

“A growing number of major information technology companies have become involved in providing solutions for urban management.”

According to the International Data Group, China’s investment in smart city construction will reach 2 trillion yuan ($326.7 billion) over the next decade. Around 300 cities have been involved in pilot programs so far, said Du.

The State Council together with several ministerial-level departments, issued a series of guidances in August to boost development of smart cities amid the country’s ongoing drive for urbanization, meaning a rich vein of opportunities for high-tech companies, including traditional hardware product makers such as global information technology giant, Lenovo Group Ltd.

Tong Fuyao, vice-president of Lenovo, which claims around 20 percent of the world’s PC market share, said its future growth is inextricably linked to big data service and Internet solutions, which play an integral role in smart city construction.

“Mobile and enterprise businesses have become our new growth engines and over time, like PCs, they will become our profit pool as well,” said Tong.

Lenovo has built up various leading global businesses, he said, based on mobile and enterprise devices which had laid the groundwork for it to rapidly accelerate its ecosystem and cloud service business.

Strong evidence of the shift toward smart cities can be seen at the ongoing China High-Tech Fair, the largest technology show in China which opened on Nov 16 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

Lenovo is displaying a series of smart solutions and services, targeting government, medical treatment, education, finance, public transportation, enterprises and television and communication.

This year’s event, which runs until Nov 21, has attracted more than 100 government and business delegations and about 3,000 exhibitors from 50 countries and regions.

It even has a dedicated “smart city pavilion” where domestic and overseas companies are displaying their latest solutions and services aimed specifically at smart city development.

Enterprise, mobile and cloud service businesses, key elements in smart city construction, made up 15 percent of Lenovo’s total revenue in the first two quarters, up from 4 percent three years ago. Its enterprise business, which saw the launch of a new lineup of next generation ThinkServer products in September, grew rapidly with a 35 percent year-on-year increase, according to Tong.

ZTE Corp, one of China’s major listed telecommunications equipment and network solution providers, is also focused squarely on developing smart solutions.

“We are building a big data platform which allows partners, including government agencies and enterprises, to share and develop smart solutions,” according to Xu Ming, its vice-president.

Smart solutions will help better tackle the most pressing problems including air pollution and traffic jams, Xu said.

ZTE has developed a series of solutions for smart city development and has already been working with local governments to develop future facilities.

Last week, the Shenzhen-based company signed a cooperation agreement on the construction of an intelligent industrial park in the Nantong Economic and Technological Development Area in Jiangsu province.

Xu said that based on smart city construction, the project will create a string of sites featuring industrial clusters, smart applications, data processing backstage services and 4G network research and development.

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