Smart cities, Huawei´s solution for urbanisation

Half of the world´s population has moved into cities due to economic globalisation and urbanisation. Also, according to the UN World Urbanization Prospects Report, the planet will have eight more megacities before 2025 and 6,4 billion urban population in 2050. This urbanisation requires more resources, more complicated city management and more sustainability.

Smart cities, which are based on ICT applications, the internet and cloud computing, can offer good opportunities and, thanks to the administration by digital technologies and information, are the best solution for this present and future problem. Likewise, they are greener, can generate revenues and are cheaper in terms of electricity consumption.

The European Union, like the US and China, has placed the Smart City project into its strategic agenda and are providing support to it. In July, the European Commission launched the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership, which pools resources to support the demonstration of energy, transport and ICTs in urban areas. Likewise, the Horizon 2020 strategy will implement European innovation, including smart cities, to generate growth and jobs from 2013; and several actions already started.

o create a smart city it´s fundamental to have a good network where all services are interconnected. The Chinese company Huawei, is one of the firms that are providing solutions in Europe and other countries to develop these kind of urban areas. In the UK, for example, Huawei is working with the world’s smart meter leader, Landis+Gyr, to build up smart metering and smart grid solutions targeted for commercial launch from mid-2012 onwards.

Smart grid solutions are the answer to the high demand of electricity needed by citizens. The production efficiency, management capability, and service capability of the electric power industry can be improved based on informatisation construction. “The smart grid is a key component in the relation machine-machine, and also machine-human”, Bosco Eduardo Fernández, Head of Huawei´s R&D Centre, told New Europe, adding that with this system citizens can re-use housing energy and also the way they want to re-utilize it. Today, there are some facilities, like IP TV or smart phones, “but they are not coordinated”, he said.

Huawei has provided solutions in different countries around the world, by integrating various applications and aligning with the Internet of Things based on a modular and cloud-based platform, which can reduce 70% of the energy we use now. For instance, the company provided security services, such as traffic security and emergency commands, in China and Pakistan to prevent, among others, terrorist actions.

An Intelligent Traffic Project was launched in the Maldives, which was based in intelligent video surveillance. Within the smart grid solutions provided by Huawei we can also find cloud contact centres, telepresence, remote banking, telehealth, remote court and remote office solutions.

Despite all the benefits that smart grids and smart metering solutions can offer, “Europe has a lack of fiber and is in a worse position” than, for example, China, which has faster capabilities, said Fernández. The Connecting Europe program has a budget of €9,2 billion for broadband and technologies, but “the investment is more aggressive in China”, where €250 billion are intended for ICT, explained Antonio Salvatore Graziano, Huawei´s VP European Public Affairs and Communications in Belgium, to New Europe.

European countries should invest in innovation, but first of all citizens must know how devices can be connected and understand that this change will benefit them in the future. “Without an effective network we cannot invest”, said Graziano, and “governments have to inform on how this will be sold”, added Fernández.

According to Gerard Corcoran, Huawei´s Senior Solution Manager, Europe is “well prepared” for the Smart Grid now it´s working in the frame of the 2020 strategy. The problem is, he explained, that there are regions more advanced than others and more promotion combining Europe, US and China is basic. “To exit the crisis, EU countries need to invest”, he said. “It´s difficult now, but it will generate benefits in the future.”

“This opportunity will take a while, but will generate jobs and revenue. It will be a bigger problem in the future if we don’t invest”, stated Graziano. But each European country has its own agenda and priorities, meaning that the EU “has to push this forward”, said Corcoran.

To mobilise and inform young people about smart cities will be easier, because they “look more to the prices now we are in crisis”, he explained. However, citizens less familiar with new technologies could see this change as a problem and an unsafe system. In this way, Huawei is working to ensure that all their products are secure, stated Graziano, and all markets should do the same, because China only represents 40% of the cybersecurity measures.

The current economic situation has generated new ways to save money and, at the same time, to create growth. Nevertheless, this will only be possible whether all the actors involved collaborate and invest in this “smart future.”


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