Speaking at CommunicAsia 2015 in Singapore, Huawei says smart cities don’t have flying cars, holographic communications screens or teleportation technology from the far off future yet, but they can and are being built today thanks to our hyper-connected world the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution.
The four key areas Huawei sees this happening are 1) city planning, 2) management with sustainability, 3) enabling comms for knowledge transfer and 4) efficiency for businesses.
When it comes to city planning and management with sustainability, Huawei references the UN’s Environment Program which points to the Asia Pacific region accounting for nearly half of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The company says that ’one of the key areas that the United Nations Environment Programme focuses on is the role of technology in adapting to climate change whilst tackling the issue.’
We are then told that ‘environmental and economic reasons are key push factors pointing to why non-renewable fuel sources are becoming less viable as options for powering everyday lives – particularly in the area of transportation.’
The problem is that almost all the energy sourced to power our modes of transportation is non-renewable.
And although environmental and climate woes are said to threaten, which is bad enough, security of energy supply is another area of concern as cities develop, driving the shift to smarter transportation alternatives.
So, where does Huawei see some solutions?
As part of building a Smart City, Huawei says it sees Smart Transportation categorised into the following: better utilisation of existing infrastructure, vehicle reduction and changing the mix of vehicles.
Huawei points to its innovative solutions such as smart sensors that are capable of constantly measuring and optimising vehicle resources to lower current vehicle carbon emissions leading to lower carbon emissions and extending vehicle lifespan and smart traffic diversion which reduce wear and tear of roads.
Reducing the number of vehicles on our roads involves encouraging commuters onto smarter public transport. Huawei then says the introduction of electric cars and bio-fuel vehicles leverage sustainable energy resources, making active transport modes safer and more accessible.
Nowhere here has Huawei mentioned autonomous vehicles, something we know Google, various car companies and others are working on, or the R&D companies such as Uber are putting into a driverless fleet, but even if the fleet were fully automated, smart technology monitor it all and making whatever changes it can to create efficiencies and minimise environmental impacts will clearly be a key part of the program.
At this point, I bring Huawei’s own words back into the equation, with its Regional Chief Information Office, Barry Lerner PE of Huawei’s Solutions Marketing Southern Pacific Region, who said: “Huawei has globally committed to strengthening our energy management and smarter city initiatives. In the transportation sector, Huawei has worked closely with both public and private sector partners in developing innovative solutions that address environmental and climate change issues.
“Achieving sustainable change in this space isn't trivial but Huawei's diverse portfolio of technology and business solutions are well positioned to help realize greener, smarter transport options.”
Before we get to the next section, here’s Huawei’s video entitled ’Huawei Smart Cities Solution Best Practices”.
Third and fourth in Huawei’s key areas are enabling communications for knowledge transfer and efficiency for businesses.
Here Huawei says that ‘knowledge and skills transfer is a priority for most businesses, and often encouraged by governments around the world, including Singapore.
‘Businesses need to be equipped with infrastructures and applications to support knowledge and information transfer – this is where technology and innovation play an important role in enabling education in particular. For students, whether the young or working professionals furthering their studies, hyper-connectedness driven by high mobile penetration has changed how education is being consumed.
‘In the past, the majority of students would most likely enter University after High School and attend the campus in person. Now, many students are mature in age, others attend lectures remotely and still others access online content which the university has made available.
‘Huawei sees digital technology as a key driver of change providing the education sector the competitive edge. To help create a more connected world, Huawei provides a range of solutions that speak to content access (with E-Course), to enabling students with physical and virtual classroom presences (with E-Class) and ease in management of resources and lecture materials (with E-Management).’
Huawei’s Lerner PE added: “Asia is constantly growing, with increasingly diverse cultures, and Singapore is in a unique position to be the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) provider of Asia.
“Huawei believes that Singapore can also utilise digital technology to bring education to Smart End Devices within a MOOC, taking advantage of new innovative IoT devices such as wearable devices, smart glasses, smart tablets, and more, to take knowledge consumption to the next level.”
So, what about Smarter Home Living enabling consumers’ digital lives - even more so, presumably, than modern connected but generally not yet smart fully home-aware technology is already doing so today?
Huawei says that ‘Consumers' lives are becoming increasingly digitised, bringing future families the opportunity to realising the concept of automated smart homes that protects, educates, entertains while ensuring the use of utilities are environmentally friendly.
‘As part of Huawei's work in building a better connected world, they have developed a range of products which seek to address key components of a holistic Smart Home and families' digital life that enables connectivity with high-speed fibre optic broadband to support HD TVs, and a tool to manage multiple devices with the Smart Home Controller.’
Huawei’s Lerner PE said: “Huawei is at the forefront of the provision of innovative solutions which enable families to improve their digital life. As part of our work in building a better connected world we have developed a range of products which seek to address key components of an holistic Smart Home and family digital life.
"As part of enhancing each family's digital life, there is a move to automate the smart home and Huawei is heavily involved in this process as well. We understand that no one vendor has all the solutions so Huawei is taking an open and collaborative approach to enable an IOT ecosystem which will provide the greatest benefit for consumers of this technology," concluded Lerner PE.
Huawei doesn't mention it, but Gartner said back in March 2015 that smart cities will use 1.1 billion connected things in 2015 alone, ricing to 9.7 billion by 2020, and that in 2015, the 'smart home catorgy' lead the IoT race with 294 million of those connected devices.
The list in order is ‘Healthcare, Public Services, Smart Commercial Buildings, Smart Homes, Transport, Utilities and Others.