“City Brain” helps boost efficiency in Chinese cities

City Brain, an urban management system based on cutting-edge technologies including cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI), has been introduced into Chinese cities to facilitate innovative practices in such areas as traffic management, environmental protection, and city management, and has proven highly effective.
The City Brain systems, which have so far been adopted by Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Quzhou, and Suzhou, can conduct real-time analysis of the overall situation in any given city, and realize optimized deployment of public resources based on the city’s data resources.
Tongzhou district, the sub-center of Beijing, is the first to introduce City Brain system for the protection of the local ecological environment last month. The system has realized inter-departmental collaboration and improved work efficiency in the management of key issues such as construction site dust, covering of bare land, and dump trucks.
The City Brain system for ecological environment protection features comprehensive connection, intelligent sensing, and a one-stop solution, disclosed an executive of the Tongzhou Bureau of Economy and Information Technology.
According to the executive, intelligentization transformation in Tongzhou District’s 155-square-kilometer core area has helped link the information platforms of various local government departments of Tongzhou with each other, including the commission of urban management, the commission of housing and urban-rural development, and ecological environment bureau.
A total of 1,437 cameras and 1,100 atmospheric sensors for early warning have been connected to the City Brain system, said the executive, adding that the video cameras can finish scanning the entire area within 10 minutes.
Using cutting-edge technologies in the areas of big data and AI, the system can identify such problems as bare land in construction sites, uncovered dump trucks, and leakages from driving vehicles within view of the cameras, around the clock and in any weather, explained the executive.
With no need for extra manpower in the government, a managerial grid model office in the City Brain will receive all cases of environmental problems discovered via the cameras, and then assign relevant departments the tasks of solving the problems, disclosed the executive. He added that the District formulated an innovative procedure that covers the whole process from AI-driven sensing to feedback on the issue, realizing the integration of data and services.
Besides helping with ecological environment protection, City Brains have also played essential roles in traffic management and management of several Chinese cities.
In 2016, Alibaba Cloud, a world-leading cloud computing and AI technology company of Alibaba, cooperated with Hangzhou government to launch the first City Brain project to build an intelligent city hub.
Piloted in Xiaoshan District of Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province, the City Brain system now covers an area of 420 square kilometers, equivalently to 65 times the area of the famous West Lake.
Hangzhou has managed to turn itself from the fifth most congested city in China into the 57th in the list in 2018, reducing the congestion index by 3.5 percent, thanks to the City Brain’s help in regulating and managing more than 1,300 intersections via video-based identification technologies and intelligent algorithms, according to Alibaba Cloud.
In the past, every time a city held large events such as lantern shows, concerts, and sporting events, the city’s public service departments, including the traffic management department and fire department, would have to put in the manpower and materials to ensure city safety and smooth traffic. Now, these conditions have all changed with the City Brain.
During the light show at this year’s Lantern Festival in Quzhou City, Zhejiang Province, the ET City Brain developed by Alibaba Cloud served as a traffic dispatcher for the first time, achieving autonomous regulation and control over the venue with the latest technologies.
There were 12 performances during the light show that night, attracting 78,000 visitors, according to the command center of the Quzhou’s traffic police department, explaining that the ET City Brain handled all the traffic dispatching autonomously and helped improve the traffic efficiency of the area by 40 percent when compared with the previous year.
City Brain systems are playing further roles in many other Chinese cities, helping to improve the work efficiency of various areas, such as air quality monitoring, water quality monitoring, city inspecting, and security monitoring.
“City Brain’s next step will be to continue expanding its influence to more aspects of city management like medical treatment, tourism, and people’s livelihood, to advance smart city construction continuously,” said Zhang.

In 2018, Hangzhou launched its AI visual product “Tianyao”, which uses machines to replace traffic police to patrol and detect traffic violations or accidents in complex road conditions all year round, effectively releasing 200 police officers. (Photo by Xu Kangping from People’s Daily online)

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