Taiyuan has been announced as one of nine pilot cities for China’s Smart City program. The nine were chosen to be the forerunners from a list of 90 cities identified as potential Smart Cities in January this year. In an effort to promote urbanisation and boost the national economy China is looking to transform cities combining government investments, modern infrastructure and information technology to make them more competitive. The first nine cities are expected to finish Smart City construction within about three years before the program is sequentially expanded to the whole country.
Taiyuan’s selection should give considerable impetus to the advancement of Shanxi Province. Almost all of the other successful applicants are from much wealthier and more developed regions, with five being located in provinces ranked in the Top Ten in terms of GDP per capita. Both Xuzhou and Wuxi are in Jiangsu Province which has GDP per head more than twice that of Shanxi Province. It can be expected that accelerated transformative urbanisation will have a proportionately much greater impact in Taiyuan than say Wuxi which already has two massive and well-established high-tech districts.
The Smart City concept, originally proposed by IBM, has been embraced more enthusiastically in China than anywhere else in the world. There seems to be no bound to the government’s ambition to extend it to cities, districts and towns if the nine city pilot experiment is successful.
The Smart City approach is based on technologies such as the Internet of Things and cloud computing applied to transportation, healthcare, public security, environmental protection, etc. It aims to create an innovation network, which optimises the use of technology in the design and operation of infrastructure and buildings in a way that meets the city’s current and future demands. With regard to traffic management it provides access to real-time, detailed information on traffic conditions which can significantly reduce inner-city journey times. In addition, advanced technologies allow operators to respond quickly to emergency situations occurring throughout the road network. In general Smart City implementation provides the tools for analysing data for better decisions, anticipation of problems, and faster resolution thereby driving more sustainable growth and prosperity.
There are already other indications of Taiyuan and Shanxi Province emerging from relative backwardness and transforming economically. Since 2010 the Province has been designated as a Pilot Area to promote the transformation of economic activity in a resource-based region, and this has helped to stimulate greatly increased interaction with other areas and other countries. For example, in the first half of this year traffic at Taiyuan’s Wusu International Airport was up 95 percent year-on-year. Wusu, a national first-class airport, is used by 12 Chinese and foreign airlines, with 15 flights daily to Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, and to foreign countries such as Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia.
Shanxi Province represents a new frontier of opportunity for enterprising and resourceful Australian companies. The Smart City initiative for Taiyuan means that companies at the more advanced end of the technological spectrum may now be inclined to consider locating there.
Bruce Ross Consulting can offer introductions, support and guidance for companies wishing to take advantage of the abundant opportunities in Shanxi Province.