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China leading global race for development of smart cities

China is leading the global race in the development of smart cities with the world’s second-largest economy now having over 500 smart city projects either ready or under construction.

China’s progressive leadership wants the country to become an intelligent data-driven society - and has supported that vision up by commencing upon the highest number of smart city pilot projects on a global scale.

According to a comprehensive report conducted by global consulting behemoth Deloitte, China’s smart city programs now account for almost half of the world’s total. The report said that the number of projects underway in China is significantly higher than that of second-placed Europe, which has about 90 such projects either already underway, or in the pipeline.

"Europe and the United States are leading the world in terms of urbanization, thanks to their first mover advantages. While in Asia, specifically in China, the government has been promoting its urbanization strategy for years, which helps the country achieve the highest urbanization growth rate globally and a vast space for development in the future," Deloitte said.

The smart city concept was invented after rapid urbanization created a whole series of complex problems and challenges in areas such as transportation, water conservation, communication, waste disposal and pollution.

In order to deal with such problems in an effective and cost efficient way, governments worldwide have tasked officials with the responsibility to overhaul how a city is managed by leveraging the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data and cloud computing, the newspaper said.

They hope to help the flow of traffic, improve law enforcement, better utilize resources and make public buildings more energy-efficient by partnering companies to build smart networks in cities that can process big data in real time.

Ma Jionglin, a senior partner at Deloitte, said: "China is one of the most active countries in the world in building smart cities. With the advancement of urban management and the increasing emphasis on people's living and working styles, smart cities will enter a new stage of development."

Already, China has included the smart city initiative in its national strategy and made significant investments in these projects. Both first-tier cities and small- and medium-sized cities are home to smart city projects and they have formed many smart city clusters across the eastern and southern coastal areas of China.