China has taken the lead in the race to smarten up cities through digital and infrastructural advancements. As of 2017, more than 500 pilot smart city projects had been set up within various provinces of the economic giant – an investment estimated to be enhanced by 49 percent between the years 2018 and 2023. Cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are leading examples of the smart city venture and are, in fact, pushing the pace of smart city construction throughout the rest of the country.
Of all the intelligent city technologies being developed and invested in, in China, forecasts for 2023 showed 44.5 percent of the usage or application scenarios as being constituted by fixed smart video surveillance technology, the smart Grid, the Internet of Things (IoT) backend system and the smart transport system. The Chinese economy has notably invested the most in smart video surveillance as well as the IoT which is an interconnected system of devices that allows for data exchange via the internet. With more and more households phasing into a lifestyle eased by technology, China’s Smart Home market has been booming. Smart Homes are home setups that allow the lighting, heating and other home appliances to be controlled remotely using a smartphone or a networked device. The market size estimate of Smart Homes figured around 400 billion yuan for the year 2018 and is expected to further expand by 2020. China’s target for the year 2023 is to set up roughly about 100 million Smart Homes complete with various Smart appliances such as smart TVs - which have been in popular demand - smart washing machines, smart refrigerators and smart air conditioners. The past few years have also seen an upward trend in the adoption of a smart transportation system in China to which shared mobility has been integral. The global tech company, Didi Chuxing, has as good as monopolized the mobility especially in terms of the ride-hailing business. The car-hailing segment of the shared mobility market grossed a market value of 212 billion yuan as of 2017. However, the need to improve walkability and pedestrian safety has also been emphasized to enhance efficient mobility. Planning strategies also focus on increasing the rail and underground transport links alongside higher investment in electric vehicles and their infrastructure.
The benefits of smart city technologies are plenty, with access to cleaner air and water, reduced wastage of resources and pollution, a healthier population and growing economy being a few on the list that China’s population hopes for. Citizens’ awareness of smart city technology solutions reflect a positive trend as per records in 2018 with more people availing online and digital services to pay bills, manage taxes and use other public utilities.