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April 25, 2014
Innovation Workshop Accelerates the Intelligent City Progress
By: Bo Fu

In 2011, the urban population overtook the rural population in China, with the urban population estimated to reach 60 percent by 2020[1]. Accenture’s Intelligent City strategy has drawn considerable attention in the Chinese region to help resolve the challenges of this urbanization trend.

Accenture Technology Lab Beijing recently invited the Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research & Transformation (SMART) team from Michigan University, representatives from the Embassy of Switzerland and the Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation to an innovation workshop to exchange ideas on intelligent city topics.

During the workshop, the SMART team introduced the Mobi Platform for gathering new ideas, and Swiss embassy representative Dr. Bai shared lessons learned from a bilateral pilot program (China and Swaziland) for three cities in China.

More importantly, some thoughts were generated after this innovation workshop.

  1. Intelligent City Framework. Intelligent city pilot trials can be widely seen in the developed countries in various sectors: building, government, security, transportation and high tech. However, the word “intelligent” is still conceptual for many city mayors in China despite the fact that the central government started promoting the building of an intelligent city a few years ago. Considering a detailed framework with approaches and stakeholders would be necessary in this early stage. Perhaps global consulting firms are in the good position to refine their pilot experiences across the world.

  2. Transportation/Mobility. Given the urbanization trend for the next decade in China, the challenge is whether the current transportation infrastructures will be able to ensure the future generations have access to adequate mobility resources to meet their needs while maintaining the health, integrity and resilience of supporting environmental and social systems. Perhaps the management approach is more underdeveloped than the construction of new roads.

  3. Green Building. Technologies such as photovoltaic or geothermal are mature enough to be commercialized. We have seen venture capital companies that are eager to make investments on high-tech green building technologies. However, leveraging technologies with a tailored solution is the key approach for commercialization. Incentives that help to improve cost effectiveness are more favorable to investors, especially the ones where people benefit from initiatives that encourage the green building program.

China’s political engagement has a philosophy of ensuring steady development. Indeed, implementing after closely examining pilot examples is a general approach for decision making. Global experiences, international connections and innovative solutions will definitely accelerate intelligent city development in China.

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