Yinchuan, New York, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv together with BT, Virgin, Telefonica, Hitachi, Accenture and many others are bringing Smart Cities into Sharp Focus

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Chinese government upgrades global smart city conference to state-supported event

The TM Forum Smart City InFocus 2016 event, held in Yinchuan, China, from 7 to 9 September, exceeded all expectations. It was the second Smart City InFocus held in the city in partnership with Smart Yinchuan and ZTE, and attracted more than 1,000 delegates. This is an increase of over 300 percent over the inaugural event held last September.

At the event, Smart City InFocus was officially nominated as one of three major, state-level ICT conferences in China and will become an annual fixture. Smart Yinchuan is China’s smart capital city, having been selected as a pilot smart city in 2013. After more than two years of investing in smart city infrastructure and construction, the city has achieved success in 13 areas, including smart government, transportation and environmental protection. TM Forum, Smart Yinchuan and ZTE have also established the Yinchuan Smart City Innovation Center.

Fittingly, the big themes at this year’s event were: how cities can learn from each other to leverage innovation, while reducing risk and cost; the critical importance of citizen centricity; and assessing the maturity of smart city transformations to prioritize investment, among other things.

Participants included C-level executives, government officials, renowned smart city experts and academics, along with 50 upstream and downstream manufacturers. Delegates enjoyed learning from more than 40 speakers drawn from every continent except Antarctica. They included city leaders from New York, Toronto, Dubai, Atlanta, Brisbane, Tel Aviv, Palo Alto, Vancouver, Mississauga, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Tampere, Nice, Bristol, Milton Keynes and the greenfield city Dholera in India.

Relentless focus on citizens
Carl Piva, Chair of the conference and Head of TM Forum's Smart City Forum, commented, “The quality of delegates from over 65 countries and 170 smart cities from around the world has been unparalleled, and the event is the starting point for a closer collaboration between city leaders within the Smart City Forum. Citizen value trumps technology – and this conference has clearly demonstrated why a relentless focus on the citizen is the key to unlock the future of smart city evolution.”

“The Yinchuan Conference was the best I have attended, bringing the well-being, quality of life and happiness of citizens to the forefront of smart cities,” commented Professor Alvaro Oliveira, International Chair of the European Network of Living Labs.

The city as an Innovation Hub
The Smart City API collaboration project, running in the Smart Yinchuan Innovation Center, is a good example of how the joint efforts of the three partners are addressing pressing city issues. ZTE has built a city platform for Smart Yinchuan using TM Forum and FIWARE’s best practices and open APIs. It demonstrates the concept of the economy of data – that is, how to create a secure, transparent environment where public data can be made available and combined with third parties’ data and ideas to create new, innovative services, business models and value for cities, their citizens and businesses.

By creating city platforms, built on sound digital partnering principles, cities can generate financial returns and be open to innovation. “One city is not a marketplace” commented Jarkko Oksala, CIO, Tampere in Finland, which is why his city is taking part in a six cities initiative to create a larger base. Moving from smart cities to smart regions will be the next wave of smart city evolution.

Smart community
Delegates saw Smart Yinchuan in action, through a guided tour of a smart community and City Hall, on the eve of the conference. So far people living in 20 smart residential zones within the city of Yinchuan enjoy services such as smart transportation with electronic bus stops showing the latest travel information, intelligent trash cans, free Wi-Fi and facial recognition to gain access to smart developments. The number of zones is expected to expand to over 100 by the end of this year.

In addition, a new smart health project is designed to bridge the gap between the government and citizens to help solve citizens’ health problems and to speed up treatment through, for example, remote registration and diagnosis. A range of diseases can be treated from first diagnosis to long-term management, substantially reducing waiting time for patients. More services will follow, as illustrated by the new, futuristic gallery in City Hall showing what life could be like for smart citizens of the future.

Unique, but ubiquitous
After the tour, an outdoor banquet was held for all the delegates against a spectacular backdrop of a lake and gardens. In his welcoming speech, Vice Mayor of Smart Yinchuan, Guo Baichun, said, "Smart city provides a solution to many inevitable problems during urbanization. It was designed for the people, it will work for the people and bring benefit to the people."

Dinner guests were treated to a staged selection of local songs and stories in traditional costume – setting the scene perfectly for the two-day conference that followed by underlining the fact that while every city is unique, they all face ubiquitous challenges. Hence the conference put the spotlight on the need to establish a joint foundation for building smarter cities.

Measuring maturity
There was a great deal of interest in TM Forum’s Smart City Maturity and Benchmark Model, with cities such as Atlanta describing how they have used it to assess their current situation and as a tool to develop the city.

“The maturity model is a fantastic way to look at not only where you are at the spectrum…but you can also use it as a tool for collaboration: I am strong in one area, weak in another, so I can collaborate with another city that might be strong in that area in which I am weak,” commented Minerva Tantoco, former CTO of the City of New York.

You can learn more about TM Forum’s Smart City Forum here and contact Carl Piva directly via cpiva@tmforum.org if you’d like to get involved.

About TM Forum
TM Forum is a non-profit global industry association which helps its members transform and succeed in the digital economy. The collective experience and interests of our member community comprised of tens-of-thousands of professionals within 900+ market-leading global enterprises, service providers and technology suppliers drives everything we do, from thought-provoking research and publications, to practical guidance, collaboration programs, tools and best practices, hands-on events, and training for business and IT leaders.

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Julia Lopez

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