On August 16th, the 2022 nihub International Smart City Summit Forum was successfully held.
A number of industrial players gathered to discuss the hot topics and share practical experience, which brought a wonderful collision of ideas. Vivien and Euphie from Tuya Smart (NYSE: TUYA), Dr. James from Origami Frontier, Igor Zhuang from SideChef, and Dr. Yujie Wu from ShadeMe discussed the implementation and challenges of smart city projects from different dimensions and perspectives. They gave practical advices to entrepreneurs who want to enter the Chinese market.
Vivien：Tuya Smart Strategic Partnership Manager
Euphie：Tuya Smart LA&MEA marketing manager
Tuya Smart (NYSE: TUYA) is a leading technology company focused on making our lives smarter. Through its growing commercial SaaS business, Tuya offers intelligent business solutions for a wide range of verticals. Tuya partners with leading Fortune 500 companies from around the world to make things smarter, including Philips, Schneider Electric, Lenovo and many others.
Dr.James Ong：Founder & CEO of Origami Frontier
Origami specializes in strategy and investment advisory services for accelerating business transformation into new ventures leveraging emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Mobile Internet and Blockchain.
Igor Zhuang ：Senior Partnerships & Account Manager of SideChef
SideChef is the champion of nihub International Smart City Acceleration Program Asia batch. It provides technology and content solutions in the IoT intelligent kitchen industry and online grocery space to various partners.
Dr.Yujie Wu：Founder & CEO of Shademe
ShadeMe is the champion of nihub International Smart City Acceleration Program Europe batch. It is a Swiss start-up to deliver smart shading controller and solutions to commercial and residential buildings with glass facades, to save energy (cooling, heating & lighting) in buildings and make daylight comfortable for occupants.
The guests introduced their projects and conducted in-depth discussions on the current achievements and pain points of smart cities. They also expressed a good vision for the operation of the digital city. Here are some excerpts of their opinions:
01 Smart City New Scenarios
Q1:What is the biggest benefit for our society with the development of smart cities? What new scenarios will they bring?
Euphie: It could be talked in 2 perspectives. Firstly, it could improve the efficiency of the work. For companies, they can use high-tech tools to improve their work efficiency and reduce the labor cost, like self-service store. Also the development of smart cities could make end customers’ life become more convenient. For example, they can use just one app to control all the appliances and devices in their home. Smart city also can help governments and companies to do analysis of market and customer behavior to predict the trend more accurately. There’s one word that AI knows people more than themselves.
James: Smart city is not about being smarter intelligence, is not about digital, is not just about technology. The keyword for me is about ecosystem and how to use technology to strike a balance in the ecosystem.
Yujie: From my perspective, the biggest benefit for the smart cities is efficiency which means speed and energy saving. If you look at the ground level, smart cities would mean automation in in our cities. For example, the blinds would be automated to determine the best condition without manual override; in transportation, it’ll select best road that you can go from A to B, etc.
Summary: All the guests mentioned the high efficiency that smart city brought and the importance of building a harmonious ecosystem. We always consider the development of smart cities from the perspective of how to serve the public better, and are committed to provide services in all scenarios, so that everyone in the city can live a smarter life.
02 Which place is the most “smart”?
Q2:What is the best example of smart city projects in the world?
Vivien: Personally I think Singapore should be the top one. I’m in Singapore right now and have been staying here for 3 weeks. I found there are some very impressive interesting projects having been implemented in Singapore, like the HDB smart hub. You can consider the HDB smart hub as a city brain that can manage all estate operations based on all the data in Singapore, and the hub can collect and integrate different sources of information such as the real time data on energy usage, energy consumption from different households in HDB estates, that’s very impressive. [P.S. HDB: Housing Development Board. This government agency is responsible for the planning, construction and management of new residential towns in Singapore. More than 80% of Singaporeans live in houses built by HDB.]
James: Singapore is well-known to be a smart city. I add one more thing to Vivien’s perspective, collecting data is a start. The secret of Singapore being successful Smart City is the top down wisdom and design. The designs mix all work together.
If you ask me intuitively globally, the most successful smart city project is Google map.
Igor: There are 2 types of smart city projects that I personally really like. One is more from a citizen perspective—traffic&parking. For example, there’s an application in Guiyang, it’s like an airbnb for parking lots. I’m in Shanghai spending a lot of time finding a parking spot, and that also creates traffic jam because a lot of cars in city center where are lack of parking space, people have to drive around the city until they find a parking spot.
If you move away a little bit from the city side and touch more on sustainability, I’m very interested in smart farming. 70% of the world’s water consumption goes to agriculture and it might go even up. A lot of places in the world are experiencing water droughts. It’s not just about food production, it’s also about how do we match the production with the demand. It’s about utilizing drones to manage the crop automatically or using big data and sensors to help mitigate exactly water usage, fertilizer usage and much care to produce the food.
Summary: With its highly developed urban system, Singapore has become an important case for smart city. It’s crucial to realize the connection between physical and digital space and apply it to all aspects of civic life.
03 Challenges and Opportunities
Q3:What are the main challenges in infrastructure and application layers?
Vivien: During my discussion with some developers in the IoT industry, I found there are 2 major difficulties they have encountered. First is how to integrate data from different resources. For example, I once visited a smart building, the manager here taught me that they had adopted Philips lighting system, but they have already adopted Schneider’s energy control management system, that’s 2 different systems provided by 2 brains. How to integrate the data from Schneider and Phillips? That’s a big question for them.
From the technology side, it’s a big issue to connect different data, and from commercial side, it’s another big issue. Some users don’t want their data to be collected or reviewed by the manager. How to protect their data?
James: You need to design a balance between nature and urban.
Igor: we have to be cautious and not to be too fast when we are deploying some of these solutions. A well-done smart city is basically a close system, it’s like clockworks. when you introduce an error into it, ramifications can be quite high. I want to give a good example, it’s not that Smart City related——Boeing 737 max. It had two unfortunate crashes. There’s a lot of software and a lot of things that cover it. Later researches revealed that it was a software failure, it simply mixed scenarios that the plane could occur in, it didn’t account for that, and when it happened, plane system made the plane crash. Thus we have to be wary of this.
Yujie: From my point of view, the main challenge is the integration of the infrastructure and technology. How can we embed and apply these technologies with infrastructures to let users in the city to have smart days？
Summary:Data redundancy and data island have become the crux of smart city development. If national standards can be established in terms of some platform interfaces, data calibers, etc., and the friction cost can be reduced, it will be possible to remove these obstacles to data sharing. At the same time, in the process of realizing data co-founding and sharing, how to protect the privacy of users will also become one of the major challenges.
04 Asset or Liability?
Q4:Do you consider data more as an asset or a liability?
Igor: I would locate it as both. It is an asset that we need to work with, but who has access to the asset? Security is very important, it’s all about intention at the end of the day. If the right people use it for the right purpose, data can be very powerful. If it lands in the wrong hands, people obviously have privacy concerns these days all over the world.
Yujie: I agree with Igor’s point of view that the data is just the two sides of the sword. This needs everybody to put wisdom especially the policymakers to check and control.
Summary:The collection of massive data is the foundation of a smart city. However, data breach has become a pain point for governments world wide, tech companies and users. Data protection and how to use it in proper way are long-standing problems and will be continuously discussed.
05 Any opportunity for startups?
Q5:What suggestions would you give to foreign projects that would like to enter the China smart city market?
Euphie: Firstly you should know and understand the Chinese market especially the customer behavior. The second one is that the local regulations and laws. In Chinese market, some smart city projects are invested by the government. Chinese government has concentrated more on the privacy protection. Who would like enter the Chinese market should consider the local policies.
James：I’m working with a platform like nihub. It’s important to find the right entry point. You can build a trust bridge into the china market with the local partner. I want to emphasize the importance of finding somebody who can be the bridge that understand international mindset as well as the China mindset. The trust that you can build up is so crucial.
Summary:Although there are a great many of opportunities in the Chinese market, foreign-funded projects should learn as much as possible about compliance and user behaviors before entering this huge market, and proactively seek local partners to localize as soon as possible.
We appreciate all the point of view to 2022 nihub International Smart City Summit Forum from the guests.
Under “New Infrastructure” plan, smart city projects has received strong support from the Chinese government. Foreign projects should have knowledge of local policies, laws and regulations, conform to industry trend, and adapt mindset here in order to achieve long-term development in China.
The National Industrial Information Security Development Research Center has determined directions of pathway of the smart city development —— “Informazation to Digitization”, “Construction to Operation”, and “People Interaction to IOE”. Wish each excellent project can seize opportunities and scale up in China.
If you are interested in the projects who participate in this summit, please contact us, nihub will help with connection and cooperation. If you are running excellent smart city projects, you are welcome to sign up for the nihub Smart City Accelerator. We’re looking forward more high-quality projects to land in China, and we also wish that more Chinese companies will explore and open up new markets.