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How Intelligent Twins are transforming cities

Explore the new smart, reference architecture that will changes cities forever.

By Liu Huafang, Technology KOL

At HUAWEI CONNECT 2020, Huawei unveiled the Intelligent Twins, a reference architecture for governments and enterprises to deploy intelligence. On September 24, Shenzhen City and Huawei announced the joint development of the Shenzhen Intelligent Twin. Building a city-level integrated intelligent collaboration system with deep learning capabilities will allow the city to perceive, think, evolve, and be more livable, and position Shenzhen will become a benchmark city for the digital economy. And five days later on September 29, 2020, Chengdu High-tech Industrial Development Zone and Huawei inked an agreement to develop the Chengdu Intelligent Twin – an integrated city Intelligent Twins solution comprising one center and three platforms – following the deployment of the AI big data center in Chengdu. 

Chengdu Intelligent Twins: One center and three platforms

The White Paper on the Development of China's Digital Economy (2020) published by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) reveals that China's digital economy was worth 35.8 trillion yuan in 2019, accounting for 36.2 percent of the country's GDP.

The reference architecture for Intelligent Twins has a completely open ecosystem – one that doesn’t involve tearing down and reinventing existing smart city projects, as opposed to an “intelligent upgrade”. It leverages Huawei's synergistic advantages in 5G, cloud, AI, and computing to build a digital foundation and smart hub for smart cities and urban governance.

The Chengdu Intelligent Twins has a clear strategy behind it: deploying an AI-powered big data center in Chengdu and then build the integrated city Intelligent Twins comprising one center and three platforms.

The one center refers to the National Integrated Big Data Center. A key function of the center is scientific research and innovation leveraging Chengdu's economic, political, and technological status in West China.

The three platforms are the city brain, world-leading exascale AI computing platform, and a global research and innovation platform for intelligent data storage and machine vision.

City brain platform: supports the needs of smart cities, industry scenarios, and campuses, prioritizing industries such as transportation, public security, healthcare, government, emergency response, education, environmental protection, and the Internet. 

World-leading exascale AI computing power platform: includes an inclusive AI sub-platform and a dedicated research and innovation sub-platform. The inclusive AI sub-platform will serve a diverse range of industries and enhance the capabilities of AI companies and industries. The dedicated sub-platform for research and innovation will support the strategic demands of the Chengdu AI Pilot Zone. Powered by Huawei's AI computing cluster Atlas 900, the exascale AI computing power platform will power production, learning, research, and application capabilities in research institutes. It will enable them to conduct cutting-edge research and innovation using AI, and support strategic scientific research in key national and regional industries.

Global research and innovation platform for intelligent data storage and machine vision: leverages Huawei's industry experience in global data storage and the machine vision industry, coupled with its local big data management and intelligent research and innovation experience and capabilities. The platform will help accelerate the development of Chengdu's digital industry.

To date, Sichuan Rural Credit Union, the West China Second University Hospital of Sichuan University (WCSUH-SCU), and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport have all partnered with Huawei to help them drive service transformation and build smart capabilities and experience.

In November 2019, WCSUH-SCU collaborated with China Mobile and Huawei to build the world's first 5G private network for the healthcare sector, using mobile edge computing (MEC) equipment and network slicing. The solution represents a three-in-one integration of cloud, network, and industry.

In the context of China's dual circulation economic strategy, building smart cities will be an important driving force for industry transformation, innovation and development, and refined urban management.

The Chengdu Intelligent Twins solution will provide a world-leading one-stop AI engine for Chengdu government organizations and businesses. It will power intelligent governance and business, enhance quality of life for residents, stimulate the digital economy in the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, and support the city's global competitiveness.

All-scenario intelligence: Synergy across five tech domains

In 2020, Huawei's cloud and AI business set out new goals: to bring ubiquitous cloud and pervasive AI and build all-scenario intelligence for cities, industries, and enterprises. It will extend this approach from B2C to B2B, open up capabilities to all of society, enhance productivity and innovation capabilities, and enable the era of the smart economy. Intelligent Twins are what make the goal of all-scenario intelligence possible.

Huawei is collaborating with different partners to develop the three key scenarios – all-scenario smart city, all-scenario smart enterprise, and all-scenario smart industry – and build key capabilities for the smart economy, which will benefit every individual, home, and organization.

All-scenario smart city: This represents a new stage in smart city development. Intelligence in every corner of the city will power accurate analysis, system predictions, coordinated command, scientific governance, and scenario-based services for entire cities. Enterprises with a more open environment for innovation will continue to spawn new industries and new ecosystems. Residents will be able to enjoy convenient urban services, which will increase their quality of life. It will facilitate a city with an innovative smart ecosystem for all based on joint creation, sharing, and mutual benefit.

All-scenario smart enterprise: New technologies, such as cloud, AI, computing, and 5G, in all enterprise operation scenarios, will help companies deploy intelligence. This will enhance service experience, optimize business processes, and enable business innovation. It will help companies build competitive advantages and the ability to innovate in the intelligent era.

All-scenario smart industry: It will revolutionize technology and drive industrial transformation, and create high-value scenarios, service models, and business models in industries. It will accelerate digital transformation and intelligence in industries and boost productivity.

To achieve all-scenario intelligence, Huawei will build an ecosystem of technologies, including 5G, cloud, AI, computing, blockchain, and big data, that will create a fertile environment for development and become a foundation for the digital world. 

Following on from the Shenzhen Intelligent Twins and Chengdu Intelligent Twins, city Intelligent Twins are set to be deployed in more cities across the country. Huawei's roadmap, technical capabilities, and a world-leading AI computing platform will facilitate the gradual implementation of all-scenario intelligence, leading to truly intelligent cities in future.

Synergy across five tech domains – connectivity, AI, cloud, computing, and applications – will enable digital transformation to evolve to the next phase of development. The five technologies are the basic capabilities that will support all-scenario intelligence. 

With this synergy, Intelligent Twins can play a huge role in all industries in major scenarios. They will transform efficiency and experience in society, optimize production processes, and enable industry innovation. Our cities will have more convenient and seamless transportation networks. Companies will have more efficient production processes, such as using AI vision for quality inspection, and industries will be smarter and safer, including smart inspection for mines and power grids.

Accelerating deployment 

In addition to proposing the Intelligent Twins reference architecture and publishing a complete architecture diagram, Huawei has also released a white paper on the Intelligent Twins in conjunction with various organizations to promote the overall development of AI engines in China.

The AI engine architecture can be used in multiple scenarios including cities, enterprises, and industries. It uses an open ecosystem that will allow many companies to participate in smart city construction and improve the competitiveness of China's digital economy.

Intelligent Twins have a four-layer architecture: intelligent interaction, intelligent connectivity intelligent hub – the brain and decision-making system – and intelligent applications.

Powered by a commitment to infrastructure build out, Chinese cities are ushering in an intelligent revolution. As they take their next steps to becoming smart cities, they are smashing data silos and technical barriers and reducing duplicated construction.

Intelligent Twins will offer stable structures and flexible implementation. They will also meet the needs of cities of various scales, from small cities to mega cities. Intelligent Twins will accelerate the development of the smart economy and ecosystem.

Shenzhen Intelligent Twins have the soul of Shenzhen and Chengdu Intelligent Twins have the flavor of Chengdu. Each city's Intelligent Twins can have their own characteristics that reflect local scenarios. Huawei will work with various city partners to create a fertile environment for the development of the digital economy.