Huawei to tap safe, smart city interest with Singapore lab

Its Southern Pacific OpenLab is sixth of such facility globally featuring products and services from the Chinese vendor as well as its partners, including public safety and emergency response systems.

Huawei Technologies has opened a facility in Singapore to showcase products and services for public safety and smart city deployments.

The 650-square metre Southern Pacific OpenLab is the sixth and largest of such sites worldwide and the first in this region, with another four planned, according to Huawei. There are other OpenLab sites in Munich, Dubai, Moscow, Mexico City, and Suzhou.

At the Singapore launch Wednesday, company executives demoed various technologies designed to support safe city deployments including emergency response dispatch and monitoring systems. The lab also showcased, amongst others, Internet of Things, cloud, and banking products.

Huawei also signed partnership agreements with local systems integrator NCS, which is a subsidiary of Singtel, and global security systems vendor Tyco, to jointly create products and services for smart city initiatives.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launch, Huawei's global chief public safety expert Koh Hong-Eng said the vendor had implemented 100 safe city projects across more than 30 countries, including several in developed countries. Apart from Saudi Arabia and Kenya, which were part of the showcased case studies, he said Huawei was unable to reveal other cities involved in such initiatives due to confidentiality agreements.

Koh said the company's safe city platform, which included a command centre dashboard, was designed to integrate its own technologies and those other vendors as well as legacy systems, so previous generations of communications devices, such as those running on P25 and TETRA standards, could still work alongside newer devices on the network.

He added that all cameras used in its systems were equipped with digital watermarking tools and communication devices supported pluggable encryption modules, allowing customers to use their own encryption technology if they preferred.

Huawei would build, but not manage, such systems for cities and worked with public safety software vendor, Hexagon, to do so. Koh added that the two vendors recently won a joint project for a law enforcement agency in an Asean nation, but was unable to reveal more details on the contract.

The relationship with Hexagon, though, was not exclusive so Huawei clients that preferred to work with other public safety specialists had the option to do so, he said. The Chinese vendor also worked with local systems integrators as well as global partners in the deploying such systems, including SAP, which Hana platform was used to run analytics, Fujitsu, Infosys, and Orange Business Services.

Jerry Su, Hexagon's vice president of global strategy and product marketing for safety and infrastructure, noted that Asia's expanding urban population would put increasing pressures on existing resources and infrastructures, creating new challenges for cities.

According to World Health Organisation, 54 percent of the world's population lived in cities in 2014, up from just 34 percent in 1960. It added that the global urban population was projected to increase 1.84 percent a year between 2015 and 2020, and 1.63 percent a year between 2020 and 2025. Stats from the Asian Development Bank put Asia's urban population growth at 44 million every year.

Su said such figures underscore the need to put in place the necessary infrastructure to safeguard citizens and ensure public safety.

Integrated with Hexagon's public safety products, Huawei's safe city platform featured command-and-control software, video analysis, as well as eLTE communications used in law enforcement and emergency dispatch and response processes. The platform, for instance, would be able to track and identify vehicles by their colour and make using real-time video feeds, and allow law enforcement officers to provide pictures or videos from the scene of an incident.

Himself a former police officer in Singapore, Koh said the system was designed around the four key components of public safety: prevention, detection, response, and recovery.