Huawei unveils artificial intelligence smart cities platform

Huawei's +AI Digital Platform connects the command centre, network, and sensors, enabling the deployment of smart cities solutions utilising artificial intelligence.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Huawei has unveiled its new smart cities digital platform utilising artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, which it said could be used across smart public safety, environmental protection, transportation, government, education, and agriculture.

Huawei's +AI Digital Platform connects what it calls the brain, or command centre; the central nervous system, or network; and the peripheral nervous system, made up of sensors across a city.

"Just like an operating system, the platform is compatible with different city sensors, creates a city digital twin, and supports diverse city applications," Huawei Enterprise Business Group VP Ma Yue said.

The smart cities digital platform combines AI, IoT, big data, a geographic information system, video, cloud, converged communications, and security.

"Huawei has also developed a middleware platform to provide services to software application partners. This is designed to help application partners quickly develop upper-layer applications to accelerate transformation and innovation in city management, city services, and industry development," the Chinese networking giant added.

According to Huawei, smart cities solutions are now in their fourth stage thanks to the addition of greater AI capabilities.

"A smart city development race driven by the growing global digital economy is taking place around the world," Huawei said.

"Smart city adoption has undergone the first stage of breaking down data silos; the second stage of the rise of mobile internet applications; and the third stage of IoT deployment for collection of mass volumes of city data.

"It is now at the fourth stage, where cities are improving their management capabilities through AI-enabled data mining, achieving the integration of digital technologies and city governance to promote sustainable city development."

Huawei said its smart cities solution has now been deployed across more than 160 cities in 40 nations, including in Duisburg, Germany; Rustenburg, South Africa; and Tianjin's Binhai New Area.

Huawei last month unveiled its AI strategy and portfolio, including a series of chips, cloud services, and products.

The company's Ascend AI chip series includes the Ascend 910 and Ascend 310, with the company also unveiling the Compute Architecture for Neural Networks (CANN), a chip operators library and automated operators development toolkit, and MindSpore, a device, edge, and cloud training and inference framework.

The latter includes "full-pipeline services, hierarchical APIs, and pre-integrated solutions", Huawei said, with the Chinese networking giant to later expand its AI stack to include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliance, and other AI products.

"Huawei's AI strategy is to invest in basic research and talent development, build a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, and foster an open global ecosystem," rotating chair Eric Xu said in October.

Huawei at the same time announced its smart cities AI partnership with Tianjin Binhai New Area, as well as a smart campus solution and joint innovation laboratories alongside Chinese real estate developer Vanke.

"The Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area designed and developed an AI-based '1 + 4 + N' smart city solution, which refers to one centre, four platforms, and additional innovative applications," Huawei said.

The centre is Huawei's "city brain" Intelligent Operations Centre, which aggregates and processes data collected from the government, businesses, and citizens through IoT applications and internet access.

The four AI platforms are then Resident Voices, which has voice recognition for all citizens of Tianjin; Sensing the City, which uses image recognition across people, places, vehicles, and things "for the purpose of fostering harmony for all"; Resident Care, which involves deep learning and correlation for personalised services for citizens; and Enterprise Services, which ensures services availability match their need by applying "multi-dimensional and correlation analysis to clarify the internal relationships of industries in the TEDA district".

Huawei's AI push saw it sign a strategic agreement with Chinese search engine giant Baidu in December last year to build an open mobile AI ecosystem that covers platforms, technology, internet services, and content ecosystems.

Huawei head of Consumer Software Engineering and director of Intelligence Engineering Felix Zhang had last year said the addition of AI capabilities to smartphones will bring the next shift in technology.

Huawei had unveiled its Kirin 970 chipset with built-in AI in September 2017, at the time calling it the "future of smartphones". Its mobile AI is made up of a combination of on-device AI and cloud AI.

Huawei had in May also announced the launch of its eLTE Multimedia Critical Communications System (eLTE MCCS), which it said provides "ultra-reliable" communications solutions for public safety organisations.

According to Huawei, the narrowband networks traditionally used for public safety are limited to providing access to basic voice services. The eLTE MCCS service uses a mobile service convergence platform to interconnect such networks with video surveillance and GIS.

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