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Beijing expo gives a glimpse of the smart city of future with cutting-edge technology
By Xia Yuanyuan  ·  2019-09-27  ·   Source: NO. 40-41 OCTOBER 3, 2019
China Telecom's 5G-enabled robot is unveiled at the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 on April 29 (VCG)

At the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 in Beijing, the organizers and stalls have roped in a new breed of assistants to cope with the rush of 16 million visitors from home and abroad.

One of them is iBEN, an adult-sized robot sporting a 27-inch interactive screen. The screen is meant for visitors to make their queries. iBEN then helps them to register, navigate the expo that is the size of nearly 500 football fields, and make business inquiries.

"I asked the robot about the park map, routes and information on the exhibition area," said Liu Ying, a Beijing resident visiting the expo, delighted with the assistance.

In some food stalls, robot baristas are whipping up cups of cappuccino or doing the cleaning in just minutes.

The future has arrived at the expo that is a green as well as an intelligent fair with a smart management system comprising over 5,000 items and facilities that run on high technology.

 
The 5G Media Center of the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 in Beijing (LIN XIN)

Tech for trash

The humble trash can is a prime example. As visitors throw waste in it, it sends out an alert when it is almost full so that it can be emptied. The over 3,000 manhole covers also use the same technology. When a cover comes loose, it sounds off an alarm, alerting the maintenance staff. Street lamps automatically adjust their brightness based on the ambient light available.

The expo's intelligent system encompasses air monitoring, fire protection, sanitation, lighting and smart manhole covers. The service platform monitors all these items through sensors and the data is analyzed for future use.

These advanced technologies enable the park management to monitor the facilities without leaving their office. The platform can display all the corners of the park through an interface. All of this is done via fifth-generation wireless network (5G) technology connected with the sensors installed in each facility.

"We've tested the whole system numerous times. The expo could be a miniature version of a future smart city when 5G is fully put into use," said Li Lumin, a China Telecom staffer.

Other cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, are also employed at the expo to showcase the role of modern technology in improving the quality of life.

Yu Shuang is enjoying an extraordinary view of the expo. Wearing a pair of high-powered virtual reality glasses, she is among a group of visitors who are watching live-streamed footage of the fair taken by remote cameras on drones flying around the exhibition venue, which is then beamed in real time via the 5G network. Thanks to the high speed of 5G and negligible delay in data transfer, the videos can be viewed almost immediately after they are recorded, giving viewers an immersive experience.

"This is so advanced! We can enjoy the best views of the expo," she said.

Application of 5G cellular abounds in the expo. In the 5G exhibition hall of China Telecom, one of the main telecommunications service providers in China, visitors can snap selfies with rare plants and watch high-definition videos to learn about the progress in self-driving vehicle technology, telemedicine, drone logistics and transportation, as well as other 5G network applications.

"It is the first time we are applying this latest technology and we want visitors to enjoy the convenience brought by high technology," Guo Ziliang, Deputy Director of the Information Department of the expo's Exhibition Coordination Bureau, said.

The media center of the expo offers reporters from local and international media outlets 5G Internet connection, which makes downloading files dozens of times faster than when using 4G. It takes only seconds to download a full-length HD movie with a file size of 1GB.

China issued 5G commercial licenses on June 6, when China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Broadcasting Network were authorized to operate 5G digital cellular mobile communication business. The 5G commercialization will boost the development of IoT and buoy China's economic development, Guo said.

Dancers perform during the Xinjiang Day event of the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 in Beijing on September 16 (XINHUA)

Green innovators

The theme of the expo, Live Green, Live Better, is also associated with technology, which has played a leading role in China's ecological development.

In the past, a growing number of factories and power plants caused ecological damage and to tackle the challenge, the government introduced a number of green initiatives.

One of the latest is an AI-powered monitoring platform developed by the Feline Research Center of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) and HIT Big Data Group to support research on ecological systems, animal populations and individual animals through advanced technology.

Its main application for now will be monitoring endangered Siberian tigers and leopards that live mainly in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin and border areas between China and Russia.

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, one of the top Internet companies in the world, is using digital technology to advance green finance.

It has launched a scheme, Ant Forest, that encourages users to cut down on their carbon use in exchange of "green energy points." When they acquire enough points, an actual tree is planted. Since its launch in August 2016, Ant Forest and its partnering non-governmental organizations have planted some 122 million trees in China's driest areas, demonstrating the massive potential of fintech for supporting sustainable development.

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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