A vision for high-tech, beautiful cities

A national-level new area, the BNA aims to become a smart and green model that is livable and suitable for business.

Duan Jiannan, a public servant in north China's Tianjin City, no longer has to get up early to avoid the morning rush, as a smart system operating locally helps ease traffic congestion to a large extent.

"The red lights lasting forever are nowhere to be found. As soon as I drive to the intersection, I get a green light," said Duan, 29.

In the Tianjin Binhai New Area, where Duan's home is located, a smart urban administration system called "urban brain" optimizes the operation of traffic lights to reduce vehicle waiting time and avoid traffic jams. With the use of this high-tech system, morning rush hour now ends 30 minutes earlier.

A national-level new area, the BNA aims to become a smart and green model that is livable and suitable for business. It will be built as one of the "twin cities" together with the Tianjin city proper some 60 kilometers away, according to Tianjin's 2021-2025 development plan.

"What we want to build is not only high-end industrial clusters, but also a beautiful city with humanistic care. We will integrate the industrial characteristics into urban construction, making the BNA a livable and business-friendly city," said Lian Maojun, Party chief of the BNA.

A perfect example embodying the smart and green development concept is the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City in the BNA.

Breaking ground on saline and alkaline land in 2008, the SSTEC is a cooperation project between China and Singapore.

"If the eco-city can be built here, the experience we gain can be copied in other cities," said Yan Xu, a local official.

The "urban brain" administration system in the SSTEC not only eases traffic congestion but also visualizes the underground pipes on screens as one of the measures adopted to build a "sponge city."

Other measures include the building of scenic wetlands and permeable pavements for rainwater storage, said Yang Yong, deputy director of the SSTEC administrative committee.

To cut emissions, solar panels are installed on building rooftops, outdoor benches and even garbage cans, with driverless electric buses ferrying passengers.

Power of 5G and AI

The SSTEC is also renowned for spawning high-tech companies.

As of January, more than 8,500 companies were registered in the eco-city with a population of about 100,000. Besides, 60 percent of the companies are smart or associated with technology.

A new "5G+AI" lab with full 5G coverage was inaugurated last month for 5G-related start up companies, such as Aima, an electric bicycle producer involved in developing technology-based safe bikes for delivery personnel, and Deepinfar Ocean Technology, a company in the R&D, manufacturing and sale of underwater robots.

"The lab can accelerate the incubation by pre-verifying the feasibility of 5G products before the commercial use of 5G network," said Zeng Yansheng, director of the lab.

Life in the eco-city has also become smarter, thanks to technology.

By running on a smart and sensor-equipped track, joggers can obtain their running speed and calorie consumption information on the display at the entrance. The benches next to the track are equipped with solar-powered wireless mobile chargers and can also serve as a stereo system.

In the Sino-Singapore Friendship Library, robots are used to shelve books and help readers find those they want to read.

"I can borrow a book by scanning its barcode, and return it with my face scanned," said the public servant Duan, who lives in the SSTEC. "The sorting robots will take care of the rest of the procedures."

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