Several Chinese city mayors have contacted Cisco regarding potential partnerships for its Smart+Connected Communities solutions, according to analyst firm, Ovum.
First unveiled in China a year ago, Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities concept aims to leverage intelligent network solutions to develop safer and more sustainable cities, according to Jane Wang, senior analyst at Ovum.
“The scale and pace of China’s urbanization, and the corresponding massive investment are driving Cisco’s increasing engagement with the Chinese market. China’s urban population will expand to the 1 billion mark by 2030. In 20 years, China’s cities will have added 350 million people – more than the entire population of the US today. By 2025, China will have 219 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants and 24 cities with more than 5 million people. The expansion of China’s cities will represent a huge challenge for local and national leaders. The growth will mean major pressure points for many cities, including the challenge of managing these expanding populations, securing sufficient public funding for the provision of social services, and dealing with demand and supply pressures on land, energy, water, and the environment,” Wang wrote in a research note.
“As a result, many city governments are increasingly aware of the urgency to embrace the “smart” approach as a way to make cities more sustainable and better places in which to live. This represents a significant opportunity for Cisco. Its “Smart+Connected Communities” approach includes solutions such as e-health, smart transport, smart education, and telepresence that can help governments to address these growing challenges.”
According to Wang, Cisco has an early mover advantage in China because its products and brand are widely used and accepted by many Chinese organisations, leading to a large mindshare in the government. Already, several Chinese cities, including Chongqing, Chengdu, Ningbo, Xi’an, and Wuxi, have announced partnerships with Cisco for their ‘smart city’ projects. As an example, Wang noted that Cisco is now setting up a Smart+Connected Communities Centre in Chongqing, where it will provide technical support and services, test Smart+Connected Communities solutions and products, and serve as a model for the network infrastructure required for the sustainable city development.
There are challengers for Cisco ahead, Wang added, highlighting the vast disparity in infrastructure development between different Chinese cities, making it difficult to have a single replicable approach. At the same time, financing such massive infrastructure projects, as well as its status as a foreign company, which doesn’t allow it to directly invest in government projects, can also slow progress, Wang noted.