Council's Chinese partnership to benefit smart cities worldwide

Tue, 2015-12-01 15:09 -- SCC Staff

Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst and National Development and Reform Commission Director Li Tie

The Smart Cities Council has signed a landmark agreement to help advance smart cities initiatives in China, but the partnership will pay dividends for cities worldwide.

China will tap the Council’s knowledge and resources to build smarter cities that are more livable and workable despite rapidly swelling populations. But the Council aims to learn as much as it shares, building and refining best practices and strategies that can be put to work everywhere.

In China, the Council is working with the Smart Cities Development Alliance, part of the China Center for Urban Development CCUD. Established in 1998, CCUD is an institution of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). CCUD specializes in policy research and providing decision-making support in the sphere of urbanization. 

Both sides have agreed on a list of joint projects where each can share knowledge and develop experience.

“We believe in the power of smart technology to make a difference on the planet wherever that technology comes from,” said Council Chairman Jesse Berst. “With its explosive urban growth and its hundreds of smart city pilots, China is becoming a hotbed of smart city experimentation.”

China’s urban population is large now, but it’s getting larger — fast. Forecasts call for another 100 million people to move from the country to cities over the next four years. Through the partnership, the Council will help Chinese cities use the latest resources and best practices to deliver positive, long-term results.

“If China uses old-fashioned methods to build its new urban infrastructure, it will trap citizens in the last century,” Berst said. “When you put in a road or a building, it will last for 50, 70, 100 years. If you haven’t built it smart from the start, you’re going to have to go back and constantly retrofit it, which is much more costly.”

The partnership also provides the Council a tremendous opportunity to learn. Because of its urgent need to change, China is developing a lot of its own smart cities technologies, which are being tested in deployments around the country.

Berst says this is a tremendous opportunity to work with CCUD Director Li Tie, a highly regarded urbanization expert who is a Research Fellow at Tsinghua University and who has helped draft China urban policies that apply countrywide.

The partners will also work together to try to boost collaboration between U.S. and Chinese universities, furthering the knowledge that is developed and shared.