JDD's New Priority iCity Urban Computing Platform
COVID-19 and China
JDD's New Priority iCity Urban Computing Platform. PHOTO: Credit to iYiou

JD Digits (JDD, 京东数科 formerly known as  JD Fiance), is the fintech arm of JD Group. 

On March 21, JDD held its Smart City Conference in Beijing. In that conference, a specific name has been given to JD's Smart City project - JD iCity. ZHENG Yu (郑宇), the vice president of JD Group and JD Digits and president of JD City Division, has highlighted JD iCity as the priority project for JD Group.

Quick Take:
- iCity is the smart city operating system 
- Openness is the key feature of iCity
- iCity has three layers: computing platform, product and Scenario-based solutions
- ZHENG YU will be responsible for iCity
- JD collaborated with Suqian government
- China has become the keenest country in developing smart city projects

What is iCity:

Essentially the concept is smart city related.

iCity is the smart city operating system. ZHENG pointed out that if describe a city as a supercomputer then iCity will be its operating system like Windows. Vertical applications like Smart Transport, Smart Planning, and Smart Resources will be built upon the iCity system.

iCity will rely on AI and big data, which aligns with JD's ABC strategy. ABC combines AI, big data and cloud computing.

Features of iCity:

Openness is the key feature of iCity and has three meanings:

#1 Open to cloud computing platform meaning it can be operated on different cloud platforms.

#2 Open to users (enterprise) meaning users can set up and run different applications on the system

#3 Open to developers meaning developers can come up with solutions based on this system and contribute to the ecosystem 

iCity has three layers, from bottom to up as listed below:

Computing platform: the most fundamental part is the city computing platform. Multiple urban computing platforms are connected and communicated through digital gates to collect data in the city as a whole. Those dates can be analyzed and used to solve urban problems in transportation, planning, environment, energy used, public safety and businesses etc.

Product: its products are module based which can be easily exported. It covers 6 fields which are smart transport, smart planning, smart energy, public security, smart pollution control, smart culture&tourism. For example, in the smart transport area, a product might help to monitor the traffic, managing carpooling etc. 

Scenario based solutions: includes city-level credit system solution, AI+ urban planning solution, smart parking solution, smart campus solution, and smart city solution. It could come across different products to meet the specific demands of a certain scenario. 

Who is responsible for iCity:

ZHENG is the leader of iCity and chief data scientist at JD.

Before joining JD group:
ZHENG has worked at Microsoft Research Asia for 12 years mainly responsible for city computing. He is the first one who has brought up the concept of "urban computing".

He has done abundant research on the topic of urban computing and published more than hundreds of essays regarding this topic.

JD's iCity plan:

In February 2018, JD Digits set up city computing division and appointed ZHENG as the manager of this division and the head of city computing research institution. 

In March this year, JD Digits has signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Suqian (a place where JD's CEO is from) government to make the city as a new smart city. JDD will apply its technical advantages in big data, AI and IoT will government to and land credit city, smart Suqian App and credit loan.   

What're the purpose and challenges of iCity:

The ultimate goal is to deliver a better quality of life via data and technology.

Data isolation and funding gap are the key challenges. Data isolation is caused by a large volume of complex structured data without cross-functional integration and insufficient motivation to combine data together. The funding gap is caused by fewer investments made by businesses meaning it is mainly funded by the government at the current stage.

The landscape of the smart city in China:

In 2013, The China Smart City Industry Alliance was established under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China. RMB 500 billion (USD 74 billion) has been invested. 

 According to a report published by Deloitte, China has become the keenest country in developing smart city projects with 500 pilot cities. For comparison, the US and India have 90 and 40 smart cities under construction.
According to ZHENG, there are three types of smart city solution providers which are the traditional providers, cloud computing vendors and AI companies. While JD is different from them and there is a high chance for JD to collaborate with them in the future.

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