5G delivers smart city transportation in Guangzhou

How ZTE is using 5G, AI, IoT and big data to revolutionise China's cities


Sponsored Feature The content of this article is based on an interview with ZTE Corporation vice president Dr Bai Gang.

Technological advances in 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are driving rapid digital transformation within the transport industry.

In the Chinese city of Guangzhou, ZTE has partnered China Mobile, Guangzhou Municipal Transportation Bureau and more than 10 other organizations to develop innovative applications for the "Guangzhou 5G Smart Transportation City" project.

This large-scale project encompasses the city's entire transportation ecosystem and involves unique deployments of 5G technology in five major transportation scenarios – a smart high-speed railway (HSR) application; a standalone (SA) 5G subway network; an intelligent fast bus dispatch system; an Internet of Vehicles application, and a road inspection system.

Within these deployments, ZTE is delivering what it describes as ten "atomic" services, including high uplink speeds; low latency; high reliability/availability; isolation and security; high-precision positioning; edge computing; a simplified network core; self-service operations and management (O&M), and customized terminals.

These 5G infrastructure and service components are integrated with AI and cloud technology to transform Guangzhou's rail transit, port terminal, civil aviation and highway systems. The project has benefitted non only the city's 20 million residents but also various vertical industries and government agencies in the following key areas:

Convenient travel

5G transport applications have reshaped the travel experience of Guangzhou's residents. Commuters now experience efficient security checks and ticket validations.

An all-in-one 5G-driven intelligent system has increased the throughput of passengers and their luggage by enabling real-time transmission of essential data between front-end systems and the management center. Coupled with 5G enabled monitoring and mobile patrol applications, these systems have helped transport operators shorten the average processing time for each passenger during peak hours by 20%.

Passengers also enjoy wireless gigabit Internet speeds anytime and anywhere in the station hall, platform and other locations. Even in a subway or HSR train compartment moving at speeds of 160km per hour, download rates of 600Mbit/s are possible.

Shorter waiting times

The bus control center monitors operations in real time using the 5G network, with the time needed to schedule bus lines reduced from a week to a day. Additionally, intelligent scheduling and data screening of bus services have improved the turnaround times and increased bus system capacity by about 10%. The outcome is that commuters enjoy shorter waiting times at bus stops.

Safer travel

Guangzhou Railway Group has concentrated its resources on 5G innovations such as an HSR early warning system that improves safety and security at stations and platforms.

During emergencies security personnel equipped with 5G augmented reality (AR) equipment and real-time access to a public security database keep a lookout for malicious actors and potentially hostile situations for example. Security staff at the Guangzhou Metro subway system also employ smart security checks and AR smart glasses to maintain safety.

In road administration, 5G applications have helped improve traffic safety, traffic planning and management efficiency, and traffic guidance capabilities. For example, a road inspection application has improved detection of road and bridge risks at the Nansha Bridge spanning the Pearl River.

Informed travellers

The passenger experience is further enhanced with the 'Guangzhou Travel Information Service' – a smartphone app which currently has over 10 million users – which offers up-to-date travel planning and information services. Commuters can access essential information that tells them how crowded a bus is for example. Transport and station operators are also using 5G-enabled high-precision positioning to provide accurate shopping and dining information for passengers transiting through subway and HSR station malls.

Productive operations

The Guangzhou project has improved the management and operational efficiency of the urban traffic and transportation system, with administrators at government agencies, regulators and transport companies now receiving timely, accurate and comprehensive support to shape their decision-making.

5G technologies and applications have helped to improve the security of the city's bus, subway, and HSR systems and enabled the automation of routine operation and maintenance (O&M) tasks which promote commercial success.

For example, a 5G bus rapid transit (BRT) Intelligent Dispatching System supports 20 application functions including fast operations scheduling, rapid bus traffic reports, real-time panoramic video surveillance, and safe driving pre-warnings - all of which have enhanced service quality and increased passenger satisfaction.

5G technologies have also created safe and conducive environments that boost the productivity of transportation company staff.

HSR vehicle maintenance workers, for instance, now use a suspension inspection system to remotely detect and assess the condition of mechanical components at the bottom of an HSR carriage from the comfort of their control room. What would require two man-hours of manual inspection now takes just two minutes of camera-assisted and AI-driven inspection.

ZTE's end-to-end cloud-based network solution supports a range of other 5G applications which ensure the smooth implementation of smart transportation capabilities.

Continuous innovation

Overall, this accelerated digital transformation has pushed the local transport industry towards improved operational efficiency, safety, security, customer satisfaction and business performance. And there's more.

Not resting on their laurels, the Guangzhou smart transportation partners have now set up an Innovation Lab to explore and implement new use cases. The ambition is to inspire companies in mobile telecommunications, transport and other vertical industries to look at the possibilities for innovation in their own operations which 5G enables.

In the meantime ZTE, Guangzhou Mobile and their partners have turned their attention to additional transport system improvements, including train control signal bearing, automatic service automation at railway freight marshaling stations, autonomous vehicles, and remote control of port bridges and hoists.

Elsewhere there are plans to implement network technologies based on ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), time-sensitive networking (TSN) and 5G LAN help to ensure high availability of key services.

Guangzhou Mobile, ZTE and the Guangzhou Railway Group have already scored a few firsts in China: In 2021, they built a 5G smart railway marshaling station, a 5G high-reliability private network oriented towards railway production, and an automated dispatching machine for example.

Having completed the Specifications on the Requirements of Integrated Automation Application 5G System, ZTE and its partners have now built an operator-based marshaling station which can process 13,500 vehicles per day, representing a 70% efficiency improvement.

Next on the agenda is a demonstration base for autonomous vehicles designed to showcase cutting-edge Internet of Vehicle applications. In doing so. hopes to attract more partners to its Innovation Lab and foster the same type of collaboration which can help replicate the initiative's success elsewhere.

Sponsored by ZTE

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