In the city of the future:Happy living is easy

Over just a few decades, a liveable green eco-city is taking shape.

In the city of the future:Happy living is easy

Over just a few decades, a liveable green eco-city is taking shape.

The city of the future

It is early April in 2047. A Beijing-Xiong’an intercity train is swiftly running towards its destination – the East Station of the New Area. The fields of north China are covered by rape flowers, sending out signs of an early spring. Leaning against the window, Shu Zhihua looks at his cell phone, and realizes that he will arrive at his destination soon.

As a digital service engineer at Siemens, Shu is on a business trip from Shanghai to the company’s China headquarters in Beijing for training. He will also visit a customer’s car plant in the New Area with his colleague to deliver a mechanical part. The map on his phone shows that the plant is quite a distance from the station. He orders his phone: “Please arrange the route from the East Station to the plant.”

The New Area was set up 30 years ago, when Shu was just a primary school student and there was no intercity rail then. He certainly has no idea how troublesome long-distance commuting used to be.

With the development of smart city clusters, high-speed and intercity rail lines at various speeds are connecting different cities much as arteries and capillaries link body parts. They have become a dense inter-city commuting network, bringing commuters great convenience. Shu is just one of the numerous beneficiaries.

It only takes half an hour on the train to travel from the New Area to the nearby big cities. Driven by development of modern transport, the New Area has attracted many high-tech industries from the big cities. Modern architectures are surrounded with various greeneries, and the New Area is also well equipped with facilities such as schools and hospitals. Over just a few decades, a liveable green eco-city is taking shape.

Smart transportation

With Siemens integrated mobility solutions, Zhuhai is improving its transportation network to build a livable city

“The fastest route has been calculated based on real-time data analysis. Please walk to the south exit of the railway station, turn left and take Metro Line 3. It will take about 40 minutes. The ticket has been purchased with a reserved seat.” The minute Shu steps out of the train, his mobile phone identifies his location and arranges the route.

This is Shu’s first visit to this prosperous place, but with the aid of the digital map, he could be a local commuter. The metro system is unmanned, boasting not only higher speed but also much larger passenger capacity than road transportation.

The metro line’s signaling system comes from Siemens. The driverless metro features shorter headway and greater safety. With doors that open and close automatically, the trains run quickly, like “intelligent creatures” with consciousness.

From a small backyard workshop in Berlin founded in 1847, Siemens has become an industrial leader over the past 200 years. Its founder Werner von Siemens seized the opportunity offered by the electrical revolution, and his successors have developed the company to new heights amid digital development.

That is why Shu chose to join Siemens after graduating from university. “The company provides a broad platform for me to show my talent in the field of digital technology,” he still remembers what he told his boss when he made Shu the job offer.

MindSphere, Siemens’ cloud-based open Internet of Things operating system, is a core of Siemens’ digital technologies. All man-made “things”, from traffic lights to factories, power plants and skyscrapers, have already been connected to the Internet. They can not only “talk”, but also “think”. They are constantly generating data and transmitting it to MindSphere in an encrypted form.

Through data-based services, MindSphere transforms data into value, thus changing business models and the work and lifestyles of several generations. It enables “intelligent” mobility, setting the stage for individualized manufacturing and making buildings perfect places for everyone.

Personalized “intelligent” manufacturing

Customers can order personalized cars in near future.

Stepping out of the metro station, Shu meets his colleague Yao Changxin. They rent an electric car, part of a share scheme. Under the guidance of the virtual digital map, they choose the best route, avoiding the congested sections around the downtown area.

All the data of the customer’s car plant have been stored on MindSphere, so Shu can work remotely as long as he opens his laptop and logs onto the software platform. “The system has reminded me that a mechanical part in Mr. Zhao’s plant needs to be replaced within a month, so let's deliver it to him,” Shu says to his companion when he gets into the car.

Arriving at the factory, they are greeted by Zhao Zhi, General Manager of Production Automation Department of the plant. They have been partners for years and witnessed the birth of the digital factory.

With Siemens’ digital solutions, the plant has become more flexible with efficient design and manufacturing processes, and can meet individualized consumer needs in terms of appearance and functionality.

“Mr. Zhao, we are here today to deliver a mechanical part, and have a look at the production lines. We'll see if there is room for improvement in the follow-up digital services,” Shu explains.

“Welcome! Let’s go, we can talk on the way,” Zhao says as the three men go into the workshop.

“Digital twins” of buildings

“Digital twins” of buildings

Shu and Yao always benefit from every plant visit. The sun sets before they finish their visit.

“Oh! I forgot to book a hotel room,” Shu says after getting out of the plant. “Let’s drive downtown. I’ll book a room with my mobile phone.”

“Open hotel reservation,” he tells his mobile phone. The smart “helper” in his mobile phone flashes and displays all the corporate hotels on a map. Shu looks at the map and circles a zone with his finger. Then he zooms in and sees M Hotel.

“I remember that M Hotel used Siemens building technologies. Why not give it a try?” Shu asks with a smile.

“OK, I’ll drive you there,” Yao immediately adjusts the route.

The wide boulevard has few cars on it. The soft breeze of the early spring brings the fragrance of grass. “I heard that the Building Information Model (BIM) was used in the city planning here,” Yao says.

At every stage of the life cycle of a building, from the planning, construction and operation, data is collected by BIM to facilitate the work of the designers, builders and operators on a unified and transparent platform. Thus, the building has its own “digital twin”.

Moreover, the city planners integrated intelligent building systems, renewable energy generation systems, local power distribution networks and the entire grid to maximize energy efficiency.

Before the completion of construction, the buildings were assigned different “roles”: some were for saving energy; some were installed with solar panels on their roofs or exterior walls, while others were able to store energy to feed the smart grid when necessary.

All the power generation, storage and consumption equipment is integrated and controlled by the intelligent energy management system to realize maximum energy efficiency and ensure safe, stable and reliable power supply.

The heating systems, building automation systems and even home appliances have sensors. Such data means power consumption and energy efficiency will flow into the managing platform of the digital grid, so that the power company can predict the total power consumption at any given period of time.

When Shu looks out of the car window and sees the photovoltaic panels installed on the road lamp, he feels the car is slowing down. “What’s up? Is the road closed?” Yao asks as he begins to brake. Just at that time, their mobile phones receive the same message: “The road ahead is closed for temporary maintenance. Please take a detour.”

Creating a perfect place

Siemens’ intelligent building control systems help create perfect places.

Shortly after taking the new route, Shu and Yao reach the parking lot outside the hotel lobby. They agree on a time for dinner and then go to the front desk.

They have been automatically checked in through their mobile phones. They quickly get their room keys and walk to the elevator. After Shu swipes his keycard, the elevator beeps and starts. When they reach their floor, the elevator automatically stops and the door opens.

The elevator has stopped on the 12th floor. The two men step out, seeing that the lights ahead are on, as if they were in the company of a smart guide. By this time, the lights, air conditioners, ventilators and water heaters in their rooms have all been turned on. The moment they enter their rooms, they find that lighting and the room temperature have been arranged perfectly.

Needless to say, these are created by Siemens’ intelligent building control systems. With them, the building seems to be alive and able to create perfect places for a variety of people.

Shu is very satisfied with the room. He takes off his suit, goes to the window, realizing that it is nighttime now. The once sparsely populated New Area is now home to hundreds of thousands of people, with lights shining like twinkling stars in the sky.