What do modern trash cans in your country look like? In Poland it looks like this:
Built-up with some kind of a lock. This is the average, modern trash can in Poland. Of course we do have SEMI garbage cans too – half in the ground, sending messages when they’re full. But still, they’re not very common yet.
In the meantime, trash cans in Yinchuan look like in this video:
This kind of a bin, powered by solar batteries (black panels on the top) opens the hatch automatically and after throwing bottles/bags/batteries, it crushes the object and compacts it up to 20% of its original size. Because Yinchuan has a WiFi network in the city, a signal is sent when the bin is full.
Garbage is not very typical topic to start an article with. But if these kinds of prosaic, commons things like trash are smart, then what about other things in the city? Yinchuan has a Management Center which is reminiscent of NASA’s control rooms, drones all over the city, cameras and polite officials. Is this heaven?
No. It’s only China. And to be exact, north of the country, 1100 km from Beijing.
It is said that Yinchuan is an example of a perfect Smart City. Everything there is “smart” – modern and innovative. The city government has this amazing Management Center, where they can control everything going on in the city. On a huge screen (it is one monitor, not many small ones) are displayed: crossroads, “threat maps”: accidents, traffics, crossroads, ambulances, drones and alerts (e.g. like weather alerts).
A huge screen:
Management Center’s workers:
There is a quite similar hall, but only to control traffic congestion. The video from cameras is sent to the Management Center, so workers might see what is happening on the streets without moving from the Center.
Holograms seem to be obvious. A very polite and helpful two-dimensional lady will explain you the rules of the control panels work and how to check… Well, actually everything 🙂
A touch panel:
China is famous for its bureaucracy and administration. But this kind of problem can not take place in a perfect city, can it? A Smart City has to be helpful for its citizens, so they were able to implement the rule of: “one document – one room – one day” (I wrote about that before here). Yes, you can even start your own business in just one day. You don’t have to go from one door to another anymore. But you have to be patient during special breaks for exercising. They are very popular in China and Japan to keep the workers in a good shape and health. You can observe them and join to these exercises if you want to.
Cameras are everywhere. While entering a building, your photo is immediately taken (you can see it later), which helps the facial recognition system. But don’t be scared and don’t listen to the conspiracy theorists! They are supposed to secure items in exhibition from thefts, it helps find missing people or opens your letter box. Instead of keys or codes, the system recognizes your face and opens your box. You cannot only receive a delivery, but also leave your package or letter and the postman will take this and send it for you 🙂
Face recognition system “FaceID”:
Drones with cameras are helpful for the Management Center as well. Thanks to them it’s easy to find out about accidents on the roads and disturbing situations on the streets. Our hosts showed us two kinds of drones: one just for performances and the other ones for watching over the city. Those which were used for demonstrations had colorful lights.
Drones for demonstrations:
Drones to observe the city:
Our hosts showed us their mastery in pilotage during the dinner when we could see 35 such machines above us, composing in the name of the organizer.
I could write much more about Yinchuan and post dozens of pictures – but even that wouldn’t be enough to present all the marvelous things you could find in Yinchuan. But the message is quite simple: this is a place where the two worlds meet. On the one hand, this is the real city with their citizens, problems and goals to achieve. On the other hand, this is a kind of an ongoing experiment. “Jinfeng Sitrict” was built practically from scratch, trying to chose the most modern, ecological solutions – and they were able to make it. However, we shouldn’t think about this city as a “sterile city”. We can easily come across some ideas that “Smart Cities” are artificial and utopian places, which should never exist: life there is “limited”, we won’t see any children there, no quarrels on the streets, no poor people. There is no crime, no non-governmental organizations, no old people and everyday problems.
Meanwhile, our visit in Yinchuan ensured us that this way of thinking is completely wrong. This city has its own sactuaries, citizens, culture and it’s own unique atmosphere. Creating new solutions must begin somewhere. If we don’t try, then we fail immediately. We can make a lot of mistakes, because this is the nature of humans. But this effort to make the world a better place is always worth trying. Finding new solutions might help transfer them to other countries, regions, cities, continents. So it’s quite obvious that “Smart City” is not only about new technology, but also refers to the human mind – to be smart by trying to implement state-of-the-art technology in everyday life.
Some pictures were made by us. Some of them are screens from this video: HERE.