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Digital Silk Road, smart Dunhuang


Photo taken on Jan 29, 2018 shows scenery snow scene at the Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring scenic zone in Dunhuang, Gansu province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Dunhuang, a historic and cultural city in Northwest China's Gansu province, is applying information technology to develop tourism which in return is promoting its development into a smart city.

Dunhuang occupies some 31,200 square kilometers, and is famous for the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site along the ancient Silk Road. It is also home to the Yumen and Yangguan passes, two important points on the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD24). In 2012, Dunhuang was listed among the "Top 200 Charming Cities with Chinese Characteristics".

In recent years, the city has made efforts to build itself into a world renowned cultural tourism destination and has carried out a series of smart-city projects.

Applying information technology in tourism is the city's first move. To achieve that goal, Dunhuang has signed a cooperation agreement with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd -- a Chinese tech heavyweight -- looking for help to deal with the problems in tourist flows and public services.

According to the agreement, the two sides will cooperate to better utilize the public resources in education, medical treatment, transportation and employment and to establish an intelligent system to deal with government affairs in an innovative and efficient way. They will also promote transformation and upgrading of the tourism industry and provide security solutions for the major events and activities held in the city.

Based on its expertise in cloud computing, big data, internet of things, mobile internet and artificial intelligence, Huawei built a Feitian Cloud Data Center which has nine system platforms covering the aspects of family life, transportation, travel, healthcare, education and public information.

A roundtable focusing on exploring new methods of building a smart city, organized by Chinese tech heavyweight Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, is held in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province in October, 2017. [Photo/Xinhuanet.com]

The internet of things (IoT) was employed at scenic spots. The technology can analyze tourist flow and distribution, and collect information about vehicles and emergency warning systems, thus extending service coverage.

The IoT solution can also help improve capabilities in decision-making and deal with tourist flow peaks and emergencies. The exhibition centers are equipped with advanced equipment facilities in virtual reality and augmented reality which help distribute tourists and improve sight-seeing services.

The city also launched a "wireless city" solution providing the public, government organizations and enterprises with wifi anywhere and anytime. The service helped solve the problems caused by large tourist volumes during peak seasons and major events.

Cooperating with other scenic spots along the Silk Road, Dunhuang established a big data platform to analyze the features of tourists from different regions and thus make suitable marketing strategies. By integrating online marketing and offline services, Dunhuang managed to attract more tourists during low seasons and gave the region greater development sustainability.

A cloud center was set up where scenic spots are able to share data with government departments. It can help promote infrastructure construction for smart city.

Dunhuang has also launched a Safe City project. Huawei's intelligent cloud monitoring system was employed to provide services by integrating the functions of real-time monitoring, audio retrieval, voice intercom, digital map and data storage. With the system, authorities can issue emergency warnings in real time, check video data and analyze behaviors. It provides a reliable and efficient security protection for the city.

Thanks to the smart tourism system, the city received approximately 8.02 million tourists in 2016, a year-on-year increase of 21.37 percent. It was given the "China Leading Smart City" prize by the State Information Center and International Data Group in 2016 and 2017, and was nominated for a smart city prize at the 2016 Smart City Expo World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain.

With the help of information technology, Dunhuang managed to develop smart tourism by combining online promotion with offline operations. The implementation of information projects, such as a wireless city and public information platforms, helped improve urban management and services and promoted public satisfaction.