Eco city program – China’s City of the Future Rises on a Wasteland

China to be a leader in eco-cities?

Tianjing  Eco city – the first of this kind in terms of  sustainability, Manhattan 3 large size of Manhattan. GE motor is involved into the eco city program on providing the EV.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=859qN-d4P4w

The eco city projects from my perspective are mainly about large estate and utility investment, building new infrastructure completely from the scratch. In most smart city plans in the EU and USA, the focus is not on how to build new but how to retrofit with new sensing technology. The difference is due to the circumstances of the urbanization process between EU and China. Now the average urbanization process in EU is about 90% while in China is nearly 50%. It is estimated in every year, 15 million of people are moving into the urban for living.

However, my concern for the ‘eco city ’ is now it still looks like a estate project (Estate contributes at 5% GDP ) although it provides enormous opportunities for the underlying industries and technologies. I wonder how many people, what kind of people could benefit living in such smart city environment because a big social issue in China is very few people are able to afford a new house. Families spend whole life paying mortgage loan, and ironically people only own the house for 70 years. As the majority of people living the old town, old part of city so far, I think a priority is to discuss how to retrofit rather than rebuild new. Building new city don’t impact much in China, and really cost a lot. So I think the thing lies behind it is that government wants to use investment to keep the stability of GDP growth, and stimulates the other estate industry and smart grid industry again, like what is happening to the high speed train program. Export, investment, and demotic consumption are the main engine of economy. Now the demotic consumption is rather low due to the high inflation and export is going down due to the currency issue, the only thing to keep it is the government investment.

No matter how ambitious, how big it looks like. The lesson we learned from high speed train program is large investment would involve the corruption. The big speed train accidents this year is quite alerting caused large casualties and loss. And still large investment don’t pay back as expected since most people complain the service is not good, and the price is too expensive to afford

The second concern is in most blueprint of eco city project that the principle of open data, internet of things, open innovation, public participation is not that clear to read. Moreover the movement of a smart city is also a movement of people living in the city. But so far, public participation is not seen and rarely mentioned. We see these plans really help to sustain the city with new technology. Everything in the project is about how much it is good to the city by mitigating the city issue, but not about how much it truly helps to benefit the people in their lives. The users are still not the center of city.

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