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Can’s AI Make Chinese Cities ‘Smarter’ and Reduce Pollution?

By Ding Yi / Dec 17, 2020 06:20 PM / Environment

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

JD iCity, a unit of ecommerce company JD focusing on smart cities, has applied its artificial intelligence-driven control system to a thermal power plant in North China with the aim of improving efficiency and cutting pollution. The latest news rides the wave of ongoing government encouragement to build cities powered by cutting-edge technologies including AI, big data and the internet of things.

The system, which is being used in the power plant located in Langfang in Hebei province is able to monitor multiple core variables for boilers in real time including temperature, coal feeding processes and air distribution for the purpose of optimizing combustion efficiency and reducing coal consumption, according to a company statement released on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the system can also make operational plans for the plant’s workers based on big data, reducing spend on high-level professionals who would previously have made such judgements, the statement added.

Hebei province is notorious for chronic air pollution as the result of a large concentration of highly polluting industries, with environmental challenges intensifying every winter when coal is used to meet much of the region’s heating needs.

In recent years, the provincial government has ramped up efforts to get rid of the stigma of being associated with some of the worst pollution in the country, including capping steelmakers’ output and urging wider use of clean energy. These are also part of the country’s wider efforts to meet the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2060.

China’s other tech giants including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have also put forward plans and solutions to help local governments across the country build intelligent cities.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (

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