Big data propels China's inland province into Belt and Road

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Before Duan Ping, a truck driver in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, left for the neighboring Guizhou Province with a truckload of fruit, he tapped on his smartphone and secured a wood transport order so that he would not have to drive an empty truck back.

Duan, 37, has been driving a truck for over a decade. Not many years ago, he had to stare at a small blackboard looking for orders. Today, with a smartphone in hand, he can take orders anytime, anywhere.

Duan is among the 5.2 million registered truck drivers on Huochebang, an Uber-like truck hailing platform based in Guizhou. More than 1.25 million goods owners post their demands on it everyday.

"The integration of information consolidated on one platform not only increases the incomes for millions of truck drivers, more importantly, it also improves logistics efficiency across China," said Wang Bingzhi, a public relations director at Huochebang.

Wang said the company has made efforts to channel its transport and technology capacities overseas in recent years, especially in countries along the Belt and Road.

In May 2017, Huochebang launched a multilingual version in Uygur, Russian and Mongolian in Xinjiang. The cross-border freight information network has since strengthened the trade connectivity between Xinjiang and neighboring countries.

As China's first big data pilot zone, Guizhou has attracted heavyweight players, including Apple, Qualcomm, Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba and Foxconn, to establish cloud computing and big data centers as well as regional headquarters.

Big data has become the most important tool for the mountainous province to go global and reach cooperation.

Last February, the city government of Guiyang, the provincial capital, signed a cooperation framework agreement with NASSCOM, an Indian non-profit IT industry association, and NIIT, an Indian talent development enterprise. The NASSOM (Guiyang) IT Industry Cluster District and the NIIT Big Data College were inaugurated on a forum at the China International Big Data Industry Expo in May 2018.

In November, a dozen experts from Belt and Road countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine were invited to Guiyang for technical exchanges. Various cooperation intentions were signed during their visit.

A mountain flood predicting and warning system, developed by Guizhou East Century Technology Company, has been incorporated into the national flood control platform in the Philippines.

"Flood predicting used to require a large number of sensors installed beside waters, which was costly in equipment maintenance and operation. The forecast lead time was also not very long," said Li Sheng, president of the company.

Li said the new system, based on the advanced analysis technology of big meteorological data, can predict and update early flood warnings every 15 minutes.

The company has planned to cooperate with more Belt and Road countries to enhance their ability in predicting flood hazards, Li added.

"The pilot zone is actively building a digital Belt and Road and a community of shared future in cyberspace, attracting world-class big data companies while pushing Guizhou to the world," said Jing Yaping, deputy director of the provincial big data development authority.

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