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Case study: The future of transportation? I’m ready.

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By Professor Zou Fumin

All major cities need to get smarter. It’s a fact that the world is urbanizing rapidly — not the least of all, China — and that 80 percent of the global population will be living in cities by 2050. So what do we do? We get smarter about urban living and transportation, and this is exactly what we’re doing in Fujian province.

Smart cities require data, and lots of it. In our case, we wanted to give local citizens real-time updates on traffic conditions for them to make better travel choices. We also wanted to obtain a detailed picture of road usage in Fujian. The problem was that our existing IT infrastructure couldn’t process the large quantities of data coming into our computer center from traffic cameras and vehicle-based sensors. We needed a big data solution. 

Finding the answers among big data

My plan was to create a highly scalable big data infrastructure in the cloud to simplify management. I had no solution provider in mind and was open to proposals from all of the leading companies such as HP, IBM, Huawei and Dell. Of all the proposals, I found the Dell end-to-end solution the most compelling. We gained the servers, storage and switching needed to process transportation data and deliver the results. What’s more, we would receive support during deployment and operation of the cloud solution to maximize its reliability.

The big data platform was built on Dell PowerEdge M620 servers with Intel®Xeon® processors, running the VMware® vCloud® Suite. The servers sit in Dell PowerEdge M1000e modular blade enclosures, together with the Dell Networking MXL blade-based switches. Straight off, this gave us 10-to-40GbE connectivity. For storage, we took advantage of the Dell Storage SC8000 flash-enabled array to tier our data. To finish, we installed Dell PowerEdge R730 and R720 servers, which help support a website where citizens can see traffic congestion on local roads.

Becoming future-ready

In essence, we are preparing for the future by creating a high-performance, scalable cloud platform using vCloud on a complete Dell stack. Using an in-memory database, we’ll gain services to mine and analyze real-time big data on local road usage, and deliver the information to residents and government offices.

Looking at the bigger picture, the regional authorities will now have better information on vehicle usage to design road building programs. This, in turn, will drive our Smart City strategy to manage rising vehicle numbers and help road users travel more efficiently by reducing congestion.

Time is pressing, as vehicle ownership is growing fast across China. Still, I’m confident we’ll find the answer to tomorrow’s transportation challenges because our cloud platform makes us future-ready.

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