China International BigData Industry Expo 2019 (a brief report)

This week I am attending the 2019 China International Big Data Industry Expo (CIBD 2019), held in Guiyang, China. I will report on the event on this blog. The event is from May 26-29.

Why this event is important?

The China International Big Data Industry Expo is a huge event, and the biggest related to big data in China. This year 448 companies are participating, including over 150 foreign companies such as SAS and Microsoft, and major Chinese companies like Tencent and Huawei. The exhibition space is more than 60,000 square meters and more than 1700 foreign visitors from 38 countries are attending. In previous years many leaders of the Chinese industry have also given talks at this expo such as Pony Ma and Jack Ma.

Why I attend?

It is an excellent event to connect with the industry and see the trends and recent innovations related to big data, and also to learn about new government policies. I have attended CIBD 2018 last year (report about CIBD 2018 here), and I think it was a great event. I attend as VIP guest.

Why is it held in the city of Guiyang?

I will explain briefly. Guiyang is located in the province of Guizhou in China. Historically, Guizhou is not one of the richest provinces in part due to its location a bit far from the coast. However, a key feature of the region is its large water and electricity supply, cool weather, and it is located in a stable geological area. All these factors are highly desirable for setting up large data centers for storing big data. For this reason, it has been selected as a key city for the development of the big data industry in China. Huge government incentives are in place to transform Guiyang into the Chinese city of big data. Due to this, it has grown very fast in recent years. Numerous large international and Chinese companies have data centers in Guiyang such as Apple, Tencent, and Alibaba. It is said that more than 1600 big data companies are now operating in Guiyang, generating a yearly revenue of more than 15 billions USD. The GDP of the city is also growing very fast (increased by 10 percent last year!). It is thus a very interesting place for everything about big data. The Big Data Expo is held every year in Guiyang around the end of May.

Location of Guiyang in China

Theme: Data creates values

This year, the expo has a special theme on the applications of big data. Beside the exhibition, 49 forums, and several talks, conferences and other activities are held. Some of the topics that are going to be discussed are big data, AI, self driving cars, security, data science, 5G, intelligent manufacturing,  blockchains, and smart cities.

Some announcements are also expected about new policies in Guiyang to attract talents, and the growth of the Shubo Avenue, a novel district in Guiyang for big data companies and projects that is receiving major investments.

2019 China International Big Data Fusion and AI Global Competition

On the 25th May afternoon, I attended this competition, which was held at the Empark hotel, and sponsored by Intel. The format of this competition is quite interesting with a set of 9 judges evaluating competitors, followed by an award ceremony. The judges included Prof. Jian Pei, King Wang (Tencent cloud), and others. Each competitor team had 8 minutes for presenting his project and answer questions from judges. The event was very well organized, offering simultaneous translation from Chinese to English, which makes it accessible to non Chinese speakers.

The first team was from Israel, a company called Keepod. They mentioned that 4 billion persons don’t have access to personal computing (excluding mobile devices) and the solution is not to buy a computer to each one. They instead propose to distribute an encrypted USB to each student that contains data and applications so that many people can share the same computers by just plugging their USB to a computer to work and then leave with their USB. The project is used in Cameroon and other countries.

The second team is a startup iSpace that relies on AI. They develop an advanced recovery control system and fault analysis for rockets. The system appeared interesting but the presenter spoke very fast and changed slides sometimes very quickly. In my opinion, they should have the presentation more succinct rather than try to show too much in a short time. But the technology looks great.

The third team is a company from Beijing working on AR (augmented reality). They mention that resolution of AR glasses is important. They developed prototypes of advanced AR glasses, that can have various applications such as for military. They are focused on the hardware solution and optics.

The next company is Braid (不来赛德) from Shenzhen, and relies on AI for industrial projects. They use knowledge and concept graphs, deep learning and other technologies. Some of their projects is related to analyzing transaction data from stock markets.

The next company is TrueMicro. They work on low power chips. One of their product is a computing stick called Movidius. One application is for traffic monitoring. They also develop chips based on RISC-V architecture for AI. They supply chips for some Huawei servers and 5G base stations. They also provide ASIC and FPGA.

The next team is Pzartech from Israel. Its goal is to provide solutions to reduce the downtime of complex mechanical systems such as engines of airplanes. In fact, if an airplane has a problem then it cannot fly until it is fixed and money is lost. The proposed solution uses image treatment, deep learning and semi synthetic data generation. A technician that repairs an engine takes a picture of a part with his cellphone to find information about the part such as its name, which greatly helps to fix a system more quickly. It is basically and object recognition problem supported by the cloud.

The next company works on IoT with 5G technology, and is named CranCloud. It works on base stations. They work on integrated solutions rather than only chips.

The next company is related to AI for smart security checks. Mostly, they have solutions for the analysis of pictures or videos based on AI, such as to analyze pictures from security checks at airports, or pictures of parcels send through mail. They use labelled data from train or subway security checks. They aim to detect forbidden objects such as lithium batteries.

The next company is about computer vision with AI. They mention that there are many applications of computer visions/ They discussed some applications such as intelligent security checks and intelligent kitchen. They propose an algorithm platform named Extreme Vision for vision recognition, which has more than 500 algortihms. Some applications are fire detection or detecting that construction workers don’t wear helmets. One of the judges mentioned that there are already many AI vision companies. The presenter explained that they provide a platform to facilitate the development of AI vision solutions.

The last company is a Shanghai based company, also working on deep learning technology for image processing and other related topics, which collaborates with Huawei, Xiaomi, Toyota and Apple. They have a transportation big data platform, and analyze data from vehicles to improve self driving cars, among other projects. They also have technology to analyze industrial parts. Their business model is to sell license for their software.

The judges then provided some general comments. One of the comment is that many teams were focusing on computer vision with AI, and solutions for this type of problems have become quite mature, and perhaps that it is important to focus on specific applications such as security checks for this type of project. Moreover, a judge was also happy to see the more fundamental research such as on chips. There was also several other comments.

The awards were then presented. Keepod, Braid, and Pzartech received some “access” awards. Three companies received a “innovation award” such as the Extreme vision platform company from Shenzhen. Finally, the top three winners were announced. The third prize was to TrueMicro, the first prize was to iSpace, and the second prize was to CranCloud. I perhaps missed a few details about the awards and may not be totally accurate.

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony was held on the 26th May at the Guiyang International Eco Conference Center.

Several leaders from the Chinese government were present such as:

Wang Chen, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Miaowei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Guo Zhenhua, Deputy Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Yang Xiaowei, Deputy Director of the National Internet Information Office, Rongfa, Vice-Director of the State Administration of Taxation, Xianzude State Statistics Bureau, Wang Mingyu, Vice-Governor of Liaoning Province

and representatives and CEOs from many companies.

A letter from the Chinese president Xi Jinping supporting the expo was read.

and a letter from the secretary general of United Nations:

It was mentioned during the ceremony that some goals are to support big data companies, and the recruitment of talents, how big data can support the industry, how to ensure security of the data, build core technology, how to design regulations about how data is handled.

Paul M. Romer winner of the 2018 Nobel prize of economics gave a talk. He talked about the concept of cyber sovereignty, that is that each country should be able to regulate the Internet. He mentioned that in some countries like USA, what is good for firms often take over was is good for society. The most common business model is targeted advertisement and the user often don’t know about the data they are giving. He talked about other things such as implementing big data for road networks to improve people s lives using big data.

There was then a talk by Whitfield Diffie, famous cryptography specialist and Turing award winner. He first mentioned that 5000 years ago, and now we are moving our culture in the cloud. He mentioned that computers were designed for big data, as the properties of big data such as variety have always been there. For big data, we need computers to store and process data. He defined artificial intelligence as using computers to do things that people used to do such a playing Chess, Go, translation and autonomous driving. For him the most important aspect of AI is to leverage huge amount of data to think about things that people cannot think about. He also talked about cyber-security. Information should.not.be corrupted (integrity) and we need to know the source (authenticity). Confidentiality of data is important and depends on authenticity (for example, phishing websites). Big data can be used to reduce security, But AI can give new techniques of controlling computers that may improve security. Big data security depends on the control of input data, the mining process, and the results. Big data will be everywhere in our society and its security is crucial.

He shown a quote from the Chinese president:

There was then a talk by Prof Gao Wen From Beijing University. He talked that a fourth industrial revolution may happen in 10 years, where artificial intelligence would play the key role. He talked about weak vs strong AI and that technology we have today is weak AI. He also mention that AI has evolved from coding in the 1970s to expert systems with rules in the 1980s to now deep neural nets trained using big data (in terms of trends). He mentioned that having data is key to doing big data research so working with companies is good for academia. He thinks that computer that we use today will not be able to achieve strong AI, for example the brain consumes much less energy than a computer, so we should reach that efficiency. An advantage of China is the large amount of data. Open source platforms are great for advancing technology. China would benefit from developing its own open source platforms, and having more AI specialists.

The Industry Expo

The Interactive Art Exhibition

There was also a very interactive art exhibition where people could interact with art using technology. Here are a few pictures.

The Big Data Concert

In the evening, I was invited to a great Big Data concert by the Symphony Orchestra of Guiyang.

The Belt and Road Forum

I attended the “Belt and Road” Big Data Innovation Entrepreneurship Forum. There was several guests.

From the industry, Johannes Vizethum from Advisory Allies gave a talk about the applications of AI with big data, and about how AI can benefit to the industry. He discussed several use cases, including some augmented reality system to help repair cars. This system can recognize pieces of a car using image processing. Another system can evaluate the fatigue level or productivity of workers from video cameras. Another use case is intelligent tools for construction sites. Here are a few interesting slides related to AI:

The next speaker was Michael Eagleton and is presentation was called “Together we build prosperity”. He is now living in Shenzhen and involved in several business including his own Shenzhen Xinshunao Co. Ltd. He first talked about what is big data, and how internet is important in our daily lives. He has shown statistics indicating that 97.2% of organizations are investing in AI and big data, but it is not clear if these statistics are from China, USA or other places. He indicated that according to Wikibon the big data and analytics market is worth 49 billion $. Moreover, he shown statistics from Statista indicating that the big market is expected to grow by 20 %. He also cited Forbes/IBM, which says that data science and analytics jobs will reach 2.7 million by 2020 for the world, and that there is a gap between offer and demand, and more talents are needed on the job market. According to Domo, every person will generate 1.7 MB of data per second in 2020. He mentioned that automated analytics will be crucial in the future, and that all countries should collaborate to build the future.

The next speaker was Philip Beck and his talk was “Expand your business with Big Data”. He is an “angel investor”, who has worked a lot on marketing, and who has been living in China for more than a decade. He mentioned that for a business, some customers are more valuable (e.g. spend more money) than others, and that with big data, we can understand what characterize the most valuable customers. He mentioned how mobile payment systems like Alipay and Wechat Pay are widely used in China, and that the data collected from these systems can be used for marketing (e.g. sending targeted advertisements to some specific customers).

The next speaker was David Kovacs, director of CDSI Startup Campus Global. He first mentioned the strong relations between China and Europe. He also mention that the regulations and technology in China are suitable for innovation, and there are a lot of support from the government.

Then, there was a talk by Marian Danko founder and CEO of weHustle and TECOM Conf Startup Grind. This latter company provides a platform to connect entrepreneurs to share knowledge, experience and support each other. They also organize events for entrepreneurs to meet others.

The next speaker was Rasmus Rasmusson, Founder and CEO of VARM. They are working on a machine for people who can’t cook. It can steam, cook, fries, etc., and it is very precise and can cook many types of food. The goal is to Let the user buy a pack of food and press a single button to cook it. The machine would download a cooking program from the cloud to know how to cook the food perfectly. He mentioned that the machine can collect a lot of data about users such as what they eat and when.

The next speaker is Yoann Delwarde about turning buzzwords such as AI and big data.into business. He has a software company named Bassetti. He mentioned that 50 to 90 percent of startups fail within five years because the lack of market need or they run out of funding. He gave various advices for startups to succeed.

The last speaker was Adam Rush. He talked about opportunities from the Belt and road program, and has shown various statistics.

Banquet

In the evening there was a nice banquet at the 29th floor of the Novotel.

About the rapid growth of Guiyang

Here are some interesting facts about the growth of Guiyang (pictures from the Guiyang Today newspaper).

and it is interesting to see goals for the growth of the city for the next 15 years, announced during the Fifth plenary session of the tenth Guiyang Municipal Committee of the CPC:

Conclusion

In this blog post, I have talked about the CIBD2019 expo. It was a great event! Hope you have enjoyed reading about it!  If you have comments, please share them in the comment section below. I will be happy to read them.


Philippe Fournier-Viger is a full professor working in China and founder of the SPMF open source data mining software.

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