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E-commerce Firms, Driverless Vehicles Aid Shanghai Amid Lockdown

With over 23 million residents, Shanghai is China’s most populous city and, indeed, is seen as one of the world’s most influential cities. However, that immense population places it in jeopardy as the virus continues to doggedly spread locally. The good news is that online-based businesses are coming to the rescue delivering needed goods in these most trying times and deploying the latest in digital technology.

E-commerce companies and delivery firms are upping the ante in replenishing stocks and expanding courier fleet in Shanghai as the city strives to make daily necessities more accessible to residents living under a coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Accordingly, a series of contingency measures have been put in place to ensure provision and supply chain under the premise of prevention and control of the virus. This is following the instructions of Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan during her inspection visit to Shanghai.

For instance, a local online services platform which normally delivers orders has dispatched additional 2,800 couriers in Shanghai to expedite delivery, said Senior Vice-President Xiao Shuixian during a recent regular media briefing on the updates of the situation. The company’s executive disclosed that their platform now supports community-based group purchasing, covering 1,000 neighbourhoods citywide, to meet the bulk-buying needs. By doing so, they enhance efficiency.

They have more than doubled daily orders in the past several days. Over 25,000 households have benefited from the service in obtaining necessities such as meat, eggs and dairy, said an executive of an online delivery firm.

An e-commerce giant is experiencing a similar spike in orders. However, it’s taking a more humanitarian approach by donating. It has donated fresh produce such as milk, meat and pastries worth 4 million yuan (US$ 628,700) to address the demand in Shanghai. Some 16 million units of rice, flour, and cooking oil are in place via the platform to ensure daily supplies for a month.

Priorities will be given to fresh produces provisions, as well as meat and seafood. The company will also replenish some 80,000 infant and maternal goods as well as 100,000 drugs to meet the needs of patients with chronic illnesses, a company leader pointed out.

The company is also fortifying its delivery arm to meet the fast-rising demand. To smoothen delivery, it is deploying 2,000 more couriers and will put to use “fifth-generation driverless vehicles” to accelerate delivery while minimising physical contacts.

These efforts are in answer to Vice Premier Sun’s calls of maintaining “a sense of urgency” to ensure a stable and smooth supply chain. Key levers will be to iron out logistics blockages during transportation and delivery and allow more enterprises and personnel offering basic supplies to resume business.

Accordingly, local authorities said Shanghai will be subdivided into three zones based on the latest COVID test results exposure risks-namely precautionary zone, controlled zone and lockdown zone.

Once again, digital technology has shown how much transformation it can inject into a crisis. By speeding up services, digital is giving people a better chance of fighting a global pandemic. This is also a testament to China’s unwavering commitment to driving its digital adoption forward. China’s growing economy is making it necessary for more Big Data investments all over the country.

Beijing looking for comprehensive and inclusive development and is looking to ensure its less-developed Western front gets the attention it needs. Plus, digital technology is also helping those other Chinese cities that are now in the new normal as reported on OpenGov Asia.


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