JD.com has launched a big data-powered service to give social credit scores to individuals, businesses and potential investors for local governments in China, as the e-commerce company ventures further into the smart cities space. Unveiling a new brand, JD iCity, the Beijing-based company said on Thursday that it wants to double down on the intelligent city business by providing big data and artificial intelligence-powered tools to local governments. The services can be used to build social credit databases, AI-powered traffic infrastructure and other smart transport services. By gathering, sorting and analysing a vast pool of data, including that generated by the 300 million active JD.com shoppers, the company’s logistic arm and fintech business, JD iCity will be able to improve the daily lives of urban dwellers and improve the efficiency of city governance, said Zheng Yu, vice-president of JD.com in a statement. The move comes amid Beijing’s call for deeper integration between AI and the real economy. Riding the wave of building a data-driven smart economy, Chinese authorities are also looking to use hi-tech technologies in social management. China’s social credit horrifies the West. But do the Chinese even notice? One of the latest, controversial areas in China is the building of a social credit system which will use a mix of carrots and sticks to prod people and businesses to abide by rules and to promote integrity and trustworthiness in society at large. However, such a system will depend on the collection of a vast array of data on the personal behaviour and lifestyle choices of individuals. According to an official blueprint released in 2014, a national social credit system will be rolled out by 2020 to “allow the trustworthy to benefit wherever they go while making it difficult for the discredited to take a single step”. In Suqian city, Jiangsu province – the hometown of JD.com founder and chief executive Richard Liu Qiangdong – the company has already built a social credit system for the city’s residents and businesses. “By integrating the data from JD platforms and the data from local government, we have made Suqian a model project for our credit product,” said Zheng. Rather than giving each Suqian resident a single unified credit score, JD.com adopts AI technology to evaluate a person’s credibility based on different application scenarios. Xiaomi steps up AI emphasis in new reshuffle “For example, if a person only wants to rent a bike, we don’t take the information of whether or not he is property owner into consideration. But if he wants to get a loan, that information would be important for his credit evaluation,” he said, adding that Suqian residents use their credit scores for a variety of services. According to Zheng, social credit scores can also alert governments to the risks of some local businesses potentially violating regulations and can help with vetting potential investors. Apart from Suqian, JD.com also partners with governments in Chengdu and Changsha in social credit projects. Aside from social credit, JD.com also offers intelligent city solutions, such as AI-powered smart parking and energy saving.