Cities of the future
Andrew Rossow, a legal expert, and author sees blockchain smart city solutions as important. Andrew wrote about 21st-century cities in a Forbes article. He notes how cities need to be smart, besides, how the blockchain technology can play its’ part here.
The importance of cities is self-evident. However, their importance is set to increase. A Tech Republic article quotes McKinsey Research to state that 600 cities will produce 60% of the worlds’ GDP by 2025. That’s not easy though. Cities need to optimize the productivity of its’ residents. This, in turn, requires urban service delivery to improve so that residents can focus on creating wealth and opportunities. That’s not easy with cities growing unwieldy every day in many countries. The efficiency of urban service delivery is a function of many factors. Commuters need better insights into traffic. Besides, optimal resource consumption is important. Water resources and electricity are costly. Cities need to eliminate their wastage. Communication facilities need to be excellent. In other words, we need ‘Smart cities.’
What is a smart city? While experts differ on the exact definition, we can arrive at a broad meaning of the term. A city using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve the quality of life of residents’ is a smart city. Such a city could measure the demand for water resources using IoT sensors. The city can match the supply thereby maintaining an equilibrium. A smart city can manage electricity demand and supply similarly. Monitoring of traffic lights with IoT sensors will generate traffic data. The city can employ analytics thereby manage traffic effectively. Businesses can track the lifecycle of food products using technology and eliminate food contaminations.
In Aid of Smart Cities
Experts are already working on making smart cities a reality. Andrew cites an initiative of TM Forum, a global industry association. They have formed the Smart City Forum, a working group that includes cities like Vancouver, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and a few more. Digital technologies are priority areas for the group.
IoT is a powerful technology. Still, all communications between devices are over the Internet. Hackers are always targeting the Internet, making such connections vulnerable. Imagine a smart energy grid shut down because of hackers intercepting IoT communication! IoT needs security to realize its’ potential. The blockchain technology with its’ tamper-proofing can help. IOTA Foundation has already developed the distributed ledger technology suited to IoT. For example, they have a partnership with Volkswagen hence drivers will benefit from the vehicle data that IoT sensors track. Traffic management in a smart city can benefit from these two technologies.
Blockchains‘ decentralization and immutability will also help in accurately recording energy demand. As World Economic Forum notes, the technology can help in achieving demand-supply equilibrium. Water resource management can also similarly benefit from IoT and blockchain. Supply chain management is a key area where blockchain smart city solutions can help. Supply chain tracking has emerged as a potent blockchain use case, be it diamonds or food. The technology can reduce wastage which automatically improves productivity.
Andrew is upbeat about blockchain smart city solutions however he also recognizes the challenges. He cites Bitcoins’ high energy demand and scalability issues as examples. He recognizes that the technology is still new hence it needs work. On that count, it’s good to note that stakeholders are exploring solutions. Sonys’ effort to build efficient hardware for crypto mining is an example.