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Blockchain Technology and Smart Cities

by Laura Brewer
5 minutes read

First things first, what is Blockchain?

“The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
-Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016) 

The Blockchain is a machine learning system that can uncover patterns in data. It can also provide solutions to cybersecurity and efficiency issues. By combining this with other technologies such as AI and bots, it will strengthen its power to learn faster and more sufficiently.

What in the world are Smart Cities, then? 

A Smart City is “a designation given to a municipality that incorporates information and communication technologies that provide for the enhancement and enrichment of urban services through the utilization of smart technology.”  

Cities undertaking digital transformations, especially Dubai (which we will learn about later), will be able to address issues related to infrastructure, white-collar crime, cybersecurity, energy consumption, social issues, air pollution, traffic problems, resource consumption and many others.  

So, what do these have to do with each other? 

Smart Cities wouldn’t be what they are without Blockchain technology. By revealing and learning from patterns provided by Blockchain technology, Smart Cities will be able to grow exponentially.  

“According to McKinsey research, the smart city industry is projected to be a $400 billion market by 2020, with 600 cities around the globe expected to generate 60% of the world’s GDP by 2025. A new group is currently working to bring at least 100 cities into a forum with the goal of implementing ‘smart city standards,’ and connecting them with one another for further benefits”. –Andrew Rosso 

The initial cities in the newly launched Smart City Forum are Los Angeles, Atlanta, Bristol, Toronto, Vancouver, U.K., Lisbon, Portugal, Dublin and Ireland. This forum is to help drive the creation and development of Smart Cities worldwide.  

As aforementioned, Dubai is one of the cities undertaking major transformation. Though not listed in The Smart City Forum, it is still considered one of the most digitally progressive cities in the world. The Emirates authorities have a goal of turning Dubai in to the first blockchain-based smart megapolis by 2020. Through the implementation of unmanned trains, automated sensors, flying taxis, solar panels and WiFi benches, quick progress will lead to success.  

As Smart Cities pop up and continually develop, they will have the ability to solve “city problems” such as traffic issues, public transportation, pollution, energy consumption and much more. Even further, these cities will eventually lead to solve social issues such as homelessness, security, political power and others.  Some of these issues are currently being addressed in certain cities using several resources. 

Homelessness hits a lot of cities very hard; approximately 1.56 million people of the U.S. population is homeless. Building a joint database of all shelter guest information could give case managers real-time access to this integrated data. Furthermore, having that data accessible to all other shelters helps track the homeless population, movement in to different parts of the city and get their specific needs catered to in a quick and timely manner no matter where they are located. 

In this day and age, when it comes to security, we can’t be too careful. Smart Cities have been placing IoT devices around to help deliver higher levels of security as well as continue progress of a digitally-enhanced future. With higher numbers of IoT devices, comes higher potential chances for hackers to attack weak areas. By using Blockchain, we have the opportunity to bring connectivity to a large scale without compromising security in the process. IoT devices cannot host a Blockchain, but the system coupled with cryptographic keys can be used to establish an identity for devices. Specific devices can present their security-locked credentials to participate in the IoT environments it is allowed and validated. Adding machine learning algorithms and you have confirmed identities securing the IoT.

We’re all in this together. 

Sharing solutions and insights between municipalities within Smart Cities by using Blockchain technology and AI will dramatically grow and substantially improve the standard of living around the world. “At the end of the day, the internet of things (IoT) is able to enhance our urban lifestyle, providing for the implementation of distributed computing for real-time data analysis and immediate action and response”.

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