The cities have always been considered as the defining feature of every human civilization. Modern cities have evolved incredibly over the centuries. In contrast to the ancient cities, we can see how far we have come as a civilization. Technology has always been acted as the biggest catalyst in this evolution.
But have you ever thought about the future of our cities? We have many problems ahead of us such as rocketing global population and climate change. Will we able to overcome these issues? Would it be chaotic or prosperous?
Many experts present the idea of the smart city as the ultimate solution for this. The ‘smart city’ concept stands on the idea of leveraging information and communication technologies to improve economic growth, environmental sustainability, and general livability.
How Did The Smart City Concept Originate?
The world population is exploding like never before. According to the UN, the global population will exceed 10 billion by 2050 and there will be more people in cities than the countryside by that time. Considering the recent climate change situation, these numbers are only going to be higher than the current estimations.
As the number of city inhabitants increases, it gets harder to accommodate and fulfill their needs such as the provision of shelter, food, water, electricity, health, education, jobs, transportation, etc. if these are not handled well, our cities would be like those post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk civilizations that science fiction warned us about.
That’s when the idea of smart cities came to life. Smart cities aim to enhance the quality of the lives of residents and businesses through the integration of technology. Smart cities are designed to strengthen all the components of city infrastructure to be immune to inevitable crises.
The Main Pillars Of Smart City
- Smart Governance
- Smart Economy
- Smart Mobility
- Smart Environment
- Smart People
- Smart Living
The smart city will enrich economic growth, improve the lifestyle of its citizens, streamline urban development, follow eco-sustainability practices, improve governance and provide access to advanced financial services.
The right technology infrastructure will affect the way cities are created and enhanced. It will enable smart cities to include vastly enhanced sustainable areas such as smart buildings, smart environments, smart supply chain management, health, energy, human resources, and so on to keep the livelihoods of the city dwellers intact at all times.
So question leads to which technology can facilitate the concept of the smart city come to practice. That’s where blockchain technology enters the scene.
The Role Of Blockchain Smart City Development
Blockchain is capable of perfectly balancing all the pillars of city infrastructure securely and transparently to ensure overall stability and sustainability. Decentralization is the heart of blockchain. It gives the control and power back to the people. That way it ensures a stable and corruption-free environment to make our cities as efficient as possible.
So before we get into that, let’s see some of the components of blockchain technology and how they can be effective in smart city infrastructure.
- Decentralization – Blockchain connects users and vendors directly without the need for a central authority
- Transparency – All individual users get to access all transaction records and data passage in a transparent way
- Security – Since information is stored in interlinked blocks, it’s impossible to alter the data without being detected.
- Stability – Information is recorded using digital signatures. And it requires strict verification procedures.
- Democracy – Consensus mechanism determines the ordering of transactions in an adversarial environment (i.e., assuming not every participant is honest)
These qualities make blockchain a perfect candidate to ensure data integrity, security, efficiency, and transparency in all components of the city infrastructure such as Governance, supply chains, healthcare, environment, education, finance, etc.
The Application Of Blockchain in Smart Cities
The applications of Blockchain in the smart city arena are endless. We can effectively execute Blockchain in all the main components of the smart city in different ways to ensure overall efficiency. Let’s see some of such areas in smart city development.
Blockchain can facilitate better governance using smart contracts in different components of the governance structure. For example, Blockchain can be used to support the provision of public needs to citizens and stakeholders. Blockchain can also be effectively implemented to conduct transparent and corruption-free elections, automation of bureaucratic processes, tax systems, tracking ownership of assets and so on.
Due to the increased smartphone penetration and vigorous mobile app development, we never seem to stay offline. Almost all of our payments are online. That also puts us in vulnerable positions when it comes to cybersecurity. But due to the decentralized nature of Blockchain, it follows peer to peer data passage. That way it’s impossible for hackers to locate and track that information.
Seamless Supply Chain Management
By virtue of smart contracts and decentralization, blockchain can streamline the process of resource exchange and supply chain management. Since there is no middleman between users and vendors, we can ensure that the items don’t get lost along the way and everyone gets what they are offered. From the food and agriculture industry to logistics and others – blockchain can establish better transparency between the suppliers and consumers.
World Economic Forum issued the Building Block(chains) for a Better Planet report, that recognized 65 existing and emerging applications of blockchain that could repair some of the world’s global environmental challenges. Automatic disaster preparedness, humanitarian relief and earth-management platforms like blockchain-enabled geospatial platforms are already being explored. Blockchain also can track carbon footprints of appliances, vehicles, and machines and find ways to improve the situation to defy climate change.
There are many records that need to be collected and verified in an education domain. These records include student records, faculty records, certifications, etc. blockchain’s use of digital signatures can determine the provenance and authenticity of these records. Blockchain can simplify the certificate attestation process as well.
Storing and authenticating patient data is a vital task in healthcare organizations. Blockchain helps to securely store and access to ensure efficient diagnosis. Patients can access their medical report and results and hand them over to different hospitals that may not have such reports of patients. The transparency of these records also enables patients to claim insurance seamlessly.
Blockchain-enabled identity detection can be effectively implemented in managing passports, election ID cards, social security cards, birth and wedding certificates, etc. by employing digital signatures in blockchain we can completely tackle identity theft and other illegal activities.
Although the idea of a smart city sounds good on paper, implementing that in the right way is a hard task. But blockchain technology can simplify smart city development by streamlining all of its components. Many countries and regions like Sweden, Dubai, Estonia, India, Singapore, the US, etc have already started implementing smart city developments. So considering overpopulation and climate change concerns, it’s about time for all countries to get on board with blockchain-enabled smart city developments.