Smart Cities, 4IR, AI, Blockchain, IoT the Heartbeat of the XXI Century

Smart Cities, 4IR, AI, Blockchain, IoT the Heartbeat of the XXI Century
Smart Cities, 4IR, AI, Blockchain, IoT the Heartbeat of the XXI Century

Men come together in cities in order to live: 

they remain together in order to live the good life.

— Aristotle

“What is the city but the people?”

— William Shakespeare

“Urbanization, one of humankind’s most successful and ambitious programs, is the triumph of the unnatural over the natural, the grid over the organic… Underway on a scale never before witnessed, one side effect of urbanization is the liberation of vast depopulated territories for the efficient production of ‘nature’.” 

— Bruce M

“A smart city is an intelligent town that provides enormous possibilities for human growth through art, culture, social, architectural, economic, political, environmental, and scientific flowering with the optimal mix of nature, technology, humanity, and arts.”

― Amit Ray, Peace Bliss Beauty and Truth: Living with Positivity

Cities are all about people’s lives. Big social groups of people living and collaborating together. Whether you are in London, New York, Singapore, Tokyo or Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Barcelona these cities offer the best in the world and are able to serve so many millions of people together because of their adoption of smart technologies which makes them leading smart cities.

Smart Cities are the heart of the beating of the best in the world and in the interstice of all challenges, innovation and concerns. Particularly when it comes to organisation of society, citizens, innovation, technology and data, smart cities are the center of all operations and challenges and opportunities.

Smart cities, like the city states in the past embed the highest hopes of humany through the promise of harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) innovative technologies to improve lives and bring social harmony. However, smart cities represent also and could incarnate the challenges, fears of a dystopian ecosystem of over ‘controlled lives’, making society unfold in some kind of panopticon system,  governed by the emergence and disruption coming out of artificial intelligence, IoT, Blockchain and automated devices coming from the augmented tools and software inherent to digital transformation systems.

Since the 20th century the world is transforming itself into a web  of cities. In a cognitive and increasingly driven by tech era, cities themselves are moving and changing faster than ever. Cities are evolving, ever-changing, and not fixed on a well planned destination. Humanity is at its most important moment of inception and an important point in that evolution, as new forces emerge and combine to create new ways for cities to work and societies to live.

As big data and Social media flourishes in this environment, revolutionizing the way leaders and citizens interact with space, cities will be the biggest challenge and opportunity for the next 100 years. The data driven technologies that drive the smarter city must be rightly managed and secure, to safely fuel unhindered progress.

As national governments increasingly focus on national issues, cities are at the forefront of all human activities and must take greater advantage of the most advanced technologies to update service delivery. New possibilities and business models target the creation of radical new efficiencies, sustainable solutions for long-standing challenges.

Cognitive computing, blockchain technology solutions and artificial intelligence in particular and its capacity for building citizen engagement, identity and sustainable models of circular economic values, introduces fresh opportunities for government organizations to improve citizens’ lives and the business environment, deliver personalized experiences, and optimize program and service outcomes.

The choices we need to make today are multiple and mostly about what makes a smart city empower our lives and make them matter for multiple reasons. The challenging momentum of technological innovation will continue, and in the next decades will be bigger than in all history of humanity. So the way we plan, manage and architect smart cities has to be done in a way to increase in the near future, giving us new ways to address pending global challenges, in areas such as social inclusion, climate change, inequalities, health or education.

On the other hand, the majority of the human race leaves in societies and these individuals whose lives will depend on such choices will be city dwellers. Yet, for city leaders, investors, and citizens, such choices often remain difficult to make because they are complex, and often rely on imperfect or asymmetrical information. Real estate tactics have often prevailed over transport, energy or waste management concerns. Quality of life seldom received priority over urbanistic, architectural or technological ambitions. And efficiency sometimes eclipses social harmony.

In all avenues of human challenging life, it remains extremely difficult to improve without thinking inclusively and empowering both humans, nature and find a fine tuned balance that can be in some kind of way, measured. It is hence no surprise that so many ‘smart city indices’ have blossomed over the past few years. The main reason is simple: the quasi-totality of existing indices remains technology-centric.  But lots of work needs to be done to build the right basis of smart cities balance solutions.

There are a lot of examples of the ways smart cities are creating new jobs and solutions and much more is happening. The city of Barcelona for example is a prime example where the implementation of smart city IoT systems created an estimated 47,000 jobs, saved €42.5 million on water, and generated an extra €36.5 million a year through smart parking alone. We can easily see that many other cities in the world can benefit tremendously from the technological advances that utilize 4IR technologies, AI-blockchain powered IoT solutions. These technological solutions are now helping connect cities, societies, creating new efficiencies and manage multiple infrastructure, and public services.

Building smart cities is the critical job for countries, societies and it is not a one-day business. This should be the main focus of nations and cities governments and it is a collective work that requires a lot of work between different players. It the work of one person or organization but the work of an entire society all tribes that make cities.

Smart cities require planning and special strategy and efforts from all areas of society and economy. Smart cities requires the collaboration of many strategic partners, leaders, and special citizens and their government.

Bellow some examples of how 4IR technologies special AI, blockchain, IoT can change and improve a city and its requirements:

  1. A strategy and social economic and legal frame from government approved by citizens.
  2. A collaboration between all players: lawmakers, government organisations, universities, schools, companies and businesses, all citizens major groups represented.
  3. Align a strategy and goals on how to achieve clear results based on clear budgeting, using reward systems, digital assets solutions, environmental focus systems and capacities to deliver on ambition and needs.
  4. A set of aligned data and technology infrastructure alignment combining supply chain and identity with blockchain technology and IOT sensors to aggregate systems and data that will managed and expanded by AI tech.
  5. Create solutions within the requirements and needs of the city and geographical and development stages.
  6. A network of smart technology things (sensors, cameras, actuators, and so on) for gathering data and managing it.
  7. Field (cloud computing) gateways that can gather the data from low power IoT devices, store it, and forward it securely to the cloud.
  8. Streaming data processors for aggregating numerous data streams and distributing them to a data lake and control applications and integrating with AI machine learning systems.
  9. A data lake for storing all the raw data, even the ones that seem of no value yet and data management systems to understand optimisations and solutions.
  10. A data warehouse that can clean and structure the collected data and integrate with AI Machine learning.
  11. Tools for analyzing and visualizing the data collected by sensors
  12. AI algorithms and techniques for automating city services based on long-term data analysis and finding ways to improve the performance of control applications
  13. User applications for connecting smart things and citizens

Besides this, there will be issues regarding clear set up on data and identity, security and privacy, and the choice of the right service providers will have to ensure that these smart technologies, devices and services do not pose any threat to citizens’ wellbeing. The solutions should be aligned with a strategy that is people first and focusing on creating services themselves that should be easy to use and employ, so that citizens can adopt them and create empowering development.

4IR Blockchain and AI in particular, are changing the way cities operate, deliver, and maintain social, cultural and public amenities, from structure, urban planning, lighting and transportation to connectivity and health services. However, the adoption smart cities infrastructure has a long way to go and can be obstructed by the selection of strategies that doesn’t efficiently work together or integrate with other social, economic and cultural city services. For cities to truly benefit from the potential that smart cities offer, a change in mindset is required. The authorities should plan longer and across multiple departments. We can easily see that cities can benefit tremendously from the technological advances but work has to be done between investors, entrepreneurs, startups, corporations, universities, governments and international organisations. Smart Cities are the heartbeat of the 21st century. The focus should be on how to use it as a way to solve humanity challenges.