The Smart City Revolution In The Era Of AI, Blockchain And Big Data

By Dinis Guarda - Mar 25, 2020
The Smart City Revolution In The Era Of AI, Blockchain And Big Data

“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

More than half of the world population live in cities, and a total of 6 billion people is expected to do that by 2045. Cities in both developed and developing countries face a common challenge: how to use digital technologies to respond to citizens’ demands for better quality living environments in a more efficient and dynamic manner, and create more efficient commercial environments.

Government bodies face the urgency to adapt all new 4IR technologies at the service of their cities. And that is a massive task given the complexity of the current digital world. All these technologies have to work together to maximize the impact as well as position the cities at the forefront of the technology race.

But building a smart city of the future requires a joint effort across multiple entities and work towards the same objective. Cities aren’t perennial objects but a rather organic entity: they breath and evolve over time. The “smart” part of a city would mean to build a “nervous system” based on Big Data, AI, IoT, Cloud computing, 5G and all the other 4IR tech to make those cities to perceive, think, self-learn and grow.

That, at least, is how Yu Dong, President of the Industry Marketing and Solution Department of Huawei Enterprise Business Group describes these cities. "Huawei believes the primary driver of Smart City development is to offer more benefits and higher efficiency to citizens and businesses. Huawei regards a city as an organic being and strives to build the city nervous system that will enable the city to perceive, think, self-learn and grow. 

We have consolidated the core elements required for smart city development to build our Digital Platform, which can aggregate the diverse resources of the city and connect all facilities and city applications to make efficient use of the data available. Artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities have been added to Huawei’s Digital Platform following the announcement of our full-stack, all-scenario AI solution, and this will dramatically accelerate innovation for smart city development. Global smart city construction signals the advent of a platform-based era. Huawei will continue to build digital platforms to help more smart cities achieve true digitalization," Yu Dong recently said.

How 4IR technologies, including AI, blockchain, IoT, can change and improve cities

By rethinking the purpose of public services and how they function, urban planners are bringing outdated services into the 21st century. These initiatives work in many ways, including providing all citizens with broadband Internet, utilizing energy resources wisely, optimizing traffic flow, revitalizing neighborhoods, streamlining waste removal and even organizing parking spaces in busy areas.

These ideas are spreading rapidly, as more cities and towns feel compelled to improve their infrastructure. According to a 2014 report from IHS, there will be at least 88 smart cities across the globe by 2025, a sharp spike from just 21 in 2013. Investment in smart civic projects, which reached just over $1 billion in 2013, will soar past $12 billion through 2025.

Smart Cities abc

Here are some examples of how 4IR technologies, including AI, blockchain, IoT, can change and improve cities:

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 be 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.

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 all these cities are able to serve so many millions of people together because of their adoption of smart technologies which makes them leading smart cities.

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