Smart Cities and Blockchain: Four Countries Where AI and DLT Exist Hand-in-Hand

Have you ever heard about smart cities where traffic, public services and document circulation are fully automated? The smart city concept integrates big data and the internet of things (IoT) to optimize the efficiency of urban processes and services and connect to residents. One example of this innovation could be light sensors that save electricity and road surveillance costs.

The basis for how automated systems and infrastructure sensors will coordinate their activities and communicate with each other is currently being tested in Dubai, some cities in China and the US.

The future is now

McKinsey analysts predict that by 2020 the number of smart cities will reach 600 worldwide, and 5 years later almost 60 percent of the world’s GDP will be produced in them. Digital technologies could become the engine of economic progress, and blockchain, without a doubt, could be one of them.

Let’s imagine how far we can progress if the following innovative inventions are united. What aspects of a city would be run by IoT and blockchain, say, in ten years? Unmanned cars and trains can run in the cities and control over airspace no longer requires dispatchers. Products do not deteriorate, sellers do not drive up prices, and medical cards do not disappear. Does it sound like a utopia? Not exactly.

It could be surprising to know that somewhere, this ‘smart future’ is being built right now. And it's not just about cryptocurrencies or payment services, but about whole cities with all processes controlled by blockchain. These are the cities of the future, and they are already being created.

United Arab Emirates

Today, Dubai is considered one of the most digitally progressive cities in the world. With unmanned trains, automated sensors, flying taxis, solar panels, and Wi-Fi benches, perhaps it has everything that an avid futurist needs. The authorities of the Emirates are not stopping at what has already been reached and are actively implementing the most innovative ideas in order to turn the city into the first blockchain-based smart megapolis by 2020.

In terms of the number of projects being implemented, including those where blockchain is used by Google, Uber, Amazon, IBM and other corporate giants, Dubai ranks first in the world, thanks to the government-supported Smart City program. The Smart City program, launched in 2014, involves the phased implementation of more than 545 projects that will change the way residents and visitors of Dubai interact with the city. The local authorities plan to create a paperless digital space in the private and public sectors. All document circulation will be conducted in electronic form, and launching a business will become more simplified for citizens.

Pic1

Source image: Thairath.co.th

In particular, a pilot program is being developed to track, ship and deliver imported and exported goods using blockchain technology. The main idea of its integration into the foreign trade of the city is to create a single safe and transparent platform. The implementation of a blockchain system into the urban structure is projected to save about $1.5 billion and 25.1 million man-hours due to increased efficiency in the processing of documents, which is supposed to set government institutions free from queues.

Blockchain will be also applied in logistics and storage. This will help create an entire system of smart unmanned trucks for the transport of products or materials.

Estonia

It would interesting to know that blockchain was used in Estonia before it became mainstream, and even before Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin.

They say that the reason for such progress was the cyber attack of 2007, when — at one point — the websites of state services and the government went offline because of heavy DDoS attacks. This caused Estonia to reconsider its attitude toward data security and reach out to what we are now calling blockchain.

Since 2012, distributed ledgers have been used in Estonia’s national health, judicial, legislative, security and commercial systems. The technology has already gone beyond the scope of experimentation and has reached mass adoption. In particular, the Estonian government has introduced blockchain to provide its citizens access to control their personal data. Due to this, Estonians can control, view and, if necessary, challenge illegal access to their information. Moreover, from now on, citizens have the opportunity to check medical specialists or civil servants who looked through their medical card, insurance or driver's license. Any official who accesses personal data without permission can be prosecuted.

The government seems to be sensitive to its citizens data security and integrity. Perhaps it’s one of the remedies the value of which is hard to underestimate, not only in terms of comfort, but also in terms of preventing irreparable consequences, such as the tragedy in Haiti in 2010, when an earthquake destroyed the archives containing land records, leaving residents having to challenge their real estate ownership.

Pic2

Source image: Quedeus

China

Chinese authorities plan to create 1000 smart cities, where technologies and data collected should improve the lives of every resident, Deloitte reports. In January 2013, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development formally announced the first list of national pilot Smart Cities, referring to this technology as a “sector that should be strengthened and encouraged.”

The first city of the future is supposed to be Yinchuan, where they have already abandoned traditional payments. Now, instead of tickets, passes and documents, it is enough to simply show one’s face! And no more tiresome shopping — products are ordered through a mobile application.

Despite the negative attitude of the authorities toward cryptocurrency, they still believe in the technology. The country's digitalization strategy, identified in the 13th Five-Year Plan for National Informatization in December 2016, states:

The Internet, cloud computing, large data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain… will drive the evolution of everything — digital, network and intelligent services will be everywhere.

In April 2017, the Wuzhen Think Tank released a white paper on the development of China’s blockchain industry. The paper introduced global and domestic blockchain-industry trends and provided valuable knowledge for research entities and related e