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When talking about smart cities, we almost always forget to analyze the groundwork that must be laid before the innovation process of cities can actually start happening.

Smart Cities

In 30 years from now, we are going to talk about mega-cities. In fact, every city in the World is going to double in size, bringing us from roughly 40% to 70% coverage of urban areas. Of course, such an increase in population density is going to need to be proportional to the increase in efficiency, meaning that we need to build new infrastructure in order to support governance and the economy itself.

Three main pillars must be put in place as a first step to laying the foundation for the progress of the 21st century, which will inevitably lead to a new lifestyle paradigm based on the concept of decentralization: identity, ownership and tradability. In particular:

Identity (citizenship)

We need to have a self-sovereign identity, meaning that each one of us needs to have the power tools to creates his/her own identity and is in charge of it, while reputation is given by the validation that is received from the others in the wider community. It is going to be more and more important to have one single, real, digital identity that cannot be changed, like any digital identity as we know it today, and that is not assigned by the government.


If everything is going to be tokenized, then citizens need to be able to own anything through such tokens. For example, having the token to a proprietary house is proof of the ownership of the house and knowing the private key to that token will be the future equivalent of storing the door keys to it. No to mention, ownership means that we are also going to have to understand how we can transfer such rights on goods and services, which brings us to the third and last pillar of a smart society.

Tradability, or transfer

In today’s World of “paper things” ownership is usually bound up with identity, making it non-tradable, but in the tokenized version of the World it will be possible to separate the two aspects of identity and ownership, thus offering the possibility to free up liquidity in the market, when KYC is not the main prerequisite, making it much more efficient and price-driven.

One common misconception, which especially the last pillar might inspire, is that all smart cities of the future are going to have their own local coins, but, not only is that not going to happen, above all it should not happen; an economy has to have a certain scale, not too large like the Eurozone, and must represent a single culture, in order to ensure reciprocity and market connectivity among all geographical components comprised in such economic area.

Nonetheless, there may be some specialized coins in the World, like a philanthropic or eco-sustainable coin, but most currencies are going to be regional and we must learn how to manage these money supplies, which is something that we have not proved to be good at in past issuances of cryptocurrencies. The main concern is the oscillation from inflation to deflation, which might wipe the coin out if it doesn’t have something that stabilizes it, and that is exactly why non-collateralized stablecoins are seen as the best solution.

In fact, Bitcoin is never going to be used for payments and nor is Ether, since having a fixed supply will inevitably cause the value of the currency to be extremely dependent on demand forces and thus be volatile; whereas non-collateralized stablecoins can be programmed to have elastic supplies managed algorithmically by a software instead of central banks, dilating the time span from one cyclical recession to the other or maybe drastically changing the cyclical pattern itself.

Another crucial topic related to smart cities is that of personal data in relation to decentralization. Decentralization is mainly based on the idea that each person should own the respective personal data – – yes, you should own your personal data instead of Microsoft and drug companies. Blockchain will be the means through which the citizens can collect and hold personal data, whether it be medical data, educational history or financial data all.

Blockchain will make it easy to just walk into a new doctor’s office because all that is going to be needed is the patient’s phone, which, if allowed by the owner through a private key, will automatically transfer to this new doctor the records of where the patient has been cured before, how and for what kinds of condition.

Of course, there are a lot of legal frameworks working against this scenario of self-sovereignty and a lot of risks as well that still need to be addressed, like that of data forks, but technology does not seem to be hindered. The main goal is that to achieve a situation in which the offer of services to the citizens is going to be personalized and the delivery of such services as efficient as ever, thanks to the direct access that each citizen may want to grant to their personal “data lockers”.

What about voting, you may ask? In the era of smart cities, the government should start recognizing the ownership of tokens as giving us citizens’ rights, among which voting is one of the most important. Blockchain is going to impact and change the governance. For example, once elections are over, the funds and the budgets may be locked up in a smart contract and only released when there is proof that the representatives are actually doing what they have promised.

Such system will let people express their wishes and then just let the software execute those wishes by moving money or by moving the levers of power to allow things to happen; we could have less representation and more active participation by the citizens. This was actually included in cutting-edge research on how society could run itself using market forces, auctions and incentive games, rather than the judgment of experts and elected City Council members.

Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things are going to be integrated into the Blockchain infrastructure of the ideal smart city of the future. Everyone is already talking about driverless cars and drones, but one must appreciate the fact that having information about any “thing” that we use and having mesh networks of such information continuously flowing will really benefit society – and not just because we will automatically be notified when our refrigerator is out of cheese!

The buying and selling of real estate could become as easy as swapping tokens on the marketplace through a phone application. The same may happen with commodities, like diamonds. Diamonds are interesting because they are unique and non-fungible, meaning that two diamonds may even have the same weight and the same cut but are still not interchangeable because they have diverse quarks.

We all know that the market of diamonds can be quite deceiving, but, if every diamond is tokenized, then every diamond everywhere could be visible on the Internet and a potential buyer could use semantic search to locate the ones that are closer to what they are exactly looking for and compare prices in real time, eliminating arbitrage.

Semantic search happens whenever we can tag a product or service with its proper identifiers, levelling out the metadata that describes it and locate on a map everything that corresponds to our specific desires. Of course, this new way of managing the markets, made possible by the integration of the most disruptive technologies, restricts the manipulation of prices and, through a token economy, incentivizes positive behaviours. Long story short, markets may start looking like a real-life playing field dominated by game theory rules.

Being that these are the prerequisites, it must finally be emphasized that smart cities, like any other type of city, will have to guarantee to the citizen and to all the stakeholders involved in their ecosystem the cross operation of a wide variety of services, which in turn must be performed in a “smart” way. In the upcoming articles, every aspect of this innovative urban structure will be analyzed in detail.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Jordan Hussain

Quelle/Source: Irish Tech News, 06.06.2019

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