If we turn back the clock to 1975, there were only 3 megacities in the form of New York, Tokyo, and Mexico City. Fast forward to 2019, there are more than 21 megacities home to more than 10 million people. Amid rapid global urbanization with 3.6 billion urban dwellers growing at a rate of 1.3 million a week, the
comes into the picture as a model blueprint for future urban development.
A smart city is one which uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the delivery of public services, thereby elevating the quality of life of its residents. With 55% of the global population residing in cities, whereby this figure is projected to increase to 68% by 2050, it is imperative that urban planners start actively exploring possible solutions to the issues faced by urban dwellers before these issues snowball into a full-blown existential crisis. Blockchain, with its diverse potentialities, may be just the tool to facilitate the transformation of the smart city dream into an urban living reality.
It is interesting to note that more than 60% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to come from smart cities by 2025. Accordingly, countries seeking to propel themselves forward in the global GDP race are establishing platforms for technological infrastructure development in their respective jurisdictions. The development of smart cities necessitates the establishment of a network of interconnectivity between the various blockchain industry uses, which, for the most part, currently operate in silos. In Southeast Asia (SEA), Singapore leads the region in terms of technological readiness for smart city development, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
The current trend in blockchain development for smart city initiatives is focused on resolving urbanization-related issues. For example, the blockchain-based Power Ledger use case provides a platform for the trading of renewable assets, namely energy and water, in return for fiat-exchangeable POWR tokens. Besides peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading, other blockchain-related areas which support the development of smart cities include e-government and decentralized identity management systems. Real-life examples include the e-Estonia system and the Civic project, respectively.
As for government-based smart city initiatives, Dubai leads the way with its Dubai Smart City 2021 Roadmap, which envisages that 50% of government transactions at the federal level will be carried out using blockchain by 2020. In terms of scale, India trumps the rest with its Smart Cities Mission, under which it aims to carry out an urban renewal program by turning 100 cities in the country into smart cities that are citizen-friendly and environmentally sustainable.
In SEA, the city-state of Singapore aims to be a Smart Nation by focussing on the three key pillars of Digital Economy, Digital Government, and Digital Society. Across the Straits of Johor, Malaysia has the backing of economic powerhouse China to develop its blockchain-based Melaka Straits City, whereby the entire infrastructure of the futuristic smart city will operate using the Distributed Market Infrastructure (DMI) platform.
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