When we say cities, the first thing that probably pops in your head is congestion. This has become especially true of urbanization in Asia that attracts more and more people with each passing year. While city planners are doing their very best to accommodate the ever-increasing population, there is only so much strain that a city’s infrastructure can take. What could then be a possible solution?
A booming economy is always a good sign for a nation and its people. But not so for the cities. Because of accelerated GDP growth, especially in South East Asia, the countryside is emptying out with the population pooling into cities. The curious case of Iskander presents a perfect example of the rapid growth story.
Iskander is a southern region of Malaysia, bordering Singapore, which includes the bustling hub of Johor Bahru. The population of the region currently stands at 1.65 million. Over the next five years, the number is set to double, thanks to Iskander’s economic progress. Will the city landscape be able to sustain the new wave of people?
The answer, in a word, is yes.
Being developed on the Hangzhou riverfront, the 8.3 sq km property will strike the fine balance between development, ecology, and technology. Blockchain is leading the way with PlatON implementing it to interconnect citizens to the city itself.
“Imagine a smart transit system that tracks and rewards responsible driving behavior, or a renewable power grid that incentivizes energy generation and trading, or even a myriad of urban services that can be validated, built, and offered at ease without the constraints of rigid data silos,” believes Wang, the founder of Wanxiang.
On the role of bitcoin technology, it “can ensure the privacy of sensitive data including digital identities of residents, smart equipment, and personal devices, as they interact with one another on a shared ledger,” according to PlatON CSO Ada Xiao.
The focus here is on sustainability. The Wanxiang smart city is being built on the premise that with an intrinsic database that is shared by everyone, the effect a population has on an urban landscape can be better managed. To that extent, the founder of the project plans to pump in nearly $30 million dollars to launch eco-sensitive measures and to encourage renewable energy solutions.
According to Tony Cripps, CEO HSBC Singapore, “Smart technologies that can make city transportation, urban energy usage, building and waste management systems, and even healthcare more efficient (and therefore cleaner and more sustainable) will help alleviate the challenges that accompany the rapid expansion of towns and cities across Asia – from Johor Baru to Hanoi.”
The Wanxiang smart city is the first step, albeit in the right direction, to integrate the various aspects of urbanization into a seamless digital network that can be accessed by each and every citizen. The data which results from how people in an urban area interact and behave in their surroundings becomes valuable information to city planners.
There is no doubt the future of our cities is a ‘smart’ one.
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