Morning fog in Dubai – picjumbo

How astute are smart cities? Reimagining municipal infrastructure in our digital world

Are legacy governance structures able to produce the results smart cities promise? Christina Bowen and Anish Mohammed elaborate on the future of smart cities and on how they might connect to the Blockchain and decentralized infrastructures.

Cities provide infrastructure and governance to allow millions of people within a specific geographic area to live and work within a multitude of coordinated, civilized patterns. People and things need to move in, out and within the city.  Water needs to arrive; garbage and sewage must go away.  Communications must occur at the right time and reach the right people. Energy must be delivered when and where it is needed, and in a form capable of doing the work being demanded of it.  All this must happen with the minimum possible waste and harmful effects on the environment.  And it must happen safely, at a reasonable price, and equitably.

Cities have striven to meet this challenge for centuries but the complexities that come with population size and diversity, as well as technological and economic change continue to up the ante.  As the UN World Urbanization Prospects report notes:

Over half the world’s population already lives in cities: by 2050, 66% of the world’s population are expected to live in urban areas, with nearly 90% of that increase in Asia and Africa.

Now, it appears possible that technology could serve as an opportunity as well as a challenge, making the job and outcomes of municipal design easier, not more complicated. How could this happen? What makes a city smart? How might our cities apply these new technologies in a way that increases our ability to solve today’s challenges together? And what does that mean for our everyday decisions?