Blockchain will help to secure cities that rely on big data collection, according to stories. Graphic credit:

Smart Cities Growing with Blockchain Power

An analysis in CoinTelegraph, a cryptocurrency trade magazine, explores how blockchain is being used to advance “Smart Cities,” where technology runs systems automatically, like lights sensors that save electricity and infrastructure sensors on roads.  Numerous projects are already tested or adopted in Dubai, the United States, China and Europe, specifically Estonia.

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, with blockchain a central aspect.

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. The authorities of the Emirates are seeking to turn the city into the first blockchain-based smart megapolis by 2020.

Dubai is developing a system to track, ship and deliver imported and exported goods using blockchain technology to create a single safe and transparent platform. A blockchain system embedded into the city structure is projected to save about $1.5 billion and 25.1 million man-hours due to increased efficiency in the processing of documents, eliminating lines. Blockchain will be also applied in logistics and storage. This will help create an entire system of smart unmanned trucks to move products or materials.

China plans to create at least 1,000 smart cities which will integrate technologies. Already in Yinchuan, instead of tickets, passes and documents, faces are used as currency. Facial recognition tracks users of public transportation and can expedite shopping on mobile apps. China is  also using this technology to track “undesirables” and punish them. An “undesirable” may just be a bad credit rating, or a traffic ticket or something equally petty.

In the United States, blockchain technology is not just a tool for operating cryptocurrencies or managing databases. The federal government recognized the potential of blockchain in the provision of public services and launched a number of projects currently in different stages of implementation. The state launched the Delaware Blockchain Initiative in 2016 to stimulate the use and development of blockchain technologies and smart contracts in private and public sectors.

According to Michael Winterson, MD of Managed Services at Equinix, in an essay in Open Access Government, a trade publication for governments worldwide, smart cities will make life easier by streamlining daily activities and eliminating bureaucracy. The only drawback is the data required to operate it.

“As places like Songdo (South Korea), Dubai and Singapore demonstrate, we already have the technology to automate vast swathes of daily life. It’s the data that this technology creates – more specifically, concerns around how we keep this data secure – that is hindering the rise of the smart city. It’s in this area that blockchain could provide the breakthrough that we need,” Winterson writes.

Blockchain will be the key to provide the security for the data, Winterson says.

In addition to privacy and security for individuals, blockchain will also protect systems from hackers, says Vaughan Emery, founder and CEO of Atonomi, a blockchain-based arm of CENTRI technology, which provides IoT security, in an essay in

“The threats could lead to lethal chaos — a hacker maliciously tampering with traffic lights; industrial mayhem through hacking of municipal power, water, or sewage systems; financial loss, for example through theft of electrical power; and a spectrum of other vulnerabilities,” Emery writes.

A combination of blockchain technology and precision coding will enable smart cities to avoid such a fate, Emery says.