• Danny J. C.

Smart Everything

By 2025, nearly 70% of the global population will live in urban areas. By 2030, 30+ Mega-Cities will house 9% of the global population, which directly contribute 15% of the world’s GDP, and take up about 3% of global land mass. Led by Tokyo, with estimated 36.57million population by 2030, the urban lifestyle will be the main engine of the global economy, but it will also be the planet’s greatest risk of 'unsustainability'. Pollution, water resources, and social inequalities are just a few of the problems looming on the horizon. Rapid urbanization is one of the major forces shaping our global economic future. To manage infrastructure, transport, healthcare services, education, leisure, safety, etc. new technologies play paramount role.



The concept of the IoT (Internet of Things) was drafted in the 1980s in a Coke vending-machine at Carnegie Mellon University as the worlds first internet-connected machine to check its inventory and if drinks were cold.

Today, we talk about Smart Cities incorporating information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. And, about Blockchain and AI powering cars, drones, robots or agriculture - autonomous things use AI to perform tasks traditionally done by humans. Virtually every application, service and IoT object will incorporate some form of AI to automate or augment processes or human actions.


For now, we will focus on Smart Cities, a smart space in a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Distributed ledgers are emerging tools to enhance IoT, by enabling secure and fast interaction, transitions and transactions between the interconnected 'everything'. Companies can trace a transaction and work with untrusted parties without the need for a centralized party. This greatly reduces business friction and has applications in finance, government, healthcare, manufacturing, supply chain and IoT. Furthermore, Blockchain could potentially lower costs, reduce transaction settlement times and improve cash flow.


By 2020, the smart city industry is projected to be a $400 billion market, with 600 cities worldwide.

The drivers behind the smart city market (besides human main driver - convenience) include some of the most challenging global developments, including the continued growth in urbanization, the need to reduce city emissions and better manage resource consumption. These developments are entangled with rapid technology development in complex ways that present many opportunities for suppliers and cities. The growing adoption of IoT technologies and the decreasing costs of sensors and connectivity services are driving the wider deployment of smart devices. This trend further enriches the data available to users and managers of city services.


Smart cities are implementing technologies for climate monitoring, to collect highly localized air quality information. Each device throughout a city collects air quality measurements that are then sent to a cloud- or Blockchain based application, where it is broken down into analytics for the government and the public to see.


Smart buildings, have all these systems connected through an IoT network, allowing them to communicate with each other and work together to make the building as efficient as possible through continuous adjustments. Sensors can detect when a particular room or office is vacant and dedicate less lighting and temperature resources to that space.


Smart street lighting can reduce energy consumption by staying dim when no cars or people are around, then lighting up as sensors detect someone is coming.


Smart water systems can help improve the sourcing, treatment, and delivery of this essential resource. Through tracking consumption patterns, cities can optimize and reduce water waste as well as delivery costs. Sensors could automatically alert a city to water leaks, measure rainfall and provide real-time flood analysis for flood control.


Smart bins can monitor rates of recycling.


Who is already involved?


Buenos Aires, Argentina used to rely on an inefficient telephone hotline system where citizens had to log a complaint or request for public services, taking response times up to an average of 600 days to resolve issues. The city has since switched to a mobile app where citizens can snap a photo of the complaint. The app, using an integrated geographic information system (GIS), instantly sends the location and information of the complaint to the ministry, and work is assigned to the closest vendor that can resolve the problem.


Singapore’s government has created an e-appointment system for the Ministry of Manpower’s Employment Pass Services Centre that has managed to slash average appointment wait times from 4 hours to 15 minutes. The Municipal Services Office has also developed a centralized mobile app called OneService, where the public can access services across 11 government agencies and 16 town councils, all from the comfort of their phones.


New York City, US has set up 197 smart waste and recycling stations with built-in compaction, fullness sensors, and collection notifications. This has resulted in a 40% proper recycling rate and a 50% reduction in collections per week.


Myanmar government partnered with Telenor to overcome laborious birth and death recordings by launching a civil registration system in which is integrated a platform updated by several authorized parties when birth and death of Myanmar’s citizens occur.


Collaborating with private sector and government partners, Smart Dubai is the government office charged with facilitating Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, to empower, deliver and promote an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for residents and visitors.


India launched its Smart Cities mission with the aim of developing 100 smart cities. The government defined the features of a smart city, many of which can potentially be implemented on a blockchain for enhanced security, immutability, resilience and transparency.


The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has established a global initiative called the United Smart Cities (USC) program. USC provides cities with support to develop smarter and more sustainable urban solutions by collaborating with international organizations, companies, governments, and high-level decision makers.


Castellon, Spain has piloted a new smart water platform to reduce utility costs and optimize resources. It has accomplished this through the use of smart water meters equipped with long-range sensors.


Macao Science and Technology Development Fund ("FDCT"), established by the Macao government, will collaborate in the development of Smart City infrastructure, public services and government administration.


Santander, Spain partnered with Japanese firm NEC to deploy ~6,000 IoT devices around the city to learn the locations and fill levels of garbage bins and containers. The municipality then uses GPS tracking to optimize its waste collection route.


Amsterdam, Netherlands already uses a smart traffic management system, where traffic is monitored in real-time.


Chicago, US has created a program that will replace 270,000 lights with LED lighting equipped with intelligent controls by 2021, saving the city an estimated $10M a year in energy costs.


Vietnam aims to build a smart city by 2025 that will lay the foundation for e-government. The initiative is entitled “The smart city ICT architecture for Hanoi”.


South Korea’s capital city has committed to invest 1.2 trillion won ($1.07 billion) by 2022 via an investment fund for startups of which 2.25 billion won ($2 million) are dedicated to Smart City development.


The mayor of London, UK, launched a roadmap to make London the “smartest city in the world,”


Bill Gates’ investment firm Cascade Investment has bought a stake in 24,800 acres outside of Phoenix, Arizona, US which will become a new smart city. The firm has invested $80M into designing and creating features such as high-speed digital networks, data centers, infrastructure for autonomous vehicles, automated logistics hubs, and more.


Walmart launched its Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing in collaboration with IBM and Tsinghua University to improve the tracking of food using blockchain technology.


JD.com, China’s second largest ecommerce platform has been exploring the capabilities of blockchain in empowering food producers to provide information about their produce.


Cisco invested $1B dedicated to building smart cities around the globe through the use of its Kinetic Cities IoT platform.


Sidewalk Labs — the aforementioned urban innovation subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — is currently working on turning 800 acres of Toronto’s waterfront into an advanced smart city.


Amazon Web Services (AWS), offers a broad set of cloud-based products for smart cities, including IoT sensors and devices, management tools, storage, databases, analytics, and more.


Johnson Controls has created a smart thermostat for homes and buildings that optimize temperatures automatically.


Blockchains L.L.C., bought for $170 million a large parcel of Nevada's desert to develop a smart city powered by blockchain technology.


Microsoft, is working on smart city tech — the CityNext solution aims to “[empower] cities and citizens to unlock their potential by delivering innovative digital services and smart city innovations that can help them lead safer and healthier lives, enriched by high-quality education.”


and, and, and....


Smart technology can be used to connect vehicles, infrastructure, public transit, and people to improve mobility and safety. Smart cities uses technology and infrastructure to provide higher quality of living for residents, good environment for businesses development, optimization of natural resource utilization and transparency for government. These goals can be outperformed with the use of Blockchain that acts as a tool for decentralized and distributed ecosystems. The security and transparency provided by Blockchain empower all smart cities’ use cases relying on shared information, common database upgrading, information verification and decentralized feature.

specifically for the Asia emerging economies, major sectors such as Industrial, Transportation, Energy, Healthcare, are ripe for change and tremendous growth, through adoption and innovation of “core applications” in artificial intelligence, integrated circuit, smart driving, high-end manufacturing, robotics, cleantech, edge computing, and more. XCEL ASIA is taking a multi-strategy approach and will catalyze venture creation and the startup ecosystem in “Asia’s Emerging Economies”, launching a differentiated, high-touch, cross-border accelerator program network starting with Singapore, Taipei, Nanjing, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and others as the fund is being capitalized.


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Sources: IE / CB Insights, Navigant, Techopedia, Gartner, PwC, McKinsey