Smart cities are for people, not for technology

The new wave of smart cities concept is highly connected with modern technologies, but interests of people have to come first

Our activities are directly related to the concept of the Internet of Energy (IoE), which we already mentioned in our blog. However, our vision of IoE is not limited to just this one concept. It is of our opinion that the Internet of Energy will soon go hand in hand with the development of modern smart cities.

These concepts are within one global trend of modernity, also known as urbanization. According to the UN, the concentration of the population in the 21st century will grow. By 2030, it is forecast that the number of cities with a population more than 1 million will increase from 278 to 363, and between these cities essentially, creating a new added value in the world economy will become more competitive.

How has the understanding of the concept of “smart cities” changed lately? One of the best Japanese urban planners and smart cities, Michinaga Kohno, expressed one thought: in his estimation, various attempts to stimulate new types of user behavior of residents of “smart cities” of the first generation (Smart city 1.0), for example, dynamic pricing to improve the energy efficiency of consumers, did not lead to the emergence of new demanded urban services and a new economy.

A new wave of smart cities projects was launched in 2014, and it focuses on setting and solving real problems of cities. Similarly, IoT and Open data are just auxiliary tools that enhance solving the problem at a new level.

This feature must be taken into account when designing the future platform when you don’t have a foreknowledge of what tasks are in each particular locality, and the decision would be made for a particular community

It is possible to imagine what criteria could be requested by relevant participants. Such as:

  • for the local municipality:the ability to assign target calls;
  • for business; convenient tools that a designer can use to adapt their solutions to specific tasks;
  • for start-ups: to quickly get involved in the solution of the problem with the help of technology, and at the same time, get quick feedback, and the possibility of financing;
  • for regulators: the ability to specify rules and restrictions, create regulatory sandboxes to test models
  • for residents: a convenient interface for understanding the changes and goals, expressing their goals and feedback on the changes
  • for all users: failure to bind to one large vendor that promotes its endpoints or compatible systems. This should be an opensource system.

In addition, one of the important features in changing the approach to the development of smart cities is, in the new architectural approach to urban planning, among other things, which Michinaga Kohno calls “multi-use.” Its essence lies in the transition from the traditional zoning of the city to functional quarters to the creation of multi-functional complexes that unite several buildings with adjacent streets, and squares, which also allows different groups of people to intersect and interact on a daily basis.

Just as often, the software architecture repeats the architecture of the company that creates this software, in our view the architecture of future platforms that will be used for smart cities will and may even need to replicate the embedded architecture of city residents’ interaction. In other words, it should be a common information space where residents, businesses, scientists, regularly interact with each other and execute their tasks. Specific IT technologies for particular industries will remain, but the same “area with parks, cafes and access areas” in the platform will appear where different systems and people can meet, find information and agree on a common algorithm of action.

One of the elements we see is the built-in transaction system and smart contracts for quick fixing of the arrangement and billing between people, devices, and systems among themselves.

Thus, the development of a new type of relationship in cities will be the driver of the use of transaction platforms, and blockchain technology is seen as one of the promising technologies that are currently considered most suitable for all of the above ideas.

Dmitriy Kholkin, Center for Digital Energetic Development

Igor Chausov, Center for Digital Energetic Development

Grigory Melekhov, ØNDER team