China is debuting an entire blockchain city, Innova City, which is gaining international attention.Futurists imagine advanced sustainable cities powered by cutting edge technologies integrated into every facet of the city, including transportation, building architecture, trade, and even energy production and consumption.
Innova: China’s Blockchain City
More recently, China has been in the news due to the development of its smart city dubbed Wanxiang City or “Innova City” according to a press release. Wanxiang, China’s car manufacturing giant has announced a partnership with a blockchain startup, PlatON to help create an underlying blockchain infrastructure for its city project. According to the report, Wanxaing has pledged $29 million to this smart city initiative which will be situated in the Zhejiang province and is calling up PlatON’s expertise to build a blockchain platform capable of efficient data tracking with specific features that will help enhance the transportation sector. This tracking platform could help improve ecological waste management and allow for other exciting use cases.
Many experts are now looking at blockchain technology as the potential major driver of innovative features that futuristic cities will incorporate. These blockchain cities will not only be smart and highly functional but will also feature intelligent interconnectivity between city-based departments, the citizens, and the government. This synchronistic approach will bring about a tremendous level of efficiency that is unseen in any city in the world today.
Why Blockchain Cities?
Blockchain isn’t the only revolutionary technology of our time that is capable of transforming regular cities to fully functional smart cities. Artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and clean energy technologies will also make transformative changes to the way cities currently operate. However, there is a particular emphasis on blockchain technology, which has often served as the building block for many smart city projects presently in development.
Blockchain is important because it is an advanced and encrypted database platform. In addition, is also decentralized and immutable. This makes sharing of information within the city’s network efficient, secure, trustworthy, and easily accessible to the public. A blockchain foundation for a smart city will enhance synergy between all other technological city components; allowing them to share information and make updates seamlessly. For instance, activities of government administrators are continually are stored on the blockchain. At the same time, automated AI systems can analyze this data and proffer solutions to problems. They can also offer recommendations to help enhance efficiency. This approach could be one step away from the creation of a fully functional digital government.
The Dark Side of Blockchain Cities
Blockchains are quite efficient when it comes to tracking and traceability. It is this feature that makes them useful for supply chain management, but when applied to other sectors, it raises privacy concerns.
According to the press release, the PlatON blockchain system can “track, transfer, and secure critical data. This includes resident identification cards and smart devices.” The Chief Innovation Officer at Wanxiang Holdings, Vincent Wang, has stated that his blockchain city project will also feature an underground transport system that “tracks and rewards responsible driving behavior.”
All these tracking capabilities are a cause for concern. Many believe this city will allow the automobile giant to get its hands on sensitive data of the city’s residents. This in turn can be which actively monetized or used for other questionable purposes. Regardless, there is no doubt that more blockchain cities will spring up soon. In the end, it may be up to the individual to decide if they willing to trade their privacy to enjoy the benefits of living in a blockchain smart city.