You may have already heard the term “smart city” – a fanciful futuristic idea that we can see in the foreseeable future. Some urban areas like Singapore, Seoul, Amsterdam, Oslo and Tokyo are already getting smart.

So what makes a city smart? This label is still quite abstract and can have different meanings, but if you go the boring route and actually do Google, you’ll come across this one definition: an interconnected metropolitan area that uses different sensors and other ways to collect and use data. to improve performance.

In other words, a smart city is where devices are connected to a common infrastructure. As a result, everything that happens in this infrastructure is analyzed in real time to achieve various goals, such as reducing costs and consumption of resources or increasing communication between citizens and the authorities.

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But as you might think, data connectivity and access control for smart devices is a slippery slope. The danger of this is probably best illustrated by Bansky’s 2007 mural, which he painted on the wall of the Royal Post Office in London. It depicts a child writing “One Nation Under CCTV” while being watched by a police officer and a dog. The entire piece is put together next to a real CCTV camera.

Yes, public video surveillance can help police collect evidence (and possibly prevent crime, although its effectiveness is questioned), but the miserable side effects it presents to society, such as the feeling of constant surveillance and potential accidents of surveillance. The abuse is unbelievable.

This happens in a democratic society. Now imagine this dangerous and unexpected dark side of building smart city applications in an authoritarian regime. There is, in fact, a good example out there: China’s notorious social credit system – a set of databases to monitor people’s “reliability” – which essentially tracks your life 24 hours a day, assesses your loyalty to the state and decides if you want it to be enough. A good citizen to shorten hospital waiting times or prioritize access to schools and employment.

Smart cities without intermediaries
After six years of working on research and development projects where we experimented with Interplanetary File System (IPFS), Ethereum and Substrate to build secure applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), we identified a number that could be changed to avoid impact.

Smart urban infrastructure has one drawback. When you try to access services/devices (eg rent a car through a car sharing app), your data is transferred to the IT company, and after confirmation of this, that IT company decides whether to grant you access to the services. Although the Company must consider the risks before providing you with the Services (if they are not significant), this process is unfair to the end user. Every time someone gets an opportunity to collect data, they will likely collect too much data, or use your sensitive data to generate additional profits (for example, sell it to data brokers).

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Fortunately, blockchain technology allows us to combine all the financial and technical details of a particular transaction into an “atomic” transaction that no intermediary can read or use. It allows people to send messages directly to smart devices (vending machines, cars, lockers or parking meters) with payment and all technical details of the services they purchase.

Now imagine that all these devices are connected to each other by Cross-Chain Messaging (XCMP) and fully synchronized with each other, analyzing your transactions for one purpose only: to provide the best service. In addition, Polkadot-enabled IoT devices can share security gained through the relay chain – the main component of the network – and other complex mechanisms that prevent most attack vectors by design.

Doesn’t this sound like the perfect future for the smart city we described above, without all the negative side effects?

Running a smart city via the blockchain means thousands of transactions per minute, which the crowded Ethereum network cannot process — at least at this point. On the other hand, Polkadot can provide financial and transaction scalability by allowing a common group of validators to secure multiple blockchains by evenly distributing transactions.

Source: CoinTelegraph