Smart Cities NY: A Mix of Civics, Big Data, Security - InformationWeek

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Smart Cities NY: A Mix of Civics, Big Data, Security

City officials meet technology innovators to pursue solutions that may improve life in urban centers as smart cities.
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Blockchain and Smart Cities

Image: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth
Image: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth


Though blockchain can sometimes feel like an overused buzzword, there are tangible ways it can be implemented by city entities.

Jalak Jobanputra, founder of Future\Perfect Ventures; Karen Bhatia, senior vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation; New York State Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, District 33; and Sandra Ro, CEO of Global Blockchain Business Council discussed potential use cases in the public space. Vanessa Grellet, executive director, of ConsenSys moderated the panel.

Ro shared some preliminary results from a survey of members of the Global Blockchain Business Council regarding potential blockchain implementations. There was a significant belief among respondents that more knowledge is needed within the public sector. “[Some] 41.3% of respondents think lack of education among public officials is the greatest impediment to the adoption of blockchain technology,” she said. More than 60% of respondents to the survey said they foresee blockchain increasing transparency and accountability.

Clyde VanelImage: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth
Clyde Vanel

Image: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Vanel saw ways for blockchain to improve access to resources within communities. “Blockchain is an opportunity to close the gap with the underbanked and unbanked,” he said. There are also ways to improve government record keeping, Vanel said, through blockchain.

As an investor with blockchain portfolio companies, Jobanputra said she took interest in the technology because of the growing urbanization trend. New urban centers have been emerging even as infrastructure fails in more developed cities, she said. “The whole concept of distributed connectivity could help both of these [use cases],” Jobanputra said.

Jalak JobanputraImage: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth
Jalak Jobanputra

Image: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

For instance, increased use of sensors in cities allows for greater data collection from the infrastructure, which she said requires improved information and transaction security that blockchain can offer. “If we have a traffic light communicating with a building or a car, how does that transaction happen without an intermediary?” she asks. “We cannot have intermediaries for every single data transaction. That is an area where blockchain can have an impact.”

 

 

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth has spent his career immersed in business and technology journalism first covering local industries in New Jersey, later as the New York editor for Xconomy delving into the city's tech startup community, and then as a freelancer for such outlets as ... View Full Bio

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