Disruptive technologies turning smart cities into reality

Smart cities have the power to fundamentally reinvent the ways in which we interact as individuals and how businesses operate, writes Paolo Gagliardi, CEO of Trriple, a digital payments platform.

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Disruptive technologies turning smart cities into reality Payments have become a commodity; consumers expect a seamless, frictionless experience, Gagliardi said.
By  Paolo Gagliardi Published  August 9, 2018

A ‘smart city’ can be defined as the connected experience created by different technologies that come together in a city’s infrastructure to improve the quality of citizens’ and residents’ way of life. A smart city is one that utilises smart information and communication technologies to meet the demands of its smart users.

Significant economic and technological changes have generated great interest in smart cities throughout the world. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates have witnessed a massive digital disruption, introducing numerous national initiatives aimed at advancing the country and facilitating the much needed digital growth to succeed in this digital era. One example of the country’s disruptive initiatives is the Smart Dubai strategy, a collaboration between the public and private sector to “empower, deliver and promote an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for residents and visitors”.

There are numerous emerging technologies that are causing vast disruptions across industries, calling into focus the need for a strong economic infrastructure designed for productivity and profitability. For instance, the financial industry is one of the sectors seeing significant transition and disruption. Payments are a socio-economic transaction model that underpins all economic activity.  Technologies have reinvented consumer experiences; they have made it more convenient and efficient to carry out payments.

Payments have become a commodity; consumers expect a seamless, frictionless experience. The vision has long been of an inclusive, digitally-enabled, cashless society- where traditional currency is eliminated and replaced by digital transactions, allowing for a more secure and efficient experience. Payment technologies such as digital wallets, contactless payments, and mobile payments have transformed the way smart users transact. Consumers are increasingly turning to trusted technology to carry out day-to-day transactions. With this transition in end-use preference, the UAE has set itself an aspirational goal of becoming cashless by 2020. The good news is that solutions such as Trriple, and a host of others, are here to empower this journey. 

Blockchain technology has, in recent times, caused further disruption in the industry, as its decentralised and secure nature has caught the attention of many. Its information trails are open to the public and completed transactions are irreversible, and all without human intervention. Positioning itself at the forefront of this technology as well, the UAE earlier this year announced the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, predicted to save 398 million printed documents and 77 million work hours annually. It is fair to say that blockchain technology is causing a revolution in the financial industry now, and it will remain an important part of a financial institutions operational infrastructure.

Success of any emerging technology is determined by end-user adoption and demand. In today’s fast-paced business environment, artificial intelligence can make all the difference when dealing with large amounts of data and uncovering actionable insights. AI can help organisations understand their target audiences, their patterns, and preferences. Financial institutions are reaping the benefits of AI by implementing solutions for machine learning, chatbots, cognitive computing and so much more.

On a larger scale too, the economic benefits of AI has surpassed expectations, and governments all around the world are racing to reap the benefits of this technology. Once again, the UAE has taken the lead by announcing the UAE Artificial Intelligence Strategy, aimed at enhancing the governments performance and efficiency, and creating new economic opportunities. According to PwC, Artificial intelligence will contribute $320 billion to the Middle East economy by 2030, equivalent to 11 per cent of GDP.

The digital evolution of a city is no longer a vision, but very much a direction that we will see gaining popularity over the near-term, developing urban environments for a tech-savvy generation and the ways in which they transact with each other and with their financial service providers. It is true that this will cause some strain initially on legacy financial infrastructures to significantly transform their digital efforts and make them future ready, but the sector already understands that this is not optional.

Fundamental reorganisation of the market calls for broader collaboration beyond individual organisations alone. It is critical that both the private and public sectors join forces and innovate. The objective here should be not to innovate from a technology-first perspective, but to ensure that it is ‘user-first’ – with focus on usability, accessibility, inclusivity – ensuring that the smart users are equipped with smart applications and solutions that transform their experience and efficiency in a smart city.

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