CEO Bloggers - Benson Lau
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Director at Zencode Technologies
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
The Future of SMART Infrastructure
Publish Date: 18/04/2018
Recently i attended a forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which beyond the opening of the ancient silk road trade routes for trade and infrastructure development is going to change the way business is done in a lot of countries along the belt and road. Dr Li Shan went through 3 main technologies he thought would change the countries along the path, more than the ancient trade routes and infrastructure development. It is about SMART Infrastructure
Here are 3 main ways the BRI could show us how new technologies will exponentially grow economies along the BRI, how technology can substantially improve our lives.
a) Smart Contracts, less Dumb Money
Instead of traditional contracts Infrastructure Projects could be issued on Asian Infrastruture Investment Bank’s (AIIB) blockchain contract, which both acts as a legal instrument and has monetary value. #AiiBCoin?
These smart contracts are then given very specific milestones which specific users with their separately given public keys can verify for each transaction from the supervisor at the ground site to the minister in the country where the project is being carried out. Once verified the smart contract which is essentially a contract in a digital currency will then be sent to the related parties as payment is released.
An AIIB approved exchange could then allow the currency to be converted into the denomination required (either another digital currency or sent to a bank account) or AIIB marketplace of vendors could allow goods and services to be traded using AIIBCoin.
By doing this the AIIB can minimize the number of hands processing the money and be able to track all the payments and contracts within the network. This will make the payment and contracts process much more efficient as AIIB’s projects are typically dealing with multiple countries and multiple currencies.
Imagine a scenario where we are building a bridge in Kazakhstan with a concrete company from China, civil engineering company from Turkey, a steel company in Kazakhstan and a bunch of other nations; then with AIIB’s blockchain we would be able to disseminate the contracts and payments across borders with little restriction.
Zencode, my company, recently created smart contracts with NEO and it’s implementation of the Directed Acrylic Graph (DAG), a much more efficient blockchain, and found that the factor of efficiency for a supplier related payment process could be increased in the orders of hundreds. So imagine what a AIIB created blockchain could do for massive infrastructure projects
b) Hybrid 4G-5G Communications Network
China is speaking about spending 180 billion on 5G infrastructure for the BRI amongst the telecommunications giants of China.
But what is 5G? 5G is the next level in telecommunications with it’s higher bandwidth and speeds 100x faster than 4G. What that means is that in a world of IoT all the devices will be better able to connect, especially when self-driving cars will need constant data to ensure passengers stay safe.
However with 5G’s short range there is a need for a much larger density of towers and antennas, this will mean that feasibly countries will need to plan for 5G, but locate 4G assets within that planning. Even then having 4G networks would mean that those countries will be able to participate in the internet economy as the speeds allow them to watch streaming movies and consume other data much faster than before, but having 5G would mean that they would be able to access higher computing and real time data power in the cloud which is another order of magnitude.
5G will enable things like smart garment manufacturing looms being able to communicate wireless between each other as they spin out clothes, to give data on number of threads and clothes knitted to help garment manufacturers better plan production with real time data flow, which otherwise has no cloud accessible data to send across to other disparate platforms in real time, but with 5G’s speeds and bandwidth those data will no longer be limited to just internal systems but cloud applications with 5G can start to manage seconds-critical decision making in the cloud as well.
c) BeiDou Satellite Constellation
Beidou is China’s answer to GPS, with higher accuracy claims and laser aided communication as an additional feature. This will allow for much messaging between users, whilst having less reliance on GPS or GLONASS in a lot of countries. Messaging is Beidou’s distinctive feature, which doesn’t appear in the other satellite geo-positioning systems. The messaging allows SMS to be sent through Beidou through any other user also connected to Beidou’s satellites.
Further to this having access to the multiple Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) from a dual system (e.g. Beidou/GPS) or multi-system linkage (e.g. Beidou/GPS/GLONASS) will increase accuracy by several orders of magnitude. From being able to determine position in dense urban populated areas to deep mining pits, this accuracy will allow new applications to be developed as very precise real time location data can be gotten in even the most difficult geographical locations.
Imagine a mining truck being remotely operated by a worker in Astana as the LIDAR and other sensors on the truck send real location time information from a combination of Beidou/GPS satellites via 5G antennas back to a cloud processing software which computer engineers can track in real time and make improvements to the algorithm on the fly. By consolidating computing power in the cloud and using data streaming, the capital cost for remotely piloted or self driving vehicles can come down by several orders of magnitude.
The future of large infrastructure is not just bricks and mortar style of projects, because the true value lies in digitalisation and China has understood that.
Buildings are no longer just buildings, they are wifi centres and collaboration platforms. Roads are no longer just roads, they contain smart street poles and underground sewage lines.
Everything has a smart element to it, nothing is static everything can be dynamic.
And the BRI is perhaps our blueprint to how future big infrastructure developments should be thought of. It is not merely a road, but the satellite network that could support that road’s connected businesses. It is not merely a port, but the Smart logistics that power that port.
Perhaps we as business leaders can learn from the BRI, our tables are no longer just tables but perhaps co-working space. Our warehouses are no longer purely storage facilities, but potentially data centres. The future is making things... Smart.
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