According to an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) report, 51.2 percent of the global population, or 3.9 billion people, were using the Internet at the end of 2018. The digital revolution, led by information technology characterized by mobile internet, big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and blockchain technology, is on the rise.
Experts believe that Digital Revolution can facilitate sustainable development through ongoing advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, connectivity (the Internet of Things), digitization of information, additive manufacturing (such as 3D printing), virtual or augmented reality, machine learning, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, and synthetic biology. Information technology and the digital economy will have profound influence on our life and the way we do things in future.
Meanwhile everyone is dreaming of living in smart city which they expect make their life more comfortable and less stressful.
In a way, digital revolution is a double edged weapon – proper use of it can make smart cities smarter while misuse of it can turn the so called smart cities dumber. Its proper use can promote enhanced green growth, poverty alleviation, urban resilience, ecosystem conservation, liveability and inclusiveness as well as respond more effectively to climate change.
Therefore, we need to develop digital technology that adopts a people-oriented approach and prioritizes safety. Digital technology can also help in urban master plans by integrating green city and smart city development, promote mixed-use and more livable communities and ensuring environmental efficiency through the reuse and recycling of different resources. Always remember, smart cities can gain through data integration, enable information sharing, strengthen connectivity and develop digital resources. By using applicable and affordable digital technologies in urban planning, construction and management one can ensure that their benefits are shared. It can also help in expanding people’s digital capacity through education, cultivating innovation, and promoting a green economy.
Clearly there are many societal challenges associated with increasing digitalization, which, if not managed carefully and thoughtfully, have the potential for a significant counter-revolution. Advances in technology offer huge societal benefits, as long as they are explicitly directed toward a sustainable future.
The loss of privacy and control of one’s data and personality are already a challenge, but they may pose a huge danger to democracies and free-thinking people in the future should new bionic and human-enhancement systems fall into the wrong hands or undergo evolution beyond human control. The loss of control and the impossibility of social steering might be the biggest dangers of the Digital Revolution.
Thus, there are certain necessary preconditions for a successful digital transformation; these preconditions include prosperity, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and good governance.
Digital revolution can bring in sustainable cities and human settlements, and also help to share innovative policies, strategies, technologies and examples on sustainable cities and human settlements. The future is open, but the direction of change is unknown and it is also true that it will largely depend upon our present actions.
One should not forget that there are only 10 years to go to mobilize and leverage the digital opportunities to build sustainable societies. Trend reversal is urgent as the world is at a crossroads. We have only 10 years to learn how to manage and positively use the societal impacts of digitalization and artificial intelligence, to merge virtual and physical spaces and realities, and to avoid further erosion of social cohesion. If we do not manage to get the two fundamentals right – that is, digitalized green economies, and stable, equitable, open digitalized societies – the world will run into a serious impasse instead of developing further sustainability transformations.