The fourth industrial revolution – the implications of smart cities and the internet of things

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With advances in technology developing at a cracking pace, smart cities are becoming par for the course in the developed world.

Speaking at a panel on ‘smart cities, sustainable and digitised cities’ at the Sydney China Business Forum, Jon Williams, Partner People and Organisation at PwC said the challenge most cities face in keeping up in this cyber race is twofold: that of planning and the lack thereof.

“We plan cities on a long timeframe. And that used to be OK,” Williams says. “But in the next five to ten years, you are going to see great upheaval on the nature of work in cities.

No-one knows what the end result will be. Historians will say we have seen it all before. It’s happened before and it will happen again and the world will need to hit the reset button.”

According to Williams, the way cities react to this ‘reset’ will impact how successfully they will transition through this cyber revolution.

Indeed, Adrian Turner, CEO of Data61 suggests we are on the edge of the fourth industrial revolution.

“The first was steam, the second was mass production and commercialisation, the third was automation and the fourth is cyber physical systems” he said.

And smart cities have a lot to talk about when it comes to cyber systems. From the apps that can notify the city when a street garbage bin is full so it can be emptied, to the ways in which people can make payments, to the infrastructure, to our urban transit programs.

But Turner suggest the ways in which we embrace this revolution need not be limited to smart cities. He told the audience at the Sydney China Business Forum that areas such as agriculture are already benefitting.

“You look at a company like Monsanto. They moved from selling seeds to analysing soil, collecting data, to predicting yields and offering weather-related insurance. They have gone from being a seed provider to the financial heart.”

It’s a story that is being repeated across industries as organisations up the ante with their technology.

Turner says Australia has the opportunity to lead the way when it comes to smart cities and the internet of Things.

“Australia has real strengths in cyber physical systems.”

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Cec is a media professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, Better Pictures, Total Rock, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Senior Writer at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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