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Op-Ed

The “smart society” of the future doesn’t look like science fiction

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Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.

Editor's Note:

This article first appeared in the Harvard Business Review. The views are of the author(s).

R

Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi

Associate Director for Research - Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, Tufts University

Doctoral Research Fellow for Innovation - Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, Tufts University

What is a “smart” society? While flights of imagination from science-fiction writers, filmmakers, and techno-futurists involve things like flying cars and teleportation, in practice smart technology is making inroads in a piecemeal fashion, often in rather banal circumstances. In Chicago, for example, predictive analytics is improving health inspections schedules in restaurants, while in Boston city officials are collaborating with Waze, the traffic navigation app company, combining its data with inputs from street cameras and sensors to improve road conditions across the city. A city-state such as Singapore has a more holistic idea of a “smart nation,” where the vision includes initiatives from self-driving vehicles to cashless and contactless payments, robotics and assistive technologies, data-empowered urban environments, and technology-enabled homes.

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