South African Cities Network Logo

Trends and Technologies Impacting Cities, Business and People

Bronwyn Williams is a partner at Flux Trends. She's a Futurist, Economist and Business Trends Analyst. We explore her definition of a Smart City, trends in Intelligent Cities, Smart Cities for Real People, the role of Blockchain in Africa's future, changing the current education system, how she would implement Radical Economic Transformation and what cities and social structures will look like in 20 years

Key Takeaways


  • Bronwyn expands on her background and what led her to Flux Trends and working with Dion Chang.
  • At Flux Trends they unpack trends as business strategies to help corporate and business clients understand the direction the world is going in and how they can adapt.

Her definition of a Smart City

  • She prefers to talk about intelligent cities where you start using technology to enhance the human experience rather than just to make governance more efficient.
  • The last thing we want is to automate bad governance, inefficiencies, or unfairness which seems to be the direction of the so-called ‘smart cities’ of today.
  • Bronwyn explains a real-world example from the United Kingdom.

Trends in Intelligent Cities

  • On the dark side of things, smart city technologies seem to be adopted by governments for surveillance or event predictive policing, etc.
  • Using algorithms and big data is fine if you are using it for a group but when used on individuals there are issues.
  • She explains a Chinese example of smart Artificial Intelligence (AI) being quite dumb, which is kind of hilarious.

Smart Cities for Real People

  • AI is only as intelligent as the human who programs it.
  • From dystopia to utopia.
  • Humans are irrational. We make bad choices but that is good for business.
  • Smart cities need to centre around warm bodies.
  • Planned environments need to leave a little room for chaos.
  • Bronwyn gives an overview of her talk ‘Smart Cities for Real People’, using great examples.
  • Sense of serendipity and chaos adds value to human life.
  • For the first time in history we have all the tools to have no government, she explains these tools and possible scenarios.

The role of Blockchain in Africa's future

  • Blockchain is just a ledger, just like an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Bronwyn explains blockchain vs Bitcoin.
  • Only a few things need to be decentralized, not everything.
  • On a national level, you don’t want the entire world to have access to your entire blockchain.
  • Blockchain is only as strong as garbage in garbage out, giving it a single point of failure.
  • Ghana put their property registers onto a blockchain, but someone had to input that initial data in there, giving motive for corruption!
  • We don’t want to start automating corruption and inefficiencies.
  • The benefit lies not in technology but in the conversations around decentralization and transparency as that has huge potential to fix a lot of our problems.
  • More stakeholders being able to access information at every point of failure and having information that is more distributed is more efficient and flows more fairly.
  • Bronwyn talks more about Bitcoin, Pascal’s wager, monetary systems, decentralization, human behavior & psychology, real needs on the ground, and the need for holistic views.

Legislation she would change

  • Ban leaf-blowers, a joke.
  • Completely destroy the current education system! Bronwyn explains why she will do that.
  • Compulsory schooling makes no sense.
  • We should teach our children to ask: How will I bring value to society?

How she would implement Radical Economic Transformation

  • Get rid of the state monopoly on money, power, and finance, she explains more.
  • She tends towards being an anarchist.
  • No amount of money printing and supply changes the amount of real value in the world which comes from scare resources like food, land and mostly your own time.

What cities and social structures will look like in 20 years?

  • Many potential answers but the Distributed City is a possibility.
  • She talks about Hong Kong as an example.
  • A City defined by mindset and ideology rather than geography.
  • The new cities will look less like cities and feel more in touch with humanity and bring nature into the city. She uses London as an example with agriculture.

About Bronwyn Williams
Bronwyn Williams is a Futurist, Economist, and Business Trends Analyst.

Bronwyn has over a decade’s experience in strategic management, trend research, and foresight; consulting to clients in the public and private sectors across the African continent. Her educational credentials include tertiary qualifications in Marketing Management (University of Johannesburg), Economics (University of London), Foresight (University of Manchester), and Future Studies (University of Stellenbosch). She is currently completing a Masters in Applied Economics from the University of Bath.

Today, as a partner at Flux Trends, Bronwyn’s research focuses on how macro socio-economic trends and emerging technologies will impact businesses, industries, and nations in the near and long term future. Part economist, part strategist, Bronwyn’s particular areas of expertise include fintech trends, alternative economic models, and sustainable future design.

Bronwyn’s clients include Top 40 JSE listed companies, The South African Reserve Bank, African government departments, and global business leaders. She also guest lectures for leading business schools, such as Duke, GIBS, UCT, and the University of Johannesburg. Bronwyn is also a published writer and a well- known media commentator on future trends and economic trajectories for network channels including CNBC Africa and ENCA News.

Below is a list of presentations that Bronwyn has given before:

Life after COVID-19
Virtual & Unreal Estate: The future of finding and creating value
Grand challenges and How to solve them
The Fragmented Future of Finance
Transhumanism: How to train your cyborg to join your workforce (and visa versa)
The BlockChain Effect
Second Wave of Disruption – Middle Management – Junior Employee Tier
Now Hiring, But Differently – The Game of Change: New industries and the new skills required to drive these industries.


About Flux Trends
Flux Trends helps to distill the barrage of information that is hurled at us in the 21st century. We identify and analyze macro trends (everything from politics, religion, youth culture, media, entertainment and technology) that affect social dynamics and therefore our business interactions, and then package this information into digestible chunks, allowing small or corporate businesses to re-assess the business and social landscape and formulate new, forward-thinking, marketing or business strategies.


South African Cities Network Logo

Join our digital discussions

We'll send you the lastest podcasts to your inbox.

Share this discussion

Share Bronwyn Williams - Trends and Technologies Impacting Cities, Business and People on Linkedin Share Bronwyn Williams - Trends and Technologies Impacting Cities, Business and People on Facebook Compose a Tweet about Bronwyn Williams - Trends and Technologies Impacting Cities, Business and People on Twitter Share Bronwyn Williams - Trends and Technologies Impacting Cities, Business and People via Whatsapp

You might also be interested in some of our other discussions

Podcast By Dmitry Pozhidaev about Urbanization and the Quality of Growth in Uganda
Urbanization and the Quality of Growth in Uganda

Dmitry Pozhidaev is Global Advisor at UN Capital Development Fund, he’s based in Uganda. We discuss 15 new cities that are planned for Uganda, insights into the book: ‘Reflections on African Cities in Transition’ and his chapter called ‘Urbanization and the Quality of Growth in Uganda: The Challenge of Structural Transformation and Sustainable and Inclusive Development’, emerging disruptors for Ugandan cities and much more.

Play Now
Podcast By Lisa Reynolds about Leading the Green Recovery with Green Building Council South Africa
Leading the Green Recovery with Green Building Council South Africa

Lisa Reynolds is the Chief Executive Officer of the Green Building Council South Africa. We explore her background, how she is leading the GBCSA in challenging times, the Green Recovery and why it is important, trends and opportunities for cities, legislation she would change with her magic wand, the Green Building Convention 2020, advice for woman in the built environment and words of encouragement.

Play Now
Podcast By Nikolas Badminton about Putting Humanity First
Putting Humanity First

Nikolas Badminton is a world-renowned keynote speaker and futurist consultant that shows you the future trends that shape impactful organizations, trillion-dollar companies, and progressive governments. We discuss the type of future city that Africa needs, explosive growth expected in Africa, lessons from global smart city initiatives, the world in 400 years, cities in 2040, and shifting mindsets from ‘’what is’’ to ‘’what if’’.

Play Now
Podcast By Calayde Davey about Digital Twins: a Fitbit For Cities & Innovative Lean Principles
Digital Twins: a Fitbit For Cities & Innovative Lean Principles

Calayde Davey is a Co-Founder & Director of Urban Strategy at Regen 50 and Co-Chair of the Lean Built Environment Afrika. She is also post-doctoral researcher in African Digital Twin Cities with the University of Pretoria. We explore Digital Twins: a Fitbit for Cities, lean design and construction, her vision for future cities, better industry collaboration and maintaining a work-life balance.

Play Now
Podcast By Nabil El Kadhi about Smart Citizens Need Smart Education
Smart Citizens Need Smart Education

Prof. Nabil El Kadhi is Vice President of Academic Affairs at Khawarizmi International College and Vice President of the Future Cities Council. We explore the schema for future education, UAE education system and what Africa can learn from it, challenges that must be overcome, the difference between smart education and digital education, homeschool vs school/ university, readiness of the classic university for the future, definition of a smart city and a smart citizen, cities in 2040 and advice for students stuck in the old education system.

Play Now

Get the latest podcast delivered to your inbox

Don’t miss a discussion, sign up and be the first to know.