Smart cities use the latest in proven technologies to ensure that services delivered to citizens and visitors are delivered in a manner that is cost-effective, reduces waste, and is as efficient as possible. The result is this is a better quality of life and improved infrastructure. There are many ways in which blockchain can play a role in these efforts.
Blockchain and IoT will become integrated
Smart cities are already implementing IoT in numerous ways. In Amsterdam, citizens can be issued smart solar panels that allow them to store energy in off-peak times, they can then use this energy as well as sell excess back to the grid. In Barcelona, embedded sensors in streets are being tested to alert people to available parking spaces.
These are just two examples. The truth is, smart cities rely on IoT to deliver services, even conduct financial transactions. Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be more than 25 billion ‘things’ connected to the internet and one another. That’s going to (and already is) produce an extraordinary amount of data. How do cities ensure that this data remains sound and uncorrupted?
One solution is implementing blockchain as a means of maintaining records and ledgers. Because this information isn’t stored in a centralized location, this virtually eliminates the chance that data will become corrupted by hackers or system failures.
Blockchain can improve faith of citizens in smart cities
Estonia was one of the first countries to go digital with all of their public services. In addition to this achievement, they have earned complete buy-in from their citizens. This is because the government of Estonia uses blockchain to protect customer data as well as give them access and control over it.
In fact, each citizen has their own secure digital identity. They can use that to not only look at their healthcare records, for example, they can see who has accessed that data and why.
Smart cities also rely on citizen participation to make their efforts worthwhile. This includes sharing data with urban planners who are tasked with creating smart transportation systems.
To help with this, Moveco has created a transportation based cryptocurrency. Citizens who share data can be rewarded with MOV tokens that can be used to pay for gas purchases. Not only does this provide motivation to become active in smart city efforts, the technology also uses blockchain to provide citizens with further assurance that their data is protected.
Blockchain can help smart city platforms boost local economies
What do Uber and Lyft have in common beyond the fact that they are both in the transportation space? Both offer a local service, but take a significant amount of profit from that service and send it elsewhere. This is known as an extraction economy. Now, imagine a platform that allowed a city to offer similar services to residents and tourists, but kept the resulting profit within the city. Startups like Digital Town can do just that. Not only will platforms like this be able to localize search, they can also localize transactions.
Cities can also adopt cryptocurrencies as well as blockchain to help ensure that all citizens have access to services, especially those who may be ‘unbanked’. The city of Hull in the UK has its own cryptocurrency.
This is distributed by not for profit organizations and social service agencies. The cryptocurrency, Hullcoin can be used for discounts at local retailers as well as for goods and services at entities who have agreed to accept that currency. Blockchain is used to maintain ledgers on all of these transactions. Agencies who issue the coins can then see the record of the positive social good that is being done.
Smart cities can use blockchain as a means to improve services and increase confidence in their initiatives. The result is an improved delivery of services and increased participation.
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