Blockchain is a pretty handy technology that could work with several novel concepts, such as laying down the foundation of a smart city. But, it’s not a cure-all: one cannot apply it to all the urban issues smart city innovations aim to address. To understand this, let’s dig deeper into blockchain and smart city hype.
We live in strange times. Never before the inhabitants of the planet have witnessed so many changes happening in a small period of time – be it social, technological or economic. With this massive shift in the way we live, new challenges arise for countries, and of course, cities.
As the world is moving towards smart cities and governments are seeking to incorporate innovations, blockchain can offer a lot. This is a widely known accepted fact: in a recent survey about smart cities, 77% percent of respondents agreed that blockchain could solve city problems that they faced. But here’s the catch: only 15% of residents could convey exactly what this meant.
The reason behind this is that blockchain is hyped as an ideal technology solution by people – without them having an understanding of exactly what it does, or will do with concepts like smart city.
Blockchain and Smart City
Blockchain will not build infrastructure, or keep rivers clean. But, it can facilitate and optimize urban processes. Blockchain will play a role in the advancement of smart city concept – but it would be a supporting role, rather than a leading one.
The biggest benefit of blockchain for smart cities is related to public administration. As cities grow, the influx of more residents increases pressure on processes that were not exactly built with that demand in mind. This will give rise to areas that would directly or indirectly need blockchain.
Transparency of Records
Firstly, blockchain can make government records more accessible and transparent. Centralizing records has been a problem: it has given rise to maladministration and corruption. This is a huge problem in developing countries. The decentralization of government records could help with creating an open, accessible world.
Facilitation of property buying and selling
Title registries are prone to fraud. They often aren’t updated in a timely fashion. The introduction of blockchain would provide an immutable history of transfers and sales. In turn, this will introduce transparency in a situation where multiple departments work with different versions of the truth.
Cybersecurity of public goods
Electricity is the bedrock of the modern world. It is pretty much a need for every individual. While it’s true that the government of every country has a number of security measures in place, there is still a singular, central grid in most countries. It is a fact, that any central grid can be hacked.
The distributed nature of the blockchain technology means that there is no single point of failure, which can reduce the possibility of large-scale threats. Also, the data transmitted between parties is encrypted, hence it is not transmitted across open lines. Another benefit is that fraud can be detected easily. Once data is put in the system – it cannot be changed without establishing a consensus of stakeholders.
Finally, one of the central themes of the Smart City concept has been to optimize data to make urban growth more efficient. Blockchain clearly has an important role to play in this. As blockchain systems get more familiar, the applications will expand. This would make the technology as one of the bases – the support system of the next-gen civilization.