Blog / Leadership & Transformation

Blockchain solutions for Smart Cities

In a past post, we have already talked about possible use cases of blockchain technology in smart cities and concluded that it fills the bill perfectly. Today, we’re gonna look into what integrated blockchain-based smart city solutions platform should look like. Smart cities are on the rise, slowly but surely. The population and urbanization statistics leave no doubt that moving towards smarter cities is a must. But in order to live up to the promise, smart cities need a system that allows the devices to verify a large number of transactions and quickly confirm their authenticity. Data security is vital for the devices and services in a metropolitan setting. That’s where blockchain emerges above others as the possible solution for a decentralized platform that guarantees the trust of the public. It’s reported that by 2021 the spending on smart city technology is expected to grow to $135 billion. And blockchain technologies will probably take a considerable piece of the pie.
  • The creation of a common platform where all devices would be able to communicate securely in a distributed environment.
  • The interoperability & scalability of different platforms used in a smart city.
  • More powerful and useful IoT devices. Blockchain can be used to develop a digital record connecting thousands or even more computers while curbing the risk of hacking.
  • Greater transparency, immutability & security to all processes.
  • More secure digital identity.
  • The autonomous execution of smart contracts between several parties once certain pre-set conditions are met.
  • The integration of Blockchain and IoT brings along a completely new set of services and businesses.
  • Streamlined transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.
We consider “smart city platforms” to be a technological solution that offers horizontal integration of different public services. Until a few years ago, there wasn’t much talk about such platforms, as the process of digitalization and automation of public services concentrated on the improvement of each service in an isolated way. Therefore up until recently, we couldn’t talk about a single interface for the management of the whole city. Today, Smart city platforms are developed both by private companies and public collaborative initiatives with the objective to provide a more efficient type of management and better services towards its citizens. And although many such platforms are already implemented and used in a large number of cities around the world, there are still some challenges related to integration, transparency, security and robustness among others. That’s where the blockchain technology will enter the equation to offer a truly immutable and transparent system for the citizens and the companies that operate within it.A correctly implemented smart city blockchain platform has the potential to revolutionize the governance model of the cities. However, it also comes with its difficulties. When applying blockchain for isolated services is relatively straightforward, using blockchain as a governance platform for the public services of an entire city is much more complex. We would have to decide what should such model look like, how to integrate different public services with each other and with private, or semi-public, blockchain services, and how can both private and open data within the system be structured, regulated and controlled. It is more common that cities initiating their blockchain journey first start with isolated, small-scale pilot projects. This could mean using blockchain only as a registry for public information that can be accessed by any person or system, such as public finances and records, voting results, urban data, environmental data, etc. All in all, the blockchain-based governance model for smart cities will be implemented mainly through the Dapps, which will be the primary channel for the different services provided by a city. The development of a full scale interactive service Dapp implicates the use of many components within the model, such as the digital ID, a token, the wallet, etc. which results in a complex project. Whether to go for a full scale service Dapp or use Blockchain for keeping a registry for public information is up to each city and what it deems better for its governance model. No need to say that it is important to select blockchain projects that match the available human resources, budget, timeframe, etc. On the final note, the model should be evaluated from technical, legal, social and economic perspectives.As we have seen above, blockchain enabled smart city platform holds a great promise for the future. Thanks to its decentralised ownership, known immutability and unhackeability, blockchain is just the right technology to take on the challenges related to information security and privacy.

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Zigurat Global Institute of Technology