Blockchain technology has gained popularity over the years because of its disruptive benefits. Known as a collaborative ecosystem that can address trust issues, the blockchain is currently being considered a transformative platform that can impact the growth of smart cities. Experts believe that integrating the technology into smart cities can bring about efficient and sustainable governance. But before we delve into the applications, let’s look at why we’re building smart cities in the first place.
Why We Need Smart Cities
Smart cities were designed to optimize people’s use of space and resources, make public service delivery more efficient, and equalize the distribution of available resources to dwellers. These communities should increase connectivity among citizens and between the administrators and their population. As such, they require improved public properties that include schools, roads, and hospitals. In sum, we build smart cities to deal with overpopulation, resource management, and social and economic imbalance.
Can Blockchain Use Fuel the Growth of Smart Cities?
A smart city is one where resources are maximized and not wasted, and citizens have access to what they need at any given time. Blockchain technology can provide the infrastructure necessary for transaction management. The transparency and security that it gives are, after all, two critical elements in a smart city implementation.
We listed several practical blockchain applications that can improve smart cities below.
1. Managing Land, Property, and Housing
Blockchain use can help administrators keep track of and manage land, property, and housing records. By storing files on the blockchain, administrators stay assured that these are safe from any kind of tampering. Citizens, meanwhile, can be guaranteed transparency and so make informed decisions should they wish to purchase properties. Easily accessible records can also help the government improve the permit issuance process, making public service more efficient and timely.
2. Improving Public Transportation
Easing public transport is a significant factor in the success of any city. In the past two decades, the dependability of public transportation significantly increased, convincing citizens they don’t need to purchase their own vehicles and thus addressing pollution.
A blockchain-powered smart city can implement a central point of payment for various modes of public transportation. A single payment scheme will make it more convenient for citizens to pay for any ride using only one card. Engineers can also monitor and track the performance of public transportation systems to see which are due for repair. The blockchain can be useful for preemptive maintenance, reducing service downtime and overhead costs.
3. Enhancing Urban Planning
Urban planning allows governments to improve the lives of citizens. Sustainable urban planning is, however, sometimes challenging due to issues such as lack of funds.
Blockchain use can ensure that public services remain cost-effective and thus sustainable. It can, for instance, allow administrators to use an e-voting system to present urban planning proposals to citizens, which promotes collaborative and participative decision making.
Amsterdam shows a notable example of blockchain use in urban planning. Citizens receive smart solar panels, which let them collect energy during off-peak hours that they can then sell to others, which effectively reduces electricity consumption.
4. Managing Energy, Water, and Pollution
Smart cities are all about producing sustainable and energy-efficient services for citizens and visitors. Blockchain use can help streamline processes by gathering real-time data and storing it within interoperable yet secure storage. Stakeholders can quickly come up with well-informed management decisions based on the information collected. They can thus create strategies and enforce policies to distribute resources according to requirements.
Like Amsterdam, other smart cities can also use a blockchain-powered peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading system where users can gather, buy, sell, or trade energy without a middleman.
The applications above are just some of the benefits that a blockchain-powered smart city can provide. With its decentralized nature, blockchain technology can help administrators and dwellers alike stay connected, improve their lives, manage available resources optimally, and reach all of the other goals of a smart city.