Blockchain for Smart Cities, Simplified

Blockchain technology is just beginning period of projected exponential growth. It has already become a go-to in global smart cities applications.

In this report, I want to share with you why I believe blockchain could be one of the most disruptive new technologies since the internet itself.

While a number of cities, governments and corporations around the world have embraced blockchain, piloting blockchain initiatives, developing use cases, and planning for the future, a much larger number have not yet explored blockchain options. While there is a general buzz about this new technology, I estimate that a large percentage of city leaders still aren’t clear about the basic features of blockchain and what sorts of solutions it will be optimally positioned to bring.

As blockchain solutions spread, I predict that many global city leaders will soon need answers to some basic questions: What is blockchain? Is it a program or a code? What differentiates it from existing digital technology? What are the safety risks involved and how can we minimize them? Who will control the data?

Will this technology be able to adapt to the growing needs of cities? What business models will be optimal for future blockchain development? What will the costs be? Where can we begin in order to understand this new technology?

As the composition of global society changes and cities grow in the near future, current infrastructure issues will only be compounded. Cities will be faced with new challenges, and outdated systems will be taxed in sectors as diverse as housing, utilities, employment, property, technology, healthcare, and many more.

In recent years, thought leaders have fomented a global movement to proactively address these challenges and push cities toward positive growth, utilizing technology to optimize outdated services and streamline an urbanizing world. While in the past this has often been initiated by those in positions of power, more and more changes have included partnerships with start-ups or citizen co-creation.

Blockchain is one of the new technologies that innovators have begun to consider for proactive solutions in many sectors that allow governments, citizens and enterprises to participate in changes together.

Imagine if you were able to vote with the tap of an app on your smartphone. Or if it only took a few conversations and one simple program to buy a home, verify the identities of both buyer and seller identify, check the title and all records connected to the house, and transfer it from person to person all from a home computer. How about tracking a patient’s entire medical history through a single system, allowing both patients and providers at every location a transparent, but secure access to valuable medical data with one identity card? These are solutions not only for individuals, but for entrepreneurs and smart cities.

These scenarios might all sound unlikely, not secure, or impractical to implement, but in cities across the world, governments and companies are beginning to test similar systems. Each of these examples is actually being piloted around the world today, and all of them rely on a digital technology called blockchain—a powerful type of digital database.

There will still be hurdles to overcome, but the results so far are promising, and growth is predicted to be exponential: a World Economic Forum report estimates that 10% of global GDP will be stored on blockchain technology by year 2027.

One of blockchain’s most powerful qualities is that it makes tracking and managing digital identities immutable and secure by using digital signatures based on public key cryptography instead of today’s vulnerable password-based systems.

One of the biggest challenges keeping blockchain from being applied more widely is lack of awareness. If you aren’t clear about the concepts behind blockchain, the exact details, or the solutions that it offers, you are not alone.

According to the Smart Cities World survey in 2018, 25 percent of around 200 respondents said they have no idea how they could use blockchain technology to improve public services and benefit people, a figure that rises to 40 percent for respondents who worked in city administration. These statistics are likely to change as blockchain’s potential for growth is unlocked: 77 percent of respondents from the same survey believed that blockchain is more hope than hype for solving urban challenges in cities.

The number of cities and start-ups partnering to use blockchain for urban solutions is on the rise, leading to a need for deeper understanding of this technology and what it can do for us. In this white paper, we will address those issues. We’ll uncover the details of blockchain and the five unique qualities that make it suitable for next-generation infrastructure projects, as well as the challenges that this new technology faces, opportunities for growth, and real-world examples of the potential and drawbacks of blockchain.

Download the white paper to learn how blockchain could be one of the cornerstones for the next generation of smart cities, a building block for secure, streamlined applications.

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Arzu TekirThis article was written by Arzu Tekir, a business strategist working with the leaders of the cities and organizations to create a positive change. She has eighteen years of work experience in strategic planning, business development, strategic partnership development, and record of raising millions of funding dollars for large-scale public and private sector projects.