Blockchain in the heart of cities?

Blockchain is nothing new in terms of technology and Green YES has been interested in it since 2015. However, in terms of uses, we are still there, because few have taken off, with the exception of the Bitcoin platform and the development of cryptocurrencies. So when Vitalik Buterinfounder of the platform Ethereum Bitcoin rival, starts dreaming of “Crypto cities”, Green YES he could not fail to be interested in the time of a ticket.

The timing of this communication from Vitalik is obviously not left to chance.

We’re buzzing on the “metaverseAlso, from the last post of Green YES (Metaverse, new branch of the Internet) Niantic (PokemonGo game publisher) has announced its e PlayStation Home, virtual universe on Playstation discontinued in 2015, it was taken up by its fans in its original version. Not to mention that in France the topic has even passed to the general public on the 8pm news and the debate to know whether to write Metavers or Metaverse is in full swing!

In these possible virtual universes under construction, platforms will be needed to manage exchanges, ownership certification or asset value. Blockchain platforms like Ethereum are therefore on the communication front to think about; as new platforms are created every week to respond to the NFT craze. But let’s not forget that during all the gold rushes, it is always the pickaxe sellers who make their fortunes first …

However, behind this buzz of the moment for these virtual universes, pushed by pickaxe sellers, are questions and visions related to very real cities investing in digital to become smart. In particular, a new way of organizing local governance: the neighborhood committee, the city council and local markets, in the era of the blockchain!

The first lesson that can be learned from the blockchain is that of decentralization and the possibility of having decentralized autonomous organizations. Bitcoin was born from this idea of ​​not having a central bank to manage a currency and the latter have always been overdue for 12 years. At the scale of a territory, it is evident with the decentralization of responsibilities and competences, even if depending on the country and in particular in France, the central power always retains a certain influence, not to say a certain influence.

The blockchain is therefore a good candidate for equipping a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO in English) and therefore the idea of ​​a city that relies for its services on a blockchain seems interesting at first glance.

We can then ask ourselves the second specific question of this technology, which is that of the interest of a shared registry within the local government of a city. It is this register, permanently certified by its actors, that provides trust and certifies transactions and provides post-hoc evidence.

At the moment, we could compare the reading of this register with the Cafetiers mobile application, which, by scanning your QR code, verifies the validity of your health pass (even if it is not a blockchain that is used). The blockchain allows this traceability and protects against forgery.

Furthermore, it is around a European blockchain that the University of Lille is engaged in a verifiable certification project for diplomas. A shared register of diplomas, easily accessible by all and managed in a decentralized way, is therefore an illustration of these registers that could in the future structure the governance of the territories based on these platforms.

Among the ideas of registers that could flourish, or that some cities are already experimenting, we obviously find what concerns the art market where, for example, authentic digital versions of the sculptures and monuments of the cities are offered for sale and whose L authenticity is certified by an NFT. It is a bit like the idea of ​​the plaque on the bench in the town square (“in homage to the Dupont couple”), or that of thanksgiving in the church, financed by the inhabitants or by a collective, but to a large extent ladder. These privately owned works can then be admired in one of the metaverses.

But they can also be open voting platforms serving local decisions, local currencies based on blockchain tokens (CityCoins.co), or identity or proof of residence platforms. On the latter use case, Estonia showed the way long ago, even in very advanced personal data management, and well before the GDPR (see From identification to consent).

One of the projects detailed by Vitalik Buterin and resting on a platform Ethereum is that of CityDAO (for decentralized autonomous Organization) which aims to create a new city in Wyoming (United States) with a legal status, which will be based on new mechanisms of taxation, land allocation, collective decisions or resource management. A scenario worthy of the race to the west 😉

We can therefore see that the blockchain could be used as a basis for the functioning of new collaborative and participatory processes at the local level. But this implies an understanding of these mechanisms by the inhabitants.

In the case of real cities in transformation, this means an effort to educate and guide major changes among populations. On the other hand, in the case of new projects such as CityDAO, the inhabitants who will join the city will arrive themselves in this new land and will have chosen from the beginning a new governance based on this technology. And then if in the end they are not happy they can leave it.

The question of the blockchain is therefore not only a question of technological choice, but above all of change..

A project like CityDAO is unthinkable in France where notaries, who check land ownership certification, just discovered the electronic signature last year when Covid slowed travel. And again it is only the electronic signature of the powers of attorney, which then allow an employee to sign the authentic deeds, warm in his office. So let’s not get carried away, there will be no opening of this monopoly, nor of too advanced technologies on land assets, before decades in France!

And that’s certainly why Implementing the blockchain isn’t that easybecause despite the merging ideas, few new cases of uses emerge in an operational way, because they question the established balances.

Furthermore, in Europe, for reasons of sovereignty over new public uses, there is a further obstacle: the fact that most of the operational blockchain platforms are American (but on the other hand there is open source technology).

Like the awareness of the medium-term issues of Cloud sovereignty, and therefore of the size of European providers and the technicality of the offerings they offer, there is clearly a problem of having European crypto or blockchain platforms. Because if the use of local governance develops and becomes inevitable, local governance could be influenced by the governance of the platform itself.

In conclusion, blockchain technology can make a strong contribution to making local governance processes more transparent (therefore more democratic), and above all verifiable, or to imagine new ones by creating new virtual assets, and why not rethink the foundations of cities such as ownership of rare earths and goods. But these future Crypto Cities still seem far awaygiven the efforts to drive the changes to be made to move from one platform (our current governance) to another based on the blockchain.

This gives an advantage to those who create from scratch, and remember that Estonia left the Soviet bloc 30 years ago and started from scratch when it had to quickly create the governance principles of its autonomy, choosing to rely in part on digital technology. . An observation that all CIOs make even in large IT audit projects where the clean scenario has many advantages. Innovation often arises when we abandon an old belief.
And if you really want to start a project tomorrow … sell picks!

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