Blockchain is a buzzword that has been thrown around enthusiastically for the previous year. Surprisingly, many people don’t seem to know how extensive its applications can be, or the extent of its potential in years to come. So, let’s take a look at what blockchain actually means, and understand how it relates to developments with Smart Mobility…
Blockchain is essentially a public record of digital transactions. These transactions are anonymous and can be shared between many parties and individuals. Once public transaction information has been entered, it cannot be deleted – a unique trait of blockchains. Originally the technology was created for use with digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, but has since been re-programmed and adapted for many other purposes.
One such new application of blockchain is its use within Smart Cities. Autonomous vehicles and automated driving are playing an increasing role in these areas, where sophisticated and complex systems and seamless integration is needed to ensure Smart Mobility is beneficial to the public. Part of such systems require micro-payment between vehicles, or between individuals and services. This means that blockchain can help with intermodality: making all transport easier to use.
There are many other different applications for blockchain in the Smart City. “Digital Town”, for example, aims to create a distributed platform that is under community control, providing an alternative route rather than relying on the extraction economy. It has the ultimate goal of transferring power back to the people from corporate giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Uber. Furthermore, blockchain can be used as a distributed database, which means a higher degree of accountability. Smart contracts and the Internet of Things (IoT), too, can be improved with the use of blockchain to combine software and sensors for better information exchange.
Blockchain in its many forms has been tested and implemented in many Smart Cities around the world. In many cases it is the objective of projects produced by tech companies, and or/governments: for example “Peer-to-peer Energy Trading based on Blockchains” by Siemens, “Smart Energy for Communities” by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs within the German Government, “Smart Dubai Effort” by branches of the Dubai government, and the “Smart Cities Initiative” by Chinese company Wanxiang.
The most successful projects involving blockchain will use it to improve a range of fields including government management, urban planning, sustainable transportation, smart building, public safety and environmental preservation. A focus on a range of issues is theorised to underpin the collaborative economy, as well as contribute to sustainability policies within Smart Cities.
With this kind of implementation, current Smart Cities, as well as those of the future, are likely to be better off in terms of data, transparency and efficiency – all of which contributing to a better quality of life for individuals. As time goes on the applications of blockchain, too, is expanded. Therefore, Smart Mobility within the city is likely to continue to radically improve over the coming years.