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Blockchain may offer the breakthrough Smart Cities need

With the technological leaps of recent years, the evolution of the smart city from limited solutions to “truly’ smart cities that streamline or automate all of the challenges of urban life is now possible. The only remaining obstacle are concerns about data security and privacy. Blockchain can provide a solution to this, and offer the breakthrough which smart cities need to realize their potential.

A great part of the comfort and efficiency provided to the citizen of the smart city in his/her daily life, whether this has to do with the eradication of time-consuming bureaucratic procedures when dealing with government services, the ease of smart parking automatically charged on one’ s bank account or with receiving the benefits of custom purchase recommendations that suit one’ s preference when shopping, comes at the price of data privacy. All these services require the use of one’ s personal information.

This naturally raises serious concerns about data security, which is a prerequisite for all these services to work. If city residents don’ t have complete confidence that their data won’ t be misplaced or abused, then the smart city services will inevitably fail.

Blockchain has the potential to provide this security, as it enables smart city authorities to eradicate not only paper-based but also the traditional and potentially vulnerable electronic transactions. This way, blockchain can create a platform for city data that is not only incredibly streamlined but which is all but un-hackable. By the use of blockchain technology, all contracts between the city and its citizens would become a living thing, shared between both parties and impossible to corrupt, lose or abuse.

Blockchain technology is already being deployed to this end. An example is the Smart Dubai project, which has set the goal of having fully digitized passports and payment systems that would be purely on blockchain. The solution of blockchain was chosen because of its neutral, non-hierarchical, accessible and secure properties, and the transparency it offers for all parties involved.

Since the use of blockchains for every single transaction in a city of millions is not currently feasible, a more practical solution which might emerge soon is a twin approach to data security, with less critical information protected by traditional systems , and blockchain systems used where sensitive personal data or highly valuable commercial intelligence is involved.

The original article can be found on Arabian Business.