7 Uses of Blockchain and Crypto in Smart Cities

You’ve probably heard a lot about smart cities and how they could drastically change how people live. Smart cities have numerous components that make them functional, but evidence suggests that blockchain and cryptocurrency could both particularly prominent parts. 

They’re still in the early stages regarding smart cities, but they could both help stimulate future advancements. Let’s take a look at what’s happening now, and what’s in the pipeline.

3 Current Practical Applications 

There’s a proof of concept that depends on the blockchain to verify legal documents administered by a municipality in The Netherlands. The system allows a citizen of the area to show official records to prove residency to a housing organization without visiting the town hall in person. This application is open-source and accessible to municipal authorities who need to check public records.

Something likely to increase Bitcoin adoption is more outlets accepting it. Public transit users in some places within Brazil can pay for bus tickets with Bitcoin, as well as credit or debit cards. The company making this possible will reportedly accept other cryptocurrencies soon. If a person wants to pay for transportation via Bitcoin, they can start the process by scanning a QR code with their smartphone. 

This arrangement could encourage other destinations to look for complementing smart city applications for cryptocurrencies. Whenever people have multiple options for payment — including Bitcoin or otherwise — their user experiences are typically more favorable. You’ve probably experienced the scenario of going into a store and realizing it doesn’t take the payment option you prefer or must use. Offering Bitcoin-based payments gives people more flexibility. 

China developed a digital identification system that uses the blockchain to differentiate between smart cities around the nation. Officials in the country believe this initiative will lead to better information sharing and connectivity. The system gives every Chinese smart city a globally recognized identification number that functions with a tamper-resistant code. This setup could be crucial for differentiation since China has hundreds of smart city pilot projects. 

4 Examples of Looking to Crypto and Blockchain for the Future

Even when city planners and similar professionals don’t know the precise ways they’ll implement cryptocurrencies and the blockchain for smart cities, they’re thinking about what’s on the horizon. There’s a fascinating range of ideas under consideration. 

Dr. Hitesh Tewari, a software researcher and professor in Ireland, envisions the blockchain managing the movement and use of self-driving cars, potentially allowing owners to rent out their vehicles for others to use while they’re at work or otherwise don’t need to drive. The blockchain could store the vehicle usage requests and reservation information or even create carpools, while people pay for the privilege of using the vehicle with a cryptocurrency. 

Elsewhere, representatives in Dubai recently approved three blockchain initiatives. The first examines how Dubai could solidify its position as a cryptocurrency center. The next looks at guidelines for implementing blockchain technology and related policies in Dubai, but it could be useful elsewhere. Finally, the third initiative will see how prominent sectors in Dubai may soon change with help from the blockchain. 

Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain could collectively create a future where people no longer need physical money to cover everyday essentials. A Croatian e-bike company called Greyp recently partnered with two blockchain companies. It intends to develop a system whereby each vehicle has a digital wallet. 

Riders could use it to pay tolls, cover their rental fees or deduct charging costs. Greyp is no stranger to technology. Its bikes have biometric sensors used for unlocking purposes or choosing various riding modes. 

Some cities are exploring blockchain for waste management purposes. Companies could track which waste bins get filled and then ensure the garbage inside gets disposed of properly. It may become common for people to get rewarded with cryptocurrencies for recycling. Government authorities in Argentina recently launched such a program to encourage recycling participation. Individuals can pay taxes and municipal fees with the crypto, or buy merchandise. 

A Bright Future for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency-Centric Technologies

Most of the crypto and blockchain uses above could assist in the development and enhancement of cities not officially defined as “smart.” However, any progress with the applications here and others like them could quickly spread to and influence smart cities.

It’s impossible to say when some of the future uses may become mainstream, but they’re fascinating nonetheless. Whether you’re a person in a smart city leadership role or have a persistent curiosity about what’s ahead for smart cities, you should plan to stay abreast of the numerous potential ways to use the blockchain and cryptocurrencies to improve the quality of life for citizens and ease the burdens local officials often experience. 

*) Source header: Shutterstock.
**) This article was written by Kayla Matthews (kaylaematthews@gmail.com), tech journalist and writer.

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