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For A Smart City To Be Really ‘Smart’, Blockchain Has To Be Its Brain — And Soul

For A Smart City To Be Really ‘Smart’, Blockchain Has To Be Its Brain — And Soul

• Although 1,333 projects relating to the Smart Cities Mission have been allocated, the potential of blockchain is yet to be explored by NITI Aayog
• Right from voting, Aadhaar, EHR, land records, to other data, blockchain can form the very foundation of a smart city
• Integrating blockchain into city systems will take care of key factors such as adaptability, accountability, transparency, accuracy and efficiency

Inc42’s Blockchain Technology Report 2018: Demystifying The Hottest Technology Of The Moment

“Blockchain isn’t a disruptive technology; it’s a foundational technology.” — Harvard Business Review

Prime Minister Modi’s flagship project — the Smart Cities Mission — has unleashed a huge potential market for the cutting-edge technology market in India. Blockchain is one of them. This despite the fact that the mega-project, which was launched on June 25, 2015, reportedly failed to meet the deadline with only 1.8% of the sanctioned funds having been utilised so far.

With a view create livable cities for its citizens, 100 cities have been selected under the Smart Cities Mission. The goal of the Mission is to implement innovative digital technologies in these smart cities and dovetail them with the Digital India vision to enable the digital empowerment of citizens. The project envisions the integration of ‘digital’ into every aspect of city life — from infrastructure, healthcare, education, cleaning, hygiene, waste management to services.

On May 17, the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation issued a clarification and an update on the Smart Cities Mission, saying that so far 1,333 projects worth INR 50,626 Cr have been completed or are under implementation/tendering.

If the Mission is to make lives in smart cities as digital as possible, the technology behind it has to be blockchain. The technology, which is transforming the foundations of entire industries, can act as both the brain and soul of smart cities integrating key factors such as adaptability, accountability, transparency, accuracy and efficiency into the machinery that runs these cities.

For readers who are still new to the blockchain bandwagon, a blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that stores information across a number of systems enabling peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions and creating a trust-free, secured distributed storage using a validation process which is fully democratic in nature and is based on consensus. Here, “trust-free” means a blockchain network does not need any intermediary entity for any sort of validation.

Most importantly, blockchain (Public) uses either a proof of work (PoW) or a proof of stack (PoS) to arrive at the consensus, after which data once recorded in a block and added to the block-tree (blockchain) can’t be deleted and manipulated. This brings transparency and removes any scope of data manipulation.

Right from voting, security, land registration, logistics, healthcare, power distribution, banking, certificates — birth, death, education, residential and so on — to other governance-related areas, blockchain removes the “trust factor” completely.

While the Indian government is yet to explore the entire gamut of potential applications and implementation of blockchain in smart cities, a series of blockchain-based PoCs (proof-of-concept) have already been built into the areas mentioned above. The NITI Aayog should take a serious look at these PoCs while working on IndiaChain, a mega blockchain project that’s crucial for the implementation of the Smart Cities Mission.

One of the biggest issues with blockchain implementation has been the lack of a comprehensive report relating to Indian scenario.

Taking the initiative of filling the gap in this regard, Inc42 has just launched the Blockchain Technology Report 2018: An In-depth Study Of The Current State and Future Of Blockchain In India.

Order the Inc42 Blockchain Technology Report 2018 now!

Download The Blockchain Report Now

Blockchain Can Make Smart Cities Secure, Smarter

Considering we’re fast heading towards a future where data is the new oil and where life could be encrypted in data packs, it has become extremely important to secure data first. With an optical fibre network already been laid across, expanding at a CAGR of 17%, and 4G communication being widely available, securing cities’ data via blockchain won’t be a tough task.

Kamanashis Biswas and Vallipuram Muthukkumarasamy of Griffith University, Australia, in their research paper Securing Smart Cities Using Blockchain Technology show how a security framework can integrate blockchain with smart devices to provide a secure communication platform in a smart city.

As highlighted by Biswas, “The main advantage of using blockchain security framework is that it is resilient against many threats. Further, it provides a number of unique features such as improved reliability, better fault tolerance capability, faster and efficient operation, and scalability.”

“Thus, integration of blockchain technology with devices in a smart city will create a common platform where all devices would be able to communicate securely in a distributed environment. The future works will aim to design a system-level model to investigate the interoperability and scalability of different platforms used in a smart city,” the paper added.

Order the Inc42 Blockchain Technology Report 2018 now!

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Blockchain Can Help Secure Aadhaar And The Electoral System

In the existing scenario in India, where half of the data is in hard copies and half is integrated with digital systems across sectors and organisations, data can be easily manipulated, controlled, or erased by any intermediary entity, and users have to rely on the “trust” of data operators, controllers, and processors.

For instance, a number of complaints have been made on the massive Aadhaar data leaks. However, not once has the Unique Identification Authority of India(UIDAI) acknowledged the problem. The issue now is no more about just data security now, but about the “trust” of people in the organisation.

To tackle this problem, India can take a leaf out of Estonia’s book. Similar to what Estonia has done with its e-residential data, the entire Aadhaar data of a smart city citizen could be replicated on a public blockchain model, which will once and for all erase the “trust” issue the organisations like the UIDAI.

In Estonia, even after giving his/her nod, a citizen can at any point in time fetch his/her personal information and see the list of organisations that have accessed the data, when they’ve accessed it, and for what purpose the data was fetched.

A similar system could be implemented to ensure transparency and security of India’s voting system as well. At a time when with every passing election, complaints of manipulation of electronic voting machines (EVMs), records, and data are rising, blockchain could be a sure shot way to erase the “trust” over the machine, which can reportedly be easily rigged.

The smart cities project could pave the way to adopt blockchain in the world’s largest voting system, which will not only bring down the cost of conducting elections, but will also majorly improve the transparency and efficiency of the system.

Order the Inc42 Blockchain Technology Report 2018 now!

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Adopting Blockchain In Health, Land, Education, And More

Besides banking, given the push for maintenance of electronic health records (EHR) across government and private healthcare institutions, blockchain can change the way healthcare data relating to critical drugs, blood, organs, medical licenses, and doctors’ records are handled at present.

Inc42’s Blockchain Report 2018 has also elaborated how the Rajasthan government is implementing blockchain in maintaining EHR.

According to a Deloitte-WSJ report, about 70% of health plan and health system IT executives believe that blockchain holds significant promise for healthcare interoperability.

Similar is the case with other records — educational certificates or records, birth/death certificates, land records, energy distribution, and all other data that comes under the RTI can be brought on the blockchain.

Blockchain can also be used in warehousing, cold storage, and to store other agro-data to increase transparency, reduce complexity, and the cost in the existing scenario.

Once data related to any topic/issue is added on a public blockchain, it can do away with the entire RTI system, as the data can be fetched by anyone, anytime, depending on the permissions granted.

NITI Aayog, which has been working on a concept paper for IndiaChain, which it describes as a “shared, India-specific blockchain infrastructure”, hasn’t provided any further update since last year. Similarly, the Smart Cities Mission is also not being implemented the way it was planned.

However, regardless of how slow or fast the development is, there is immense potential for blockchain implementation in making smart cities really, truly smart. The sooner the authorities realise, the better will the project optimisation be.

Order the Inc42 Blockchain Technology Report 2018 now!

Download The Blockchain Report Now