Blockchain Civic Engagement Tool to be Tested in Vermont

How could mobile devices, blockchain, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence make local government more representative?

Toronto-based AI company Consensus AI sees in these technologies the potential for local, virtual town halls, and it has enlisted the help of South Burlington, Vt., in a pilot project to create one.

The company’s four-page summary of the untitled project, announced in April, describes three phases unfolding over an estimated nine months, in which the company will give citizens an as-yet-unnamed mobile app to offer their thoughts on local issues, give the city an open portal to receive and publish that feedback, and apply predictive analysis and possibly machine learning to the resulting data.

Consensus will use its proprietary blockchain network, Sentient network, to gather the feedback and other participant IoT data securely.

The summary says Consensus chose South Burlington for its sufficiently tech-savvy residents, government interested in improving discourse with citizens, and appropriate size, with a population just over 19,000.

The goal for Consensus is to create a proof-of-concept that answers the following:

  • At what level do citizens want to engage with their local governments?
  • Can incentive mechanisms be used for increasing citizen engagement?
  • Can we establish trust between government and its citizens through technology?
  • Can government make more rapid decisions with ongoing citizen feedback and data?

South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn said the pilot project will begin June 3, helping the city receive citizen input on everything from development projects to conserving open space, mental health services, opiate addiction,…

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