Ed’s note: Blockchain in smart cities – should we be afraid?

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Blockchain is more than just a platform for mining bitcoins or facilitating peer-to-peer transactions in energy trading. For one start-up in Singapore, it provides the building blocks for a smart city.

 The 100-hectare development is planned for Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh and will include residential and commercial property, schools, an exhibition hall and shopping precinct. According to developers, Limestone Network, the project will impact 10,000 business tenants and approximately 190,000 people daily.

“Most cities try to become smart cities by installing hardware like sensors and cameras, but our starting point begins with the software,” said Eddie Lee, co-founder and managing partner of Limestone Network.

“Building on a hybrid blockchain infrastructure, the smart city collects information through residents’ multiple daily touchpoints. These create an understanding of how the city moves, lives and functions.”

The first step in the project is to register all residents and workers in order to create a ‘digital passport.’ This involves scanning details against global databases to check for any criminal records and mapping identities into the blockchain network.

This unlocks all the features available to residents – including a digital wallet on their phone.

According to Lee: “People can also move around different buildings freely by just tapping in and out, which forms part of the “digital persona” of their activities.”

Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about being tracked in such minute detail as I progress through my daily life, but Lee believes in a country like Cambodia, where many Cambodians are ‘financially excluded’ and do not even own a bank account, this kind of data could help build a digital profile – which he believes could be the digital equivalent to a credit score.

He says because consumers have power over their data, they get to decide to whom access…

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