Applications and Use Cases

Major U.S. Cities Investigating Blockchain for Variety of Uses

October 06, 2021

Blockchain has proven itself to have many uses, and governments and municipalities throughout the world have already adopted solutions based on the technology. A recent report reveals that although many U.S. city governments are enthusiastic about blockchain, questions remain about how the technology may be applied to local governments.

According to Mike Sarasti, chief information officer (CIO) in Miami, the city government only began to take blockchain seriously recently. During the past year, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez began embracing the technology to help combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Sarasti. He said Suarez investigated cryptocurrency mining operations and even considered paying city staff members partially in bitcoin. The city eventually went on to support CityCoins, a nonprofit organization designed to help fund local governments using digital currency.

Miami is now investigating how it can accept and invest in cryptocurrencies and is also exploring how validation, verification and auditing may be automated through blockchain, according to Sarasti.

“Blockchain is creating a real possibility that those things at some point could be automated without the need for trust,” he said. “That’s the thing that well-designed, secure blockchains are enabling. They’re enabling an environment where you don’t need an individual guaranteeing trust — you now have the technology itself and you can now have trustless transactions.”

Philadelphia has also been researching the use of blockchain over the past few months, according to Mark Wheeler, CIO of the city. Wheeler admitted he has had trouble understanding the complexities of blockchain technology but is actively looking for experts to help him find municipal use cases.

“If at some point this really takes off, and Philadelphia wants to be a CityCoin participant, I want to really understand how this mining works, stacking, holding a token that is related to bitcoin and what that holding means and why you would get a reward for that,” said Wheeler. “It’s not for the faint of heart. I don’t know where we’re going. I just want to have a conversation with my local blockchain people. People who’ve been doing the work, believe in Philadelphia and see what we might be able to do together.”

Wheeler said the city is interested in potentially using blockchain to track vehicles to better manage traffic congestion. The technology could be used to aggregate data on where vehicles stop, park and which roads are used the most.

While Miami and Philadelphia are taking a more cautious approach to blockchain, the mayor of Reno, Nevada believes the technology has the potential to transform the city. Mayor Hillary Schieve said the city is embracing blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a way to transition the city away from gambling and rebrand it as a technology hub.

Edited by Luke Bellos

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