January 16, 2021

Moscow uses 'blockchain' for citizens to trust each other | Trends

Moscow uses 'blockchain' for citizens to trust each other | Trends


For Andrey Belozerov (Murmansk, 1980), the blockchain can be reduced to a catchy slogan: "The next generation of confidence in Moscow." Belozerov is the Innovation Strategy Advisor at the CIO in Moscow and his job is to discover what technologies he must deploy to improve the lives of citizens. In the case of blockchain, it was about solving a problem suffered by all societies: mistrust.

"Like all cities, we have people who believe that we manipulate information, we have opposition, we have all kinds of unions, associations and diversity among citizens, which means that by taking common actions there are groups that can not trust each other or the Government. . Blockchain It saves this problem, "says Belozerov, why? Because the system of chained blocks has been deployed as a pilot project in the Russian capital in conjunction with another program that had been underway since 2014: the Active Citizen platform.

This platform, which has managed to date more than 3,500 votes to citizen proposals of the most diverse, has been reinvented at the end of 2017 by its integration into the Ethereum public network. For the proposals themselves, little has changed. The platform continues to channel the different ideas that occur to Muscovites and by means of voting, which are the most popular to carry them out. But now all those data and votes are uploaded to Ethereum so that, as Belozerov says, "citizens can be sure that nobody changes the votes or the proposals".

That Active Citizen is in Ethereum means that anyone who participates in the proposal can download the control node and have the record, in real time, of all interactions with the platform. Moreover, the project has been carried out with philosophy open source, so that any citizen can also see the guts to programming that makes this service possible after the curtain of ones and zeros.

Integrating this type of digital infrastructures involves a considerable technical challenge. To begin with, evaluation, as explained by Andrey Borodenkov (Dolgoprudny, 1987), product manager of blockchain of the Moscow City Hall. "Not all projects make sense in blockchain. One of the limitations that must be taken into account when deciding to integrate a public service with this technology is that everything blockchain it has a weak point: a limited number of operations per second, "says this expert.The Active Citizen platform did comply with this requirement and benefited from the" additional transparency "offered by the blockchain.

That the chosen network is Ethereum does not simply respond to a fashion. "We chose it because it's the most popular among developers, because of the type of project that was [en código abierto y de acceso ciudadano], we were very interested in having the community of developers involved, "explains Borodenkov. To authenticate each of the interactions encrypted through Ethereum, the city of Moscow has its own team of miners in its data centers. That is to say, that unlike the conventional use of the network, these miners are not exercising the function of seeking the hash for a lucrative interest, but rather they are officials making possible a public service.

The integration with Active Citizen was only a first step. In fact, on March 14, a new pilot project was announced that takes the interaction between blockchain and citizens. Hogar Digital proposes to resolve the meetings of neighborhood communities in an online way to save time and avoid having to do them face-to-face. The project has been presented as an expansion of Active Citizen. Andrey Belozerov already thinks about expanding other services: "If it is efficient, we can take it to other spheres, such as the social distribution of wealth."

And he adds a global reflection that speaks of a cordiality in international relations that is very different from what is usually seen between nations. "If Madrid or Tokyo solve a problem with automatic waste management that we learn well in Moscow, we talk to our colleagues and we share the knowledge, just as if Moscow is doing well by integrating the blockchain we will happily teach what we have learned to the cities that ask us. I do not want to comment on international politics, because it's not my function, but I think that between cities there is a really close type of relationship because we are facing the same problems. "

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