5th “Smart Data-Smart Cities” International Conference
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5th “Smart Data-Smart Cities” International Conference

This week I will be participating in the 5th “Smart Data – Smart Cities” international conference. Unfortunately, the event had to be moved online, due to international pandemic context. The event is scheduled on Sep 30th – Oct 2nd, 2020.

Laying the groundwork: blockchain and smart cities

blockchain and smart cities
Blockchain and smart cities

You’ve probably heard more than often buzz words like “smart city”, “intelligent city” or even “digital city” and not necessarily in an academic or tech environment. While these terms may sound catchy, they can also cause ambiguity, making it difficult to understand how blockchain technology can impact the quality of life and the development in a modern city.

I and my researcher colleagues have been trying to comprehend some aspects of what a smart city really means, beyond the fuzziness of the term. Moreover, we narrowed our field of research on how could a city become smart in terms of public procurement, and what would that entail?

Can blockchain eliminate corruption in public tendering procedures?

The theme of my presentation, as well as of the submitted research paper will be “Transparency and Accountability in Urban Public Procurement through the Design of a Self Sovereign Blockchain App”.

The presentation includes conclusions of the research done in various projects, in collaboration with Sînică Alboaie (Technical Manager of PrivateSky project www.privatesky.xyz), Karima Kourtit (Leader of the Department of Smart Cities at the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS),) and Peter Nijkamp (Emeritus Professor in regional and urban economics, and in economic geography at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

The theme evolves around the main integrity problems that usually arise in public tendering and procurement and how Blockchain technology could be a solution:

The elimination of third parties in a tender procedure – the Achilles’ heel in a procurement process – is a major benefit of urban blockchain systems; about half of the corruption acts appear to be caused by the presence of intermediate (third-party) agents. In a blockchain approach, a decentralized and open ledger of records to transact value is employed, based on a peer-to-peer constellation, in which in-between trusted third parties play a role.

Transparency and Accountability in Urban Public Procurement: Design of a Self-Sovereign Blockchain App – Ana Balan, Sînica Alboaie, Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp

Could we, with the use of blockchain technologies and smart contracts eliminate at least in part the corruption and bribery that happen most often at the third party level in tender procedures? How could we improve transparency and accountability in urban public procurement?

The present work extrapolates results and technical solutions that are being implemented in two research projects we’re currently working on at RomSoft, PrivateSky and WeldGalaxy. In short, we advance the possibility to extend the use of self-sovereign apps to the public-private urban procurement area:

In the context of a European-wide project, the PrivateSky project (PrivateSky, 2020a), the notion of a self-sovereign app (SSApp) has been developed. This is a family of decentralized apps designed in the framework of the above mentioned blockchain technology[…].

Transparency and Accountability in Urban Public Procurement: Design of a Self-Sovereign Blockchain App – Ana Balan, Sînica Alboaie, Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp
SSApp concept in open source platform PrivateSky
SSApp Concept in PrivateSky

These applications function like standard web apps, only the data is not stored on a physical server, but inside an encrypted folder which is anchored to the blockchain data structure.

The concept of SSApp is also used in the WeldGalaxy project, where Bid Manager and Tender Offer Manager are such self-sovereign blockchain applications.

In conclusion, the usual fraud methods used in urban public procurement can be fought through the intrinsic qualities of the blockchain technology (distributed, transparent, immutable) but also through the use of SSApps.

If I piqued your interest, you can read the entire paper here.

For more interesting subjects related with smart data and smart cities, you can consult the conference agenda here.

Ana Maria Balan
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Ana Maria Balan
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