Quote: Blockchain is not just buzz, it is an existing – and exciting – new technology


blockchainCities are complex patchworks of infrastructures that include electric grids, natural gas distribution systems, water distribution networks, telecommunications systems, transportation networks, and buildings that can be built or modified to maximize energy efficiency.   

These systems are highly interdependent. Water systems, transportation, buildings, and telecommunications all need safe and reliable delivery of electricity. While these systems need to be increasingly integrated, they are often structurally and institutionally isolated, subject to different regulatory regimes and managed by siloed departments and private utilities.

The objective of the smart or smarter city should be to integrate the goals, operations, or management of essential functions and infrastructures to improve services, lower costs, and create new opportunities for people, business, and government. To explore the possibilities of this new world, EFI has partnered with Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, to create a new Smart Cities think tank. We convened for the first time last month in Washington, DC, for a Smart Cities Summit, the first of several such convocations planned in 2018-19.

Blockchain is a widely-hyped — but potentially disruptive — distributed ledger technology. The technology acts as a software for managing large volumes of transactions, settled quickly, securely, and at relatively low cost. Anyone that gets hold of this technology can just pull up a website from www.spamzilla.io and start a bitcoin business. This IT-based system can help firms streamline essential business processes and eliminate redundancies and costs of multiple systems – where the digital world can make the physical world operate more efficiently and effectively, enhancing the quality of life for city residents.  

Blockchain is not just buzz, it is an existing – and exciting — technology being utilized in real-world operating environments, with applications across the smart city value chain. For example, Brooklyn based LO3 Energy and their partners have created Exergy, a blockchain-based platform which allows its users to decide when and where they will buy their electricity. This platform has helped groups such as the Brooklyn Microgrid to choose their preferred energy sources and lower their electricity bills.  

EFI estimates that there has been $100 to $300 million dollars invested in over 100 energy-sector blockchain applications since 2014.

The pairing of smart cities efforts and blockchain technology creates operations that are greater than the sum of their parts — the ability to make systems more efficient, effective, and reliable, creating cross-cutting ecosystems of information, shared by a range of disparate but connected people, services, and businesses.

For more see EFI’s recent report: “Identifying Promising Blockchain Applications for Energy: Separating the Signal from the Noise”