But the idea of using blockchain as a decentralized infrastructure layer for smart cities is entirely credible, and already being explored in forward-thinking hubs like Singapore. One critical challenge is that, for existing cities, it will involve a massive exercise in retrofitting existing infrastructure to new technology. But for new centers of industry and commerce, blockchain infrastructure can be incorporated from the beginning.
Enter the smart chain city, a concept being pioneered by Brazilian enterprise Polo Multimodal Pecém in partnership with Swiss accelerator Blockchain Propulsion. Crypto Briefing met up with Blockchain Propulsion founder Stefan Deiss at the recent Crypto Valley Conference in Zug, to find out the details.
Pecém – A Strategic Location for a Smart Chain City
The Port of Pecém is located on the coast of Brazil, around an hour away from the city of Fortaleza. Although the port has long been an important shipping hub, in 2016 Pecém gained a massive advantage due to the expansion of the Panama Canal. The size of the canal determines the size of the ships that pass through it, and the canal can now accommodate vessels carrying twice as much cargo than before.
But these bigger ships also require deeper water. With a depth of 18 meters, Pecém expects significantly more traffic over the coming years. The city also has road and rail links, making it a desirable location as a transport and logistics hub.
A group of savvy Brazilian entrepreneurs saw this coming more than a decade ago and started buying up 20 million square meters (5,000 acres) of land in the Pecém region. Now, Polo Multimodal Pecém has an ambitious, multi-decade plan to develop this land into an international shipping, industrial and commercial hub, and the first-ever smart chain city.
The majority of the land, 7.7 million square meters, will be allocated to industry and logistics. The rest will be split between commercial, residential, space for renewable energy sources, as well as a brand-new aerodrome.
Blockchain will be used as an infrastructure layer running throughout the smart chain city. Given that the technology is already being widely deployed in the transport and logistics space, it’s easy to imagine the value this can bring to the project overall.
Bringing It to Life
The partnership with Blockchain Propulsion is enabling Polo Multimodal Pécem to launch a security token offering (STO) to help fund the project. According to Blockchain Propulsion’s founder, funding is one of the biggest challenges facing blockchain startups right now, due to the fact that so many don’t have a sound business case.
Of the partnership, Deiss said:
The partners are working with the token issuance platform Token Factory to launch the STO, which will be targeted predominantly at Swiss investors.
Will It Work?
It’s undoubtedly an ambitious project. However, unlike the Akon and Berns “crypto-city” visions, the Polo Multimodal Pecém project has a solid use case. It’s backed up by real-world developments and data demonstrating current demand and future economic growth.
Furthermore, the “crypto-city” concept requires buy-ins from businesses and residents to the very idea of blockchain and cryptocurrency. The vision for Pecém is that blockchain will operate as part of the underlying infrastructure.
The average resident or worker in the smart chain city doesn’t need to understand anything about the technology – it will just be there, making things run. The blockchain will be as ubiquitous yet invisible as telecommunications infrastructure is to the average smartphone user.
Perhaps when we talk of adoption, this is what the future will really look like.