Blockchain: discovering the potential of new technologies for the citizens of Torino

New ideas and new technologies can open up a world of opportunities that need to be properly used so that everybody has the opportunity to gain digital skills.
In order to do so, researchers, start-ups, innovators, financing bodies and institutions should find their proper role and fit together as pieces of an only jigsaw puzzle. The City of Torino represents a qualified platform able to support innovative companies from the beginning of the process, offering them:

  1. a structured path identifying strategic technologies and its objectives;
  2. expertise provided by local research institutes, university, small and large companies keen to stimulate synergy between the many actors playing a role in this field.

Our aim is to provide innovative investors with an inspiring image where each piece perfectly fits and generates innovation.

Torino is a perfect stage for experimentation, thanks to a good quality of life and to a Municipality which wishes to keep the approach to experimentation simple. The growth of new technologies in Torino will produce a new value for human beings in many fields and sectors.

Some technologies in our road map are already effective and well developed, others have just started. Among them it’s worth mentioning Robotics, Cloud Computing, Big Data, OpenData, 5G protocols and Blockchain. These technologies both refer to the future of industry 4.0, including automation for companies, and to the future of collection, transmission and processing of companies’ and citizens’ data. We call it Smart City vision.

Blockchain technology is a distributed database born and spread as infrastructure for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It is a distributed database as a big ledger on which all data are registered. The recording on Blockchain allows data to be verifiable, tracked and protected by possible alterations. The particular Blockchain infrastructure for cryptocurrencies is a sort of register available to everybody and able to memorize data or transactions between two parties, in a public, permanent, verifiable way, without mediation. Only at a later stage, Blockchain has been developed as a typology of infrastructure on which applications and services are carried out in fields different from the cryptocurrencies.

The Deputy Mayor in charge of Innovation of the City of Torino is analysing the huge impact of the use of Blockchain in order to define a road map of problems to be solved using this technology, e.g. reducing the time of digitalized services, reducing the local authority costs and the consumption of materials (e.g. paper) and, in the meantime, increasing the level of digital skills of employees.

The process of digitalization began many years ago but didn’t much improve the services provided to citizens. Verifying the validity of a document, asking for a certificate or registering documents in an office always require the use of paper and the same old procedures. Today, Blockchain allows to work in a different way. It’s a technology available on the market that can be thoroughly studied. Usually companies use it to track food and guarantee a higher level of security for consumers. Quite a number of local authorities abroad (Estonia in particular) use Blockchain infrastructure to improve its services. Digital identity and signature allow companies to start and manage their business in a fast way, while the e-residency allows a firm or foreign citizens to easily start an activity and pay taxes as any other citizen. In this way, citizens will be able to get documents from registry, land registry, certification offices and manage their personal data according to faster and safer procedures.
The City of Torino, the University of Torino and local stakeholders including ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities) and Casa di Quartiere (House of District) cooperate on the Co-City project which makes use of Blockchain. This interaction between institutions and citizens will help identify goods and common areas to be recovered and for the first time citizens will be given the power to use and channel economic resources. The large experience gained through this project will allow us to start new experimentations involving high-level institutions: the italian Digital Agency (AgID) should supply information on specific infrastructure requirements at general level and on “Sandbox” which will be carried out in cooperation with communities and other local stakeholders.

Record keeping, exchange of documents, public registries, land registry, management process of grants are real issues on which the City of Torino can proceed with experimentation. All of them have been already tested abroad and are the Proof of Concept, a test at national level to get started in Torino.

A single Blockchain will be able to carry out documentary services of public utility in many processes and services of local authorities: because of its generality, the Blockchain infrastructure will become a qualifying technology (as defined by the italian Digital Agency), usable for every service which will be transferred on it: one technology, lots of services in favour of citizens.

 

Paola Pisano, Deputy Mayor for Innovation and Smart City, City of Torino