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“Truly innovative projects are those that allow access of all agents of the ecosystem to the most modern technologies and exponents, in all its forms. This is what we are building at the Polo Multimodal: through the use of innovative engineering we will promote the true social revolution,” states Polo Multimodal, the firm building a “Smart Chain City” on Brazil’s northeast coast.
“Smart Chain City” may be a new term for many, who may also see it as a crude amalgamation of “smart city” and “blockchain”. That’s exactly what a smart chain city is, a smart city that utilizes blockchain to provide greater transparency, cybersecuirty, and efficiency to a host of urban, business, and social systems. Large-scale blockchain deployments are not new, in fact Estonia and Singapore have already established national level pilot projects built on the technology. Polo Multimodal, however, is pushing the “Smart Chain City” title to differentiate it’s self from the rest.
The project is to be built on approximately 20 square kilometers of private land, which is about a third the size of Manhattan, but split over 4 separate plots including one for a future airport. All plots are located along the BR-222 highway near the Port of Pecém, in the State of Ceará. Well connected by road to Brazil’s resource extraction and manufacturing hubs, as well as major consumer centers, offering strong import and export potential. A railway line also connects the four plots with the port and the national network, giving the project its rail-road-air-sea “multimodal” transport status.
The port’s location in northeast Brazil makes it very attractive for the shorter shipping times to and from North America, Europe, and Africa. In fact, the strategic Atlantic location has long been utilized by the telecomunicaions industry as a gateway for most of the submarine cables connecting Brazil to the rest of the world. Meaning easy access to high-speed internet and modern data-centers for residents and businesses of the future development. All-in-all, a strong proposition even before we get to the smart chain city technology.
The smart city, as a concept, promises to enhance the quality and performance of urban services by connecting everything and adding intelligence these systems. All too often however, this connectivity is brings vulnerabilities that undermine the very reasons for implementing smart technology in the first place. Cybersecurity is necessary but not fool-proof and often increases inefficiency, that’s where blockchain comes in.
Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger, where a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, are linked and secured across a broad network. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority – making it very difficult to corrupt or manipulate data once recorded.
Blockchain therefore allows secure transactions to take place transparently and in an instant, hence its most commonly known use as a currency trading system. The financial sector, who were initially cautious of blockchain have now wholly embraced it, with almost every major bank exploring and developing the technology in one way or another. The blockchain is not just about money however, it supports transactions and recording of all kinds. Another early adopter was the logistics industry, who will no doubt be excited by a multimodal smart city built on blockchain.
Blockchain will be used as an infrastructure layer running throughout the smart chain city. The majority of the land, 7.7 square kilometers, asigned to industry and logistics. The rest will be divided between commercial, residential, on-site renewable energy generation, in addition to an airport that is expected in later phases. Blockchain is expected to seemlessly, transparently, and efficiently handle most, if not all, commerical, industrial, and consumer transactions through open ledgers and smart contracts.
Blockchain has shown the potential to revolutionize our energy system by offering a system of transactions that can cope with even the most dynamic demand-response platforms, creating efficiency and greater opportunity for renewable resources. Blockchain also promises to foster trust and support the sharing economy in our urban environments, as discussed in a 2018 Memoori article, part of a series on blockchain.
It is more than a decade since a group of savvy Brazilian entrepreneurs foresaw the rising importance of this relatively remote deep-water port. The recent expansion of the the panama canal will bring bigger ships into the Atlantic, offering multimodal Pecém the chance to become a gateway for Pacific as well as Atlantic routes. The strong connectivty and data-storage environment offers a platform for a data-enabled logistics uptopia with blockchain at its heart. However, it is still early days for this pioneering project.
The development company has recently entered into a partnership with Swiss accelerator Blockchain Propulsion to launch a security token offering (STO) to help fund the project. “Blockchain Propulsion has high standards for projects enrolled in its accelerator program, and Polo Multimodal Pecém has exceeded these criteria. The plan to build this blockchain-powered city is now being spearheaded by a consortium of experienced blockchain entrepreneurs.” Blockchain Propulsion founder Stefan Deiss told Crytobriefing in an interview.
A Smart Chain City is just a Smart City that utilizes blockchain, just as it does many other technologies. However, if blockchain can be as revolutionary as it promises then it will make smart chain cities significantly different from the average smart city, and therefore warrant its own title. The emerging data age has been turbulent so far, fraught with hacks, data breaches, and trust issues. These blockchain projects are beginning to demonstrate a solution built on transparency, security and efficiency that has potential far beyond small-scale greenfield industry-focused developments.