Project is exploring the possibilities and limits of digital participation processes

BBBlockchain is a blockchain-based participation platform to investigate how blockchain technology can improve participatory urban planning. BBBlockchain is an Einstein Center Digital Future research project supported by Berlin‘s six municipal housing associations. In late summer 2019 the platform will be tested as part of two urban regeneration projects of the DEGEWO and GEWOBAG.

The aim is to explore whether transparency and trust in planning processes can be increased by using blockchain technology. The ability to store data decentrally without the need for a governing central authority and the immutable nature of the data stored are the two components promising significant advantages for underlying urban participation processes. Published information related to the participation processes will be permanently disclosed via the platform with very substantial obstacles to manipulate the data retrospectively. To ensure that the information provided is easily accessible and understandable, an app based digital interface is currently under development for the BBBlockchain. All stakeholders can therefore rely on the information provided by the respective stakeholders and can see them in context of the development process.

In addition, the project explores the feasible extent of direct democracy to be included in participation processes. Blockchain technology allows to eliminate the need for intermediary authorities in decision-making processes. So-called smart contracts based on if-then rules are deployed for this purpose. As soon as a contractually defined condition is met, the predetermined subsequent action is automatically executed. In the research project, this function is being tested in various polls and votes.

The online platform covers the following features:

– Documentation utilising secure timestamping
– Procedural document management
– Feedback function
– Social media integration
– Opinion polls and voting
– Use of tokens, e.g. for participatory budgets