One issue for “Smart Cities” is enticing citizens to use city services, particularly those that are available via an app. Some of these services/apps can bring a return on investment to the city and value to the citizen. Many Smart City app deployments have failed because they were not used. As cities move to Smart City “platforms”and “suites” to provide services, this can be a problem, as repeat and continuous use of apps is often low, with one article stating that approximately ¼ users abandon an application after one use and users who open an app more than eleven times is in the 30% - 40% range. The problem will worsen, as Georgia Institute of Technology’s whitepaper “Driving New Modes of IoT-Facilitated Citizen/UserEngagement” lists uses cases in water, waste, smart electric grid, public care, safe city, amenity services, traffic, lighting, parking, and home care.
Incentivization has shown to be a possible solution. Recently, British Columbia, Canada piloted an app which used loyalty points to incentivize positive activity for change of modifiable health behavior, with the return on investment to the Canadian governments being lower healthcare costs (where Canadian governments bear the cost of health care).
As Smart Cities evolve, each is building a suite of Smart City apps for its citizens, where non-use means no return on investment. Most Smart City apps rely on citizen loyalty/motivation. Some other direct incentives have been additional in-app content, gamification, and some reward points. Some problems with those incentives are limited use of the rewards and administration of the rewards (apps typically each have their own non-transferable reward and the rewards require administration). Often the administration is left to the application owner or city staff.
This proposal is for an incentive app that would incentivize citizens to use the Smart City apps by use of cryptocurrency as the reward, and “smart contracts” to minimize overhead for city administration or application owners. Of course this would only make sense in circumstances where the “smart city” apps have some economic value to the city, and should be done in proportion to that economic value.
Ethereum, a "smart contract" cryptocurrency (the second largest next to bitcoin), can be used to purchase a variety of goods, or even converted to dollars. It is the basis of the prototype shown in the image and discussed in the attachments.
The general approach is to take an existing Smart City app (eg an app centered around a city service or provides that enables a city to improve service) and would take the following steps:
1. Select a Smart City app and determine the target incentive activity
For example, the above mentioned Canadian pilot app employed loyalty points to influence health behaviors references risk factors with modifiable behaviors of not getting a flu shot last year and physical inactivity. A payment amount might be some cryptocurrency on a per event basis (ie a receiving a flu shot). A payment amount might be some cryptocurrency on a time basis (ie per hour of activity).
Within a city context, one of the higher expenditures in a city budget and source of complaints is transportation infrastructure. Shaving traffic during peak periods is a frequently cited resolution, with public transportation being a cited method to reduce vehicle count during those peak periods.
2. Modify the existing Smart City app to capture the incentivized target behavior of users
The existing application is updated to provide direct or indirect information to monitor and communicate the target activity within the Smart City app.
Generally,the incentive would fall into one of two categories:
2.1. Incentivizing the activity for amounts of time – For instance, target incentive behavior for a pothole monitoring/mapping/alert application might be increased usage of the app while driving around the city. That application might be modified to monitor and communicate time usage of the app within a “geofence” of the city limits.
2.2. Incentivizing the activity for on a per event basis – This might make sense for a Miami-Dade Transit Tracker type app. Where the target behavior is x rides per month during rush hour, the app might be modified to monitor/communicate usage event information, perhaps documenting it with a QR code on a Civiq kiosk at the downtown station or event center.
For example, where the payment basis is an event basis, the Smart City app should be modified to submit the event occurrence information to the smart contract. Where the payment basis is a time basis, the smart city app should be modified to monitor usage and submit periodic time usage information to the smart contract.
3. Periodically submit Smart City app usage events for loyalty rewards in the form of cryptocurrency.