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Moscow pilots blockchain e-voting

Andrey Belozerov, Strategy and Innovations Advisor to the CIO of Moscow

Moscow has launched a pilot project that incorporates blockchain in its e-voting system, Active Citizen.

The programme allows citizens to influence city management decisions and Moscow’s urban transformation. Since its launch in 2014 it has attracted more than 1.9 million users, with around 2,800 polls conducted.

“Muscovites are always demanding and asking the authorities to do more,” Andrey Belozerov, Strategy and Innovations Advisor to the CIO of Moscow, told Cities Today. “However, it was our own initiative to introduce blockchain-based e-voting in order to create a higher transparency level for citizens and at the same time to test the capacity of the system for further implementation.”

The city says that by downloading the blockchain software, every citizen can become a node of a peer-to-peer network and be able to record and store the database of votes. Belozerov said the aim is to attract more citizens to influence city management.

Active Citizen allows Muscovites to decide on a wide range of city issues including new public transport routes or the introduction of speed limits in the city centre.

“Our motto is, ‘The city entrusts you to decide’. We believe that blockchain will improve the credibility of city referendums as everyone will be able to record and store the database of votes,” he added.

According to Belozerov, Moscow is the first city to introduce blockchain on a large and permanent scale, and he and his team are also interested in monitoring the experience of Dubai, which seeks to transfer its government to blockchain by 2020.

Based on the results of the pilot project, the city will analyse other areas for implementing blockchain. The top priorities are to set the fields and areas where transparency and data security are in most demand, and optimise and lower the workload of city centralised data storages.

“Some call blockchain ‘the technology of trust’,” he explained. “Now, every user will be able to validate any database update collectively [without relying on one single computer]. Everyone will own the same copy of the public ledger, thus enhancing security and trust. I believe that we need to bring trust between government and citizens to an essentially new level. Blockchain is the way to do it.”