At iCapps, innovation is always at the forefront of our mind. We are continuously on the lookout for projects, hackathons and events that give us the chance to improve our knowledge of new technologies.
Blockchain (introduced in a previous blog) is one of those promising new technologies. But the knowledge and skills you need to truly understand and implement blockchain are not to be underestimated. All the more reason to grasp every opportunity to work on our blockchain expertise!
A recent initiative that crossed our path was Blockchain for Antwerp, organized by Stad Antwerpen in collaboration with Digipolis. Inspired by some of our own, not always positive, experiences living in an apartment building in Antwerp, we pitched our idea, Synd-e-cus… and grabbed the first prize!
A Smart City
Some background: Antwerp aims to become a ‘City a Things’ or a ‘Smart City’ - a testing ground for new technologies, in which companies, researchers, people living in Antwerp and the City of Antwerp itself can experiment with smart technologies to contribute to a smarter, more sustainable city life. As part of this aim, Antwerp set up a ‘Smart Zone’ in which Smart City projects are implemented and tested. A real life technology lab, so to speak. The challenge of Blockchain for Antwerp: presenting a creative but realistic concept that integrates blockchain technology into the Smart City and which can be implemented in the Smart Zone.
Replacing the Middle Man in Apartment Management via Synd-e-cus
Anyone who owns an apartment probably shares this feeling: the ‘syndicus’ (the official organ that represents the co-owners of an apartments building) is a costly, non-transparent and very slow-moving thing. Like us, you may be frustrated by the slow and bureaucratic procedures that have to be followed. And you may wonder if you aren’t paying too much. Or, in any case, more than you would if there was no ‘syndicus’.
Which brings us to blockchain: one of the promises of blockchain is that it will create a world without middlemen. No more bank managers, no more notaries… and no more ‘syndicus’? In its place: a blockchain-based platform which offers full control and full transparency to the apartment owners. It allows the co-owners of a building to see how much money is in their the shared account and what it is being spent on. It also encourages apartment owners to work together as a more close-knit community and take up responsibility for the maintenance of their properties. And finally, blockchain can also be used to vote and to reach shared decisions: a quick and efficient method which can be used whenever an issue arises.
But not just apartment owners would benefit from Synd-e-cus. The platform also offers major benefits for the City of Antwerp: they would be able to see which buildings or which neighbourhoods invest the most and could set up action plans accordingly.
“Blockchain for Antwerp”: Voting via Blockchain
During the first round of Blockchain for Antwerp, all participants could pitch their ideas during a meetup at Digipolis Antwerp. Among the participants were companies who are already using blockchain as an integral part of their services - tough competitors, in other words!
Everyone who attended the meetup could vote. Fitting the context, a bot developed by Digipolis was used to vote...via blockchain. The three best projects - including iCapps - proceeded to the final round: another pitch (this time also attended by a professional jury) and another voting round via blockchain. Maarten’s dynamic pitch convinced the voters that Synd-e-cus was the best idea, grabbing the first prize!
So what’s next? Smart City will decide which of the participating projects are most interesting to integrate in Antwerp’s Smart Zone. To be continued?