Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and city officials are promoting blockchain technology allegedly to increase transparency in government. An initial effort is to put the city’s records for historic properties onto a blockchain ledger. The city in June announced it was partnering with a private company.
“Previously, as the mayor has alluded to, a lot of these have been in bankers boxes, so ease of access to the public is really important here, as well as clarity with the blockchain process,” said the city’s Nic Ciccone. “The blockchain process ensures that each step in that process actually happens.”
Even if BlockApps ceases to exist, the infrastructure for the blockchain should still remain intact, Powell added. “The city could always retain that data. That’s their property. At the moment there are no fees at all.”
He said it was impossible to say how much future efforts will cost.
The records were made public last week after initially being promoted just before the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June.
Though city officials said the original list would include 14 properties, 21 are listed on the city’s website to date.
“For now the focus will be on adding visuals and giving residents a better idea of what changes have been made to each of the properties on the City’s historic registry,” city officials said.
Effort ‘riddled with errors’
City officials emphasized the effort is about transparency and accessibility, but its own historic resources commissioners were not included in the effort.
City spokesperson Rebecca Venis said the technology does not impact what the city’s historic resources commission does.
Reno historian Alicia Barber, who used to serve on the commission, said she warned city officials they should proceed with caution because the city’s documents are incomplete and not self-explanatory.
“When the Mayor first announced this blockchain project in June, I immediately wrote to City staff and advised them to consult with the City’s Historical Resources Commission before they went any further with it,” she said. “That wasn’t just as a courtesy, it’s because the documents related to the register and the Certificate of Appropriateness process aren’t self-explanatory or complete.
“The City didn’t follow my advice, unfortunately, and as a result, the portal they created is just embarrassingly inaccurate, with errors on practically every page,” she added