Argentina never misses a chance to consolidate its reputation as a country of contrasts.
On one hand, there’s a financial crisis and restrictions on foreign currency. On the other, the government is consistently investing in innovative technology.
The latest move is about using blockchain in Santa Fe, an Argentine province, to bring transparency to the way authorities spend public money.
The city of San Lorenzo in Santa Fe will use blockchain to gather votes for projects financed by the area. Citizens will be able to express their choices as part of the participatory budgeting initiative directly online.
Thanks to the implementation of blockchain in Santa Fe, all results, as well as the voting process, will be more transparent. This way, citizens can be confident that the winning projects are indeed the ones that got the highest number of votes (and weren’t pushed through in some backroom deal instead).
The blockchain-based tool is the result of a partnership between the municipality of San Lorenzo, Santa Lab (the public innovation laboratory of the government of Santa Fe), and Virtuágora, a platform that encourages citizen participation in public administration.
The Ethereum blockchain in Santa Fe
The BFA is a multi-service platform built to support dApps and other blockchain-based services. The project aims to provide transparency and all the infrastructure necessary for public initiatives.
One of the main differences between the BFA and other blockchain-based platforms is the fact that no cryptocurrency powers the Argentine solution. All organisations and users that support the network are motivated by the concept of contributing to innovate the system. In this case, collaboration is expected to be more important than tokens.
The project benefits from the support from multiple public institutions, including the civil society, the industry and commerce sector, the academy, the national government, and several provincial governments.
The network is based on Ethereum. All the applications and projects that will be developed on top of it will also act as open-source networks. This way, any person from the community can access and audit the data registered.
How participatory budgeting works in San Lorenzo
Participatory budgeting is a decision-making process that implies encouraging citizens to get involved in public administration. Simply put, ordinary people are asked to vote for projects and decide how authorities allocate part of the federal funds.
Participatory budgeting enables people to prioritise the projects that are more popular or needed the most inside the community. It’s one way in which they have a real voice in deciding where public funds are spent.
Since 2018, the municipality of San Lorenzo has used the pp.sanlorenzo.gob.ar platform to allow citizens to vote for their favourite projects. Here, the local population can decide what projects make up the Participatory Budget of the city each year.
The introduction of the digital vote increased participation by 50% from previous years, according to local authorities.
Now, the municipality is ready to go the extra mile and integrate the BFA solution. Blockchain in Santa Fe will add another layer of reliability to the voting process. From now on, the results will be accessible online in real time, which enables citizens to keep track of the entire process.
As the blockchain can’t be tampered with, the integration with the BFA will provide transparency and build trust in the population of the city.
Santa Fe isn’t the first region to integrate blockchain solutions to increase citizen trust and participation. The province of Misiones and the Marcos Paz municipality have also experimented with this technology. Argentine local authorities use the blockchain for waste management, as well as for encouraging citizens to pay their taxes on time.
Blockchain in Santa Fe will bring transparency to public administration by allowing citizens to track the progress of projects that are voted on and be certain that the process is fair. Based on this vote, the local authorities will direct public funds toward specific initiatives.
This case illustrates how blockchain technology can streamline public administration – an area famous for bureaucracy and inefficiency. It’s an excellent example of best practices that can create a precedent for multiple similar projects. It’s also encouraging to see blockchain finding more and more real-world use cases.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.