The City of South Burlington and the Toronto-based artificial intelligence/ blockchain company Consensus announced the official launch today of a groundbreaking app using blockchain technology to gather real-time feedback from residents about municipal issues. The Consensus app is the first blockchain-based citizen engagement platform in use by a city government in the U.S. The app pushes questions the city government generates to users in real-time and seamlessly feeds their responses to city leaders. This allows people to voice concerns or register their satisfaction quickly and directly to the city government on a wide variety of issues, from paving schedules and commutes to parks and recreation options.
The new Consensus app was unveiled at the South Burlington City Hall today. City Council Chair Helen Riehle, City Manager Kevin Dorn, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, Consensus Founder and CEO Oleg Gutsol, and Consensus Chief Strategy Officer Dustin Plett all attended the announcement. They invited South Burlington residents to get involved and make their voices heard by downloading the app, responding to survey questions, and giving Consensus and the City feedback about improving the app. The free Consensus app is now available for Apple and Android users in the iTunes Store and in Google Play, and via a link on https://sb.consensus.ai/.
City and state government leaders touted the Consensus app as an invaluable and innovative tool for the city to keep its pulse on residents’ concerns, as well as another sign of the City’s competitiveness in attracting tech jobs to Vermont.
Riehle explained that “effective government leaders” need “timely, informed and thoughtful feedback from residents.” She characterized the feedback the City will receive through the Consensus app “so important to our form of representative government.” Attorney General TJ Donovan added that the “bold leadership” shown by South Burlington leaders in adopting the Consensus pilot project would allow the City to be “more responsive, more competitive” and to increase access to government.
Consensus, the company that developed the app, also highlighted the Consensus app’s value as a secure tool to improve citizen engagement and enable rapid decision-making in government. Plett called the pilot “an incredibly innovative initiative” to foster citizen engagement and improve democracy. He added that the three- to four- month pilot would allow Consensus to test user adoption and scalability of the secure Consensus app while preparing for its commercial launch. Plett confirmed that the Consensus app includes security features that protect users’ personal information and “ensures no outside influences” affect or corrupt residents’ votes.
Blockchain supporters who gathered for the launch echoed the enthusiasm of Consensus’ developers and the government officials at the launch. The “race is on for states to attract blockchain companies,” said David Thelander, Special Counsel at Gravel & Shea PC, which aided Consensus in landing the pilot in South Burlington. Thelander noted that the City of South Burlington had distinguished itself as a leader in that race, including through its earlier partnership with Propy to complete the first U.S. real estate transaction conducted entirely on the blockchain. “Our firm, and the rest of the blockchain industry, are eager to see how this pilot helps improve blockchain products and paves the way for their use by cities, states, and towns,” Thelander added.
Those interested in downloading the Consensus app or getting more information about the pilot project are encouraged to visit https://sb.consensus.ai/.