RMIT’s Answer to Revitalising the Melbourne CBD is a DAO

RMIT’s Answer to Revitalising the Melbourne CBD is a DAO
Image: file photo

What does Melbourne’s CBD and blockchain have in common? Nothing, but RMIT wants to change that.

A new report from RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre has said Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs), including a Docklands DAO, could revitalise precincts in the Melbourne CBD. There’s a lot to break down here.

RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub was stood up to probe the possibilities of blockchain in Aussie life. The Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre are also looking towards new technologies and their application in the real world.

Meanwhile, the most common agreed upon definition of a DAO is that it is an organisation represented by rules encoded as a transparent computer program, controlled by the organisation members and not influenced by a central government. As the rules are embedded into the code, no managers are needed, thus removing any bureaucracy or hierarchy hurdles.

In a DAO, decisions and choices are governed by holders of one kind of cryptocurrency token, such as a Docklands Dollar (I made that up). DAOs also use “smart contracts” that make decisions through online votes by all participants who wish to weigh in and other forms of automation.

DAOs are essentially clubs that harness both crowdfunding and cryptocurrency to operate in arenas from art to sports. They are also cropping up in philanthropy.

But a Docklands DAO? Well, the RMIT report says precincts within Melbourne’s CBD, such as the Docklands, could pilot a new type of digital economic infrastructure. This economic infrastructure would see local retail, residential and commercial tenants “come together to collect and utilise people flow and other data that would help all stakeholders optimise resource allocation, increase efficiency and ultimately revitalise the city”.

In basic terms, a small city made up of buildings, homes, shops, people that have its own tender and an exchange of data.

The report identifies the key challenges for the Docklands (ones it thinks can be solved though DAO-ing it). They are: retailers/food & beverage businesses cannot forecast inventory and perishable stock due to large working-from-home populations; the negative economic impact from tenant rental discounts and vacancies; and that the Docklands is disconnected from Melbourne CBD.

“The beauty of a DAO is that it provides greater levels of transparency, openness and democratic governance so every member of the DAO (the community) has a voice and voting power,” the report’s author Dr Max Parasol said.

“DAOs are being successfully spun up around the world and now is the time to really stamp our mark not only as an emerging digital city but this is also a great opportunity to make the Docklands a thriving place to live, work and visit.”

Well there you go.