We won the Austrian Blockchain Award for “HotCity”!

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash.

The so-called Plus-Energy districts, which produce more energy as they consume, are characterized by a high degree of supply of heating, cooling, and electricity from renewable energy sources that are locally available. Therefore to find these kinds of energy sources, it is necessary to develop Plus-Energy districts. Waste heat from industries like foundries or food production, and commerce like data centers or supermarkets, can make an essential contribution to heating and hot water production in Plus-Energy districts.

While these "low-hanging-fruits" sources of heat are already widely known, the identification of smaller sources is associated with various difficulties, such as not up-to-date data and not sufficiently spatially detailed. Therefore, smaller sources are not recorded, so they do not appear in the databases.

HotCity has found a way to obtain data with crowdsourcing on a voluntary and playful basis using gamification secured by blockchain technology.

Thus, in contrast to the current, traditional top-down approach, an innovative bottom-up approach based on gamification is tested to collect meaningful data sets for energy-oriented neighborhood planning in Vienna and Graz.

How does HotCity work?

Citizens collect data from (small) heat sources via gamification through on-site inspections, photos, Google Maps, research on the company website, etc., which allows HotCity to draw conclusions about the quality and quantity of waste heat sources.

The gamification system includes different types of reward points (bronze, silver, and gold), as well as badges and vouchers. Citizens receive bronze points for simple activities like submitting a photo. The player gets additional silver points when other players, an expert, or AI verifies the waste heat source. If the player reaches an extraordinary achievement, he receives gold points. The entire gamification ecosystem is secured on the Ardor Blockchain, on which the reward points are represented as digital assets recorded on the blockchain (also referred to as tokens). Players can also exchange the reward points for vouchers, which are also secured on the blockchain. The blockchain technology plays a crucial role in avoiding fraud while allowing transparency in the management and governance of the reward points.

The Consortium

The group of partners behind HotCity consists of different companies and research institutions led by the renowned AIT (Austrian Institute of Technology). The AIT develops methods for analyzing the waste heat potentials and estimating their economic efficiency. Picapipe GmbH developed the gamification metrics and blockchain handling. Digital Sunray is responsible for the development of the users' app, and Graz Energy Agency contributes its expertise in the field of energy systems.

The result of the project is a functional prototype that allows collecting data sets by gamification in a cost-efficient, quick, and reliable way. Furthermore, the project enables the generation of energy-relevant data for neighborhood planning using standard hardware and software. It incorporates an algorithm that automatically determines the economic feasibility of waste heat utilization based on consumer data. This approach is more precise than usual top-down methods and contributes to raising awareness in the population.

The project HotCity is funded by the BMK (the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology) via the program "City of the future 5th call" processed by the FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency).