Can NFTs Fix Our Roads?
If you live in Louisiana, you have certainly dealt with your fair share of potholes. You are probably also familiar with the painstaking delays which accompany filling them. As a result, New Orleans entrepreneurs have employed a new technology, known as non-fungible tokens, to address the issue themselves.
Non-fungible tokens, commonly referred to as NFTs, are simply a digital representation of digital or physical assets. These NFTs are shown on a digital ledger, known as the blockchain, which also displays who the owner of that token is. This allows for verification of ownership on the digital ledger which was previously impossible in earlier versions of the internet.
If people are familiar with NFTs it’s most often as digital art, but they can be used for far more than that. They can be used to create digital representations of real-world objects on the blockchain — potholes in this case.
These entrepreneurs plan to address the New Orleans pothole problem by using NFTs like this. Anyone in New Orleans can submit a pothole that plagues their street to a website. If an NFT artist confirms that a pothole exists, they can turn it into an NFT. The NFT of the pothole is then listed for sale online and the proceeds for the sale will be used to fill in the pothole.
The use of NFTs to address the city’s road problems comes with two distinct advantages over the current structure. Foremost, it provides “ownership” over potholes and empowers a community to come together to address this problem, rather than simply waiting on the government. The person buying the pothole NFT can display it digitally and showcase their investment in the community. One can think of it as a digital “adopt a highway” program for potholes.
The other benefit of creating NFTs is transparency and accountability. Because NFTs are easily publicly available on the blockchain, both the public and government officials can see the state of streets in the community.
Rather than having to call the city government and asking for a pothole to be fixed, where you may or may not get a response to your request, creating an NFT removes all doubt of its existence and puts it right in front of the government’s eyes. Instead of a black box of government bureaucracy, the process is now radically transparent.
Of course, needing individuals to rely on personal resources to fix the road issue is less than ideal. A functioning road system where potholes don’t sit for years should not be out of reach to the citizens of this state. Nonetheless, a project like this is still important.
This type of program is an experiment in good governance for blockchain technology. If a few entrepreneurs can document and fill potholes on the blockchain, why can’t other local governments also utilize this technology to identify and resolve infrastructure problems in their communities?
Potholes being filled is just one example of the societal benefits of NFTs and associated technology. There is no shortage of potential innovations that can empower both the public and private sectors. That is why it’s important that Louisiana pass policies that allow for innovation with this new technology, rather than looking to overregulate like New York and other states have.
It’s unlikely that every pothole in New Orleans will be filled with this NFT project. But even if just a few potholes are filled, it will be an important step toward utilizing innovation for the betterment of our communities.