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DAOs: The key to revitalising Australia’s CBDs?

By Juliet Helmke
14 April 2022 | 1 minute read

New research has suggested a novel way of supporting struggling central business district precincts by bringing together local businesses and other invested parties through the collection and analysis of data.

The report – which was authored by RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, the Centre for Cyber Security Research & Innovation, and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre – looks specifically at Melbourne’s Docklands and how the creation of a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) could help neighbourhood stakeholders better understand the ways in which the area is being used by the public.

A DAO is essentially a group of independent people or businesses who enter into a contract to reach a coordinated goal.

RMIT’s report investigates how the Docklands is perfectly placed to pilot a type of digital economic infrastructure wherein local retail, residential and commercial tenants could collectively gather and use data on people flow to help everyone manage resource allocation and increase efficiency.

Dr Max Parasol from the RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub said the Docklands would be an ideal precinct for the first proposed pilot, which he believed would show how a DAO can help businesses adapt to the new normal brought about by the pandemic.

“A Docklands DAO would encourage community buy-in and engagement as a way to regenerate the precinct,” he said.  

“The beauty of a DAO is that it provides greater levels of transparency, openness and democratic governance so every member of the DAO has a voice and voting power.

“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.” 

The report identified the key challenges that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Docklands are currently facing:

  • Retailers and food and beverage businesses can not forecast inventory and perishable stock due to large working-from-home populations
  • COVID-19 has had a negative economic impact on commercial vacancies
  • The area is disconnected from Melbourne CBD

The report proposes two trial stages for assessing the effectiveness of a DAO in helping SMEs adjust to changing needs.

Stage 1 involves the collection of people flow and other data to be analysed with clear, tangible outputs.

In stage 2, the Docklands DAO would become the gatekeeper of all collected data and use it to value-add to the precinct through generating cost reductions, optimising resource allocations and increasing efficiencies.

The report also proposed the implementation of a “Docklands DAO digital currency”, which could be easily converted to Australian dollars.

Jason Potts, co-director of the Blockchain Innovation Hub, explained that the project would involve the implementation of a new digital economic infrastructure, but that it’s ultimately a community-building exercise.

“While there is a novel technology aspect to what this report proposes, in reality, the technology is just a vehicle for a new approach to community-led and community-owned discovery of new resources and opportunities with which we can continuously reinvent the local economies that make up our cities, and that has never been more important than right now,” Mr Potts said.

DAOs: The key to revitalising Australia’s CBDs?
Melbourne Docklands reb
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Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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