Blockchain and Distributed Autonomous Community Ecosystems: Opportunities to Democratize Finance and Delivery of Transport, Housing, Urban Greening and Community Infrastructure

You are here

Blockchain and Distributed Autonomous Community Ecosystems: Opportunities to Democratize Finance and Delivery of Transport, Housing, Urban Greening and Community Infrastructure


This report investigates and develops specifications for using blockchain and distributed organizations to enable decentralized delivery and finance of urban infrastructure. The project explores use cases, including: providing urban greening, street or transit infrastructure; services for street beautification, cleaning and weed or graffiti abatement; potential ways of resource allocation ADU; permitting and land allocation; and homeless housing. It establishes a general process flow for this blockchain architecture, which involves: 1) the creation of blocks (transactions); 2) sending these blocks to nodes (users) on the network for an action (mining) and then validation that that action has taken place; and 3) then adding the block to the blockchain. These processes involve the potential for creating new economic value for cities and neighborhoods through proof-of-work, which can be issued through a token (possibly a graphic non-fungible token), certificate, or possible financial reward. We find that encouraging trading of assets at the local level can enable the creation of value that could be translated into sustainable “mining actions” that could eventually provide the economic backstop and basis for new local investment mechanism or currencies (e.g., local cryptocurrency). These processes also provide an innovative local, distributed funding mechanism for transportation, housing and other civic infrastructure.



William (Billy) Riggs, Ph.D., AICP, LEED AP is a global expert and thought leader in the areas of automation and future transportation, clean technology, urban development and city planning, municipal finance and sustainable He is a professor and program director at the University of San Francisco School of Management. He has worked in venture capital and management consulting and been an advisor to multiple companies and start-ups on technology, engineering, smart mobility and urban development. This follows two decades of experience working as an urban planner, economist, and engineer. He has over 100 publications and has been featured in multiple global media outlets such as the Economist, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Atlantic. Billy is the author of the books End of the Road: Reimagining the Street as the Heart of the City and Disruptive Transport: Driverless Cars, Transport Innovation and the Sustainable City of Tomorrow. Dr. Riggs has been a fellow with the National Science Foundation, sits on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Policy and Law and the Committee on the Landscape and the Built Environment, and is a Trustee of Horicon School District. 


Vipul Vyas is a professor of management at the University of San Francisco, and has been a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for the past 20 years.  He is the Senior Vice President of Vertical Strategy at Persado, an AI platform that uses and transforms language into a growth lever for business, and the co-founder of healthcare start-up SymphonyRM. Vipul has led multiple departments including business development, sales, and products. His teams have engaged clients on strategy, change management, operations, and metric achievement using technology and business process improvement.  He values developing close relationships with clients in order to drive real and lasting change. Vipul has been responsible for creating over $4B+ in trackable benefit for his clients over his career and is named on 10 US patents. He has a BS in management information systems from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.


Menka Sethi is an accomplished senior executive, consultant, and professor in the field of real estate development and finance, sustainable technology and business strategy. She is a member of the senior leadership team at Juno, a San Francisco housing technology startup, an adjunct faculty in real estate at CalPoly San Luis Obispo, and an advisor to numerous companies and organizations. She is the former Chief Operating Officer of American Battery Technology Company, where she the Company’s operational and business strategies that scaled the company from $50MM to $1B in market value, and the former director of housing and location strategy for Facebook where she $1B in housing initiative to advance policy reform to address the housing crisis. She has deep experience in real estate having managed mixed-use, residential, and office development, new construction and leasing projects that ranged from $5 million to $100 million in size, and involved complex entitlement processes, and at times the use of tax credit equity.  Her experience also includes management responsibility for a $230 million leased commercial real estate portfolio for U.S. General Services Administration. Menka is a licensed architect and graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Architecture. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. She is a board member of Alta Housing. 

July 2022
Municipal services
Urban greening



Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: