“Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”
― Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner author
Colombia did not have a reliable rural land register until the arrival of blockchain technology back in 2016. At that time it was impossible to think that institutions like notaries and real estate agencies could be changed for digital algorithms. It is curious that this revolutionary idea that today allows us to register and trade real estate assets both locally and across borders, without the bureaucratic pains of the past, has emerged in a country more known for its troubles with guerrillas and narcotraffickers than for the development technological solutions. But the peace agreements that end more than 50 years of conflict between leftist guerrillas and government military forces back in 2016 were the trigger to consolidate a vision of new government infrastructure for the peace in Colombia, in an era of new technological resources. At the same time, skilled Colombian professionals forced to move abroad for a better future found in this opportunity the chance to apply their knowledge to rebuild the state infrastructures and experiment with state-of-the-art technologies.
As @DavidShrier, Managing Director of MIT Connection Science, said 10 years ago as a mentor of the startup:
“This idea couldn’t happen in the Silicon Valley, just because the market fit was more suitable in Colombia or other countries where they still don’t have a reliable solution of real estate titulation. So I will be excited to see how this concept could be applied in the rest of the world”
(This quote is not real, only invites the eager of trying.)
This is how a group of entrepreneurs and blockchain enthusiast came up with a solution to prove the ownership of land that was in dispute, caused by the irregular appropriation and selling of land during the armed conflict. This was the initial way in which Colombia solved one of the problems of structural inequality by setting up a transparent and reliable system for the registration of land.
It first started as a cyber activism campaign promoting the idea of rebuilding the ownership history of land for people displaced by the war. The idea became popular through the help of displaced civic organization, which spread the idea to more than 6 million victims of land displacement. Thousands of victims started to use this technology as a repository of evidence, which also helped historians and human rights organizations assemble the puzzled history of human displacement and illegal appropriation of lands.
This whole campaign provoked a social empathy with the victims, and made new governments think more seriously about reforming the whole process of land and real estate titulation, which could reduce the bureaucratic cost and improve the security and transparency of the registry. This success story of the application of blockchain technology as infrastructure for peace inspire other governments with similar problems to implement the same principles and technology. Today, Coland System is used in more than 65 countries. It has helped governments to apply better urban planning programs and open the real estate market to the whole world.
Thanks to the peace agreements in Syria, Coland System has been assigned to restore the historical damage of the war to the original land and real estate owners that had to leave everything behind because of the war. Just as it happened 10 years ago in Colombia, Syrian government expects to rebuild trust among the exiled population, and start healing the wounds of war.
We are a group of people that believe that blockchain technologies can enable a more secure, transparent and optimal way to register land property rights in countries with unreliable systems like Colombia.