Blockchain and Governments
Exploring Uses of Technology
With the rise of cryptocurrencies, awareness around the technology supporting blockchain is increasing. However, governments are late to embrace cloud computing. This approach is due to challenges with deciphering the model, lack of suitable procurement options, and slow adoption. Now, most recently governments appear to be engaging actively with its potential use.
Their interest spurs intensive industry research in the blockchain’s decentralized nature and possible applications. Several governments have announced the appointment of task forces to explore the use of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology at local levels in an effort to reduce corruption in education and land title registries.
In line with this, Kenyan ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru recently explained, “We cannot ignore it [blockchain technology] as a country but we also cannot rush into it. We don’t have to be first mover, but definitely not last mover.”
A blockchain is a distributed “chain” of validated transactions secured through cryptographic hashing. Thus it has become a trusted ledger of transactions. Each block added is stored with a timestamp and transaction data along with a cryptographic hash pointer to the previous block. The same technology can be used to identify mobile devices, determining whether each is valid for use inside corporate systems.
In late 2017, began a pilot test using blockchain technology on portions of its “Active Citizen” initiative. The objective was to increase transparency and improve local voting systems. Russia’s state-run bank, Sberbank, announced a partnership with Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to implement document transfer and storage via blockchain.
At the same time, through Catena, Canada’s NRC IRAP is using the exploring the use of public blockchains in the transparent administration of government grants and contributions. It is a proactive effort to publish grants and contribution data in real-time. It will also compliment ongoing quarterly proactive disclosures already available through the Open Government website.
Department of Homeland Security United States recently awarded its first blockchain contract to Food & Drug Administration issued a “sources sought” notice late in 2017 for an application that will share influenza patient data at clinical sites for portable interactive devices (RAPID) in realtime.
Correspondingly, the U.S. Department of Defense Transportation Command also showed interest in blockchain centered on an innovative use of distributed ledger capabilities. Its interest included extensibility, monitoring, and scalability across extended domains.
It’s no surprise to anyone abreast of global occurrences that some governments are more transparent than others. However, , mostly through an increase in both efficiency and data transparency. If a government chooses to use blockchain for contract management, identity management, and its many other uses, it creates a publicly available record of those actions. What does this mean? We could soon be seeing the beginning of a new, radical transparency in government.