Blockchain technology, with its ability to streamline, simplify and engender trust, is particularly well suited to government. From supply chains to voting, here are some of the ways blockchain is being used to enhance the citizen experience across the globe.
The United States
The US is adopting blockchain for digital transformation and innovation in a number of departments. The US Navy is developing a supply chain management tool on blockchain for its logistics.1 The goal of the pilot is to improve the link between the military’s supply chain and the Navy’s fleet readiness centres, automatically sensing demand and ensuring that personnel have the equipment they need, when they need it. In another example, DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is investigating the use of blockchain for secure military communications.2
In health-related areas, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using blockchain to identify safety signals in agency and external safety report databases. This means that during public health emergencies, real-time, patient-level health data can be shared between the agency and hospitals – while keeping the sensitive information fully protected. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has been investigating the use of blockchain to track public health outbreaks or other medical trends, such as prescription use.3 The CDC gathers health data from a number of surveys for use in research and a blockchain solution would allow greater transparency over how such data is accessed and utilised.
The United Kingdom
The UK government has been exploring blockchain use cases for many years, seeing its potential in delivering a number of initiatives around safety, trust, transparency, cost and citizen experience.4 The Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, has given millions of pounds in research and development grants to blockchain start-ups in support of initiatives that tackle digital challenges, such as improving the transparency and accountability of digital advertising, decentralised finance and supply chain unreliability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.5
Going further, the UK government aims to be at the forefront of blockchain-related technological innovation for some time to come, announcing a raft of measures aimed at making Britain a tech and investment hub for crypto assets. This includes altering regulations so that stablecoins (cryptocurrency tied to another commodity or currency) can become legal tender and the creation of a financial market infrastructure sandbox.6
In Canada, a strong focus can be seen in utilising blockchain for identity and credentials management. The Canadian Government is working with external companies to provide technology platforms for its digital identity efforts.7 The use of credential wallets and blockchain-identity management will help the government build out its National Digital Trust Service proof of concept, with the aim of helping citizens and businesses to issue, use and verify digital credentials.8
In fact, the Government has already piloted blockchain technology for its own digital credential management system. In 2021, floating ‘project’ employees were issued with a digital credential that gives them a permanent, self-owned and secure record of their skills and experiences.9 The credential is recognised and accepted on the Government’s jobs marketplace.
And in yet another identity-related pilot, Canada is testing the Known Traveller Digital Identity System in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Netherlands. The program uses biometrics, cryptography and blockchain to let travellers control and share information with authorities ahead of travelling – paving the way for stronger airport security and a better flow of travellers across borders.10
More mature than many other territories when it comes to blockchain technology, Singapore has already trialled a number of blockchain concepts, such as for inter-bank and cross-currency payments with Europe and Canada. Project Urbin, supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), assessed the use of blockchain in clearing and settlement of payments and securities, as well as a tokensed Singaporean dollar (aka a Central Bank Digital Currency, CBDC).11 The MAS has also launched a S$12 million Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme (SBIP) in the continued effort to build the country’s blockchain ecosystem.
In health, the Singaporean Government worked with a blockchain startup to launch a Digital Health Passport. The digital wallet, accessible via a person’s mobile, stores issued medical certificates such as of COVID-19 testing and vaccination-status, which are independently verifiable.12 The Government also published a digital global standard for pre-departure test results (and vaccination certificates) for COVID-19, to enable travellers to share and provide proof of their health status.13
The above use cases showcase a range of ways blockchain could be beneficial to the public sector. The use of blockchain to reduce the risk to supply chains could prove extremely beneficial in the wake of recent cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure.14 Food fraud, which costs Australia billions each year, could also be addressed with a blockchain-based supply chain.15 Centralised or digital health records could be made easily accessible, safe and private via a blockchain solution.
And indeed, blockchain pilot programs are being implemented around the country in a variety of ways. Blockchain has been used to issue digital certificates for critical minerals as they travel through supply chains.16 In the state of South Australia, an election to appoint a government advisory council was conducted using blockchain technology, a pilot that will form critical insight into how blockchain might one day be used to broaden blockchain voting mechanisms and enhance citizen input.17 The Reserve Bank of Australia is investigating the use of a CBDC as a new form of money to complement existing forms and both sides of government acknowledge cryptocurrency as an area of increasing interest.18,19
Governing on the blockchain
When it comes to government and blockchain, the opportunities seem endless. As we write, there are pilots being trialled by governments for identity, electricity storage and community sharing, tourist visas and tracking, city-based cryptocurrencies, public transport and safety, state lotteries, refugee identity solutions, government service connection and inter-bank transaction reconciliation. All of these aim to improve the lives of citizens.
Governments need to take the potential of blockchain seriously and avoid falling into the trap of thinking of it as an isolated hobby. Support will be required from the top to facilitate the level of collaboration needed within the government ecosystem to make blockchain solutions truly bear fruit. Blockchains are complicated – and take time to develop – but a successful proof of concept can lead to a satellite project which in turn, can become a core product or service – allowing for value creation, the building of trust, greater transparency and ultimately, better citizen outcomes.
Source by www.pwc.com.au