An emerging technology called blockchain promises to support open government initiatives. With blockchain support, the US government better ensure data transparency and privacy.
IBM conducted a recent survey of regulators in 16 countries. They discovered more than 14% of those are exploring blockchain pilots and 90% plan to in 2018.
Here's more on blockchain support and how governments can embrace it.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a digital ledger that records and safeguards transactions. Companies and government organizations record transactions in some type of ledger. They protect the information to ensure accuracy and security. Organizations maintain these records independent from one another.
Blockchain differs here in that it's a distributed ledger, like a built-in, shared trust. The trust born from a consensus protocol that shares information across organizations. The protocol batches the transactions and stores them in blocks.
The consensus protocol verifies each block. Once it verifies the block, it posts it to each member's ledger. Each block has a hash key. If something compromises the data, the hash key invalidates, exposing the problem.
When the new block posts, the protocol links it to and from the preceding block using the hash keys. This forms a traceable and secure "chain," or database.
Governments and Blockchain
The United States government guards Social Security numbers, voter information, and tax information. The US government can address trust and transparency with a blockchain solution.
Citizens expect efficiency when it comes to applications and other forms. Blockchain would allow government agencies to share data. Data formats would be the same across agencies. People could better understand and complete forms.
The U.S. has recently approved a defense spending bill. The bill allocated funds for modernizing government technology. It specifies the exploration of blockchain technology.
Other governments are embracing blockchain support as well. Sweden uses blockchain to test a land registry. Property buyers, sellers, and banks can view and approve transactions in real time.
Dubai is set to convert all government systems to blockchain by 2020. Estonia uses blockchain for cyber-security and services for its citizens, including e-voting.
Expanding Government Blockchain Support
Data immerses federal, state, and local governments. Each entity must use a database to manage that data and related transactions. Blockchain support means making that data more accessible and transparent across agencies.
Consider the massive amount of transactions conducted daily across the country. There are millions of transfers, sales, fees, disbursements, fines, certifications, and so on. Anywhere government can digitize transactions, there is an opportunity to use blockchain technology.
Identity management is a formidable challenge. A digital identity would establish every physical asset as well as each owner. This would allow for integration across platforms. Currently, one-fifth of the global population lives without an official identity.
Voting is the center of discussion for those advocating blockchain in government. Citizens could cast votes from a remote location. This would use secure digital identity to cast an anonymous vote.
This would slash costs related to printed ballots and electronic voting machines. It would also tighten the security of the votes. Finally, it could encourage more folks to vote if they could do so remotely.
Land registration is a source of investment and economic growth for any nation. Using blockchain for titling would protect home buyers. It would create reliable, secure property records.
Registry processes are still paper-based. In 2014-2015, landowners spent $800 million on title insurance. They did so to cover risks associated with mishandled real estate titles.
Blockchain for a Secure Future
Blockchain technology has the potential to support transparency, data protection, and inter-agency operability. Governments are beginning to explore the possibilities.
The US government should embrace the technology and become a leader in the charge.
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