Blockchain for Government

Blockchain is tackling the challenge of data sharing in government

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Governments have traditionally taken advantage of business partners — including suppliers, local social services agencies and community-based organizations — for their expertise, and to extend the reach of government services. In practice, each agency has multiple ecosystems (similar to business networks) to deliver services and many of these networks are very complex.

Identifying the challenge to government ecosystems

Social service agencies have a network of government and business partners, or ecosystems, which administer assistance to the most vulnerable in a nation’s population. Case workers are most effective and able to provide a complete continuum of care when they have a 360 degree view of the individuals and families being served. There are a multitude of government service providers that each person works with depending on their needs — medical services, education, community services, courts and law enforcement, just to name a few. However, none of the providers have visibility to the range of services and care that the individual is receiving.

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Traditionally, those working within these service networks have not shared data due to agency silos, where there is a tendency or culture to not share information and expertise. They also tend to compete or even have conflicting interests. Other road-blocks include data sensitivities, costs, technology encumbrances and regulatory restrictions. Despite these challenges, government officials recognize that they must collaborate with each other to serve their people effectively, especially in times of crisis.

One core challenge of sharing data is ensuring compliance with the myriad of privacy laws as well as individual consent. A distributed ledger technology like blockchain addresses these compliance and consent challenges.

Blockchain as a solution to sharing data

Blockchain provides a point-to-point consent solution to establish trust between a consenting party and a receiving party. Blockchain also enables smart contracts to adhere to regulatory statutes, governing when and how consent should be applied.

Government leaders are beginning to recognize blockchain’s potential to address the challenges of sharing data. Governments everywhere can start the journey by taking a few pragmatic steps to explore the application of blockchain:

  1. Understand the fundamentals of distributed ledger technology by accessing, free to use, online education.
  2. Start a small blockchain pilot project to acquire hands on experience of the technology’s transformation value — beginning with one or two service providers and a limited set of data.
  3. Build a minimum viable product in a production environment.
  4. Scale the solution as fast as feasible for your ecosystem.

We are in the early days for blockchain and most governments are just beginning to understand and explore the technology. But government visionaries and leaders are recognizing the potential of this transformative technology and beginning that journey.

Where to learn more about blockchain

When you encounter a data sharing challenge with consent and authorization requirements, be sure to reach out to a blockchain expert and explore how distributed ledger technology can resolve those challenges and accelerate time to value.

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Transformation Executive - IBM Global Government Industry

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