Building citizens’ trust in Government

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There are few guarantees of origin and quality for olive oil customers.  Labelling is frequently limited, perhaps stating only the country of production – no details on the type of olive, its quality, the farm which harvested it, or the mill where it was produced.

Spain is the world’s leading olive oil producer, responsible for 50% of all production.  Olive oils have many different varieties, qualities, tastes and uses, with an accordingly wide price range.  A problem faced by the sector is the absolute lack of control of production and provenance.  Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Olive Oil producers have worked together to offer a brilliant new solution: OliveTrace.

OliveTrace improves the traceability and resulting commercialisation of olive oil, through the use of IBM’s blockchain technology.  It increases consumer confidence by asserting food security with a unique QR code assigned to each bottle.  Consumers can scan the code to see information on the origin, production and processing for their product.

QR Code origin, production and processing

OliveTrace uses Blockchain to assure the provenance of the olive oil.  Blockchain is integrated with automation capabilities through sensors and self-management applications, to record data like the timeframes, temperatures of production, and so on.  The blockchain encrypts the information provided at each stage, be it from the olive itself, to the distribution of the final product.  Each stage verifies the information from the previous – so if a farmer records in the system that the olives are of the hojiblanca variety, the next stage – the miller – must verify that this is correct.  Thus, through the Blockchain, the community itself gives maximum veracity to the data – delivering improved traceability and food security.   Customers can trust the olive oil they buy because Blockchain underpins the community ecosystem.

Furthermore, OliveTrace helps the farmers in four ways:

  1. Improved transparency of information to customers
  2. Ensures production and transaction systems throughout the entire chain
  3. Avoids fraud in any link in the value chain
  4. Improves business reputation by applying a trusted digital ledger

Customers have increased food security, and greater trust in the provenance of the products they are buying.  Indeed, all the participants (from farmers, to millers, producers and retailers) benefit, as it ensures that Spanish olive oil is fairly valued, compared to that of other origins – creating higher value for the product.

Ask yourself

What ecosystems can support you in the delivery of citizen-centric services by Governments?  How does each of the participants contribute to the ecosystem?  How will you build trust with citizens in these services?

This is the second in a series of blog posts on the ways in which Blockchain can help Governments deliver better services for citizens.  The first post can be found here.

Executive I/T Architect, IBM CTO Office

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