While estimates vary widely, government agencies in as many as 200 countries are using blockchain technology to handle everything from the recording of deeds to ensuring food safety. The driving force behind the turn toward blockchain is efficiency and security.
But with the technology still in its infancy, most of the work being done is on a trial basis. Adoption is picking up and recent surveys show that – in the United States, at least – interest among technology leaders in government organizations is growing.
Making it a Priority
In a survey taken at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) conference in 2016, none of attendees had blockchain listed as a priority. A year later, the membership organization was calling blockchain “next big transformational technology” in government.
The interest by governments is understandable. In a New York Times article published in June, Zeina El Kaissi, head of emerging technology at Smart Dubai, which is leading the city’s blockchain initiative, explained that blockchain has shown the potential to drive governmental efficiency.
“Today we’re using human beings as data transfer tools,” Ms. El Kaissi said in the Times piece. “That’s just a waste of my human life, to be honest.”
In Dubai, the focus is on limiting the requirement of human-to-human interaction – physically picking up and paying a visit to the local city or county offices – to carry out transactions that are suited for the blockchain like transferring property or registering a deed. And while Dubai is clearly a leader in exploring the practical application of blockchain in government, it is not alone.
A report issued by the Smart Dubai group in 2016 notes these government blockchain projects:
- United States: State of Delaware recording and storing company incorporation on blockchain.
- Singapore: Invoicing on blockchain.
- Estonia: E-Citizen records, e-payment keys and medical records secured on blockchain.
- Sweden: Real-estate transactions on blockchain.
- United Kingdom: Blockchain used to monitor distribution of grants.
- Ghana: Blockchain used for land registry.
And that was in 2016. As blockchain continues to gain traction, its use in government will certainly continue to grow.