August 14, 2017
Blockchain has the potential to be as pervasive and as impactful as the internet. With a technology projected to be as meaningful as this, the government needs to implement the applications of the technology. Here are seven use cases for government.
Titles and Property
The current home entitlement process requires a home buyer to pay thousands of dollars to determine if there are any liens on the property. Due to the lack of trust in paper records, title insurance agencies, which has been called a scam, continue to have a reason for existing. Leveraging the distributed ledger, there would be no need to engage in this fact finding activity as all liens could easily be determined so long as the historical title records were converted to structured data. Sweden is currently experimenting with leveraging the blockchain for land registries.
The US Government has global supply chains reaching every corner of the globe to deliver the $445 billion in goods and services it purchases annually. It delivers equipment and supplies to US troops, medicine to foreign nations for aid, relief supplies to disaster areas. This supply chain is susceptible to fraud, security risk, malicious software/hardware, and the effects of climate change. All transactions on the blockchain are timestamped and traceable. This enables the government to track the origin of goods and increase the quality in production and distribution as each individual component in the equipment can be traced as well.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has been unable to participate in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) financial audits for over 20 years because they cannot reconcile transactions or prepare consolidated financial statements. From appropriations to the soldier’s wallet, every transaction would be transparent and accounted for leveraging blockchain.
Currently identity management is costly for the government and decentralized with disparate organizations tracking identity. The Department of State issues passports while the Department of Motor Vehicles issues drivers licenses. Keeping identity management on a blockchain could allow for one centralized identity store. In addition to reducing duplicative efforts, keeping identity on a distributed ledger could expedite filing taxes, applying for loans, and reduce identity fraud.
Between Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and other social safety net programs, almost 60 percent of the US Government budget is dedicated to entitlement disbursements. It is estimated that in 2015, the the Medicare Fee-for-Service program disbursed $358 billion and of that 12 percent was an improper payment. Blockchain could be used for ensuring the transactional aspects of entitlement disbursements are being allocated to the appropriate person and the recipient is using the money for the purposes intended. The UK is currently piloting a blockchain welfare payments platform.
Storage of Personal Information
Many government programs have a multitude of personally identifiable information (PII) and are a high risk for bad actors looking to steal information. These records can be used to steal identities and other nefarious activities. Putting medical information onto blockchain would improve security and patient’s ability to own their information. Since blockchain solutions are distributed with multiple instances and leverage public-key cryptography, it is very hard to hack these solutions.
The government has been experimenting with using sensors for everything from monitoring traffic on highways to ensuring that equipment does not need maintenance. As the internet of things becomes more pervasive, government will need a way to securely transfer the peer-to-peer data from one device to another. Blockchain can also be a solution for this by becoming a “ledger for everything” enabling the secure and auditable transfer of this data between devices.
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