How can Cities utilise Blockchain Technology to Improve Efficiency?
Blockchain technology is a type of a distributed or decentralised ledger that is designed to keep track of and record of all digital transactions. It is different from traditional ledgers as it does not have a central administration i.e. banks, in fact, it relies mainly on the networks of ledgers that are replicated. The replicated ledgers are linked and synchronised to one another via the internet and hence it can be visible to everyone that is part of the network. Blockchain has gained momentum, not because of the way we use the internet, but because it offers opportunities to revolutionise the global economy.
Many organisations have incorporated blockchain technology in the public sector especially in Europe. It not only changes the way we look at the economy and the concepts of society linked with it, but it also changes the way we look at organising governmental functions.
Estonia is one of the countries that has used blockchain, implementing it as a part of their e-residency program. The cards are digital and they have the cryptographic key. The key is stored on the blockchain and hence citizens can use it whenever they want to vote or participate in general elections via online voting. The blockchain ensures that the results received can be trusted and are highly reliable.
Countries like Nigeria, Kenya have been using blockchain technology to manage the registration of land in their region. This allows them to create a trustworthy and reliable relationship with the owners of the land. Moreover, it makes sure that people have a track record of everything, limits the risks and chances of corruption and helps out with other problems like poor levels of access to the public ownership records. Sweden are also planning to incorporate blockchain into their real estate transactions, which will ensure that all the parties that are linked to the transactions can keep a track record of them. It will also help them witness the progress of all the transactions thus making the entire system transparent.
In the UK, the Department for Work and Pensions are using blockchain in the area that is linked to welfare payments. The system is designed to ensure that people who are using the welfare system can manage their finances through a secure and reliable system. The use of blockchain in this scenario helps to ensures that problems like fraud do not arise. If the use of blockchain technology is successful then the United Kingdom is looking to incorporate it in other areas like to track and keep a record of the allocation, distribution and spending of funds that one receives from the government, aids, scholarships etc.
If blockchain is incorporated into the system that deals with the public services then it will help to ensure the protection of citizens from any kind of fraudulent activities and errors. However, shifting to an entirely new technology may require setup costs along with systems that can help you shift between two systems especially during the transitional phase. Moreover, before public sector organisations shift their systems they must make sure that they have a back up in case their data is lost at anytime. The possibilities for efficiency gains are definitely there, but cities need the expertise and knowledge to be able to make the most of it.