Getting on the (Block) Chain Gang

We've been watching the use of blockchain growing in the government space as agencies look for ways to more efficiently and securely share their data. A Congressional Resolution was introduced to tout the promise of blockchain saying that, "blockchain has incredible potential that must be nurtured through support for research and development and a thoughtful and innovation-friendly regulatory approach." Following this encouragement from congress, it seems like each day there is a new application of the technology being tried and evaluated.

We've gathered a couple applications that we found interesting to help illustrate what blockchain is and what it can do.

  • Supply Chain - The Navy is looking to use blockchain to track aviation parts throughout their lifecycles, helping them better manage their supply chain. Similarly, the FDA is looking at how blockchain can better track the chain of custody of prescription drugs. In a related application, blockchain is also being considered as a solution for better tracking digital evidence in criminal cases.
  • Managing Public Records - State and local organizations are using blockchain to digitally distribute records, including marriage certificates, property titles, and business registrations.
  • Voting - Blockchain is being tested as a way to make it easier for service members and overseas citizens to vote. Last fall, 144 West Virginia voters living abroad were able to vote through their mobile phones via an app. Identities were confirmed by scanning a valid U.S. ID along with a selfie. Once the identity was confirmed, voters made their selections based on the ballot they would have used at their local precinct. Voters were then given a unique ID or hash that, once the vote was cast, allowed them to write on to the blockchain. Each submission was encrypted to the blockchain ledger, which gave election clerks the ability to conduct post-election audits.
  • Public Health - Blockchain can also speed the delivery of information as it relates to public health crises. The Food and Drug Administration is looking at how to use blockchain to share health care data securely and effectively in real time when epidemics like the swine flu threaten the health of the nation.

To hear more about blockchain applications like this in government and learn more about the technology, there are several helpful events in the coming months worth looking into.

  • Defense One Tech Summit (June 27, 2019; Washington, DC) - At this event, top national security and tech journalists will sit down with leading innovators in government, military, industry, and academia to discuss emerging technologies, their likely impact on tactics and strategy, and the capabilities and possibilities of tomorrow.
  • FCW Emerging Tech Summit (July 17, 2019; Washington, DC) - This summit will show how agencies are using new technology capabilities to improve such tasks as approving security clearances, detecting fraud in disbursements and rethinking training. Topics addressed include which agencies are successfully using emerging tech, how augmented reality is reinventing training techniques, checking vendor compliance with AI and machine learning, and the latest on federal efforts with AI, Robotic Process Automation, IoT, 5G, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Blockchain and more.
  • Cybersecurity Summit (August 7, 2019; Washington, DC) - This event will explore the challenges of bolstering cybersecurity and the technologies, policies, and management strategies that agencies can use to attain their security goals. Sessions will cover a range of topics including identification and access management and trusting the digital global supply chain.
  • Blockchain Expo North America (November 13-14, 2019; Santa Clara, CA) - The conference agenda will present a series of expert keynotes, interactive panel discussions, and solution-based case studies. All will explore the key industries that are set to be disrupted the most by this new technology, including legal sectors, retail, financial services, healthcare, insurance, energy, music, government, real estate, and more.

Let us know what applications of blockchain you're seeing in government in the comments.

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