Blockchain is best known as the power behind digital currency, but the base technology has so many more applications. At the root of blockchain is its ability to record the transactions of assets. This visibility is key to the digital transformation of government services and operations.
The most obvious use of blockchain may be in the movement of goods, providing a record of "ownership" of a specific asset and the path it has taken to get to its present location. The digital tracking removes the challenges of moving paperwork (either hard copy or electronic) between organizational boundaries, enabling a digital token to serve that same purpose.
Just because the ledger is "public" does not mean it is not secure. The U.S. Department of Defense is using blockchain to provide a single source of truth for tracking materials. It has proven to optimize processes and reduce costs, enhancing government readiness.
Blockchain's supply chain use extends beyond physical assets. It is a key tool in building a software bill of materials (SBOM), which shows what components are included in IT systems. This visibility helps organizations better pinpoint and remediate cyber vulnerabilities.
The maintenance of property records has traditionally been a very manual, paper-dependent process. This opens up huge risks for scammers to exploit the system with false documents. It also impacts traditionally disenfranchised citizens, who simply may not have access to the right paperwork to prove ownership of property. Using blockchain levels the playing field for all property owners while providing a huge step up in terms of security.
South Burlington, Vermont is running a pilot project to show how blockchain-recorded property deeds would work. At the end of a property deed, there is a long string of letters and numbers followed by a QR code that can be used to find the property deed's location on the Ethereum blockchain. This public availability makes the process more transparent and is designed for security to protect against scammers.
Rhode Island's Department of Commerce is looking to move its property records into a single blockchain-based system. The vision is to make it easier to register a business--a task that currently requires dealing with many different agencies running their own siloed systems. A pilot project in RI paved the way for this application. The state's certified public accountants worked with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a digital ID card and then use the digital credential to prove their identity to the Department of Business Regulation, which in turn issued them a digital copy of their CPA license.
With confidence and trust in the nation's system of voting at unseen lows, revisiting how our votes are recorded is a step-in rebuilding trust in democracy. Blockchain can also support other election tasks such as voter registration, vote tallying, and result declaration, resulting in higher security and transparency.
Blockchain voting means that each vote is recorded as an encrypted transaction on a decentralized ledger. Doing so means that votes are irreversible as well as more easily traceable and auditable. This also means that remote (absentee) voting can be even further facilitated as it enables secure remote voting from anywhere, benefiting those with disabilities, remote workers, and citizens living abroad.
Some states are already implementing blockchain voting. In 2018, West Virginia gave military personnel stationed overseas access to an app that facilitated blockchain-based voting. In 2020, Utah implemented blockchain voting for its Republican primary.
While these applications of blockchain are exciting in terms of the efficiency and transparency they introduce into government, there are also concerns around scalability and security that need to be addressed. GovEvents and GovWhitepapers have a host of resources exploring the many uses of blockchain.
- OODAcon 2023 - Future Now! (October 25, 2023; Reston, VA) - This conference brings together hackers, thinkers, strategists, disruptors, leaders, technologists, and creators with one foot in the future to discuss the most pressing issues of the day and provide insight into the ways technology is evolving. Topics include "Building Trust Back into Blockchain."
- Defense Logistics & Support (October 25-26, 2023; Alexandria, VA) - This event is a platform to learn, share and connect with peers and counterparts to ensure that the U.S. can build agility and resilience into defense-critical supply chains. Sessions will focus on driving innovation in logistics to ensure optimal efficiency, agility, and operational excellence across the armed services.
- Imagine Nation ELC 2023 (October 29-31, 2023; Hershey, PA) - This event brings together the government technology community to discuss the issues facing government and work together to develop practical solutions and innovative strategies. With a Future Tech track, speakers will look at emerging technology implementations impacting the traditional way government does business.
- Trend Report: The Future of Blockchain in Government - More Than Crypto (white paper) - This publication discusses how blockchain is used, how it evolved on the dark web, its future with digitizing assets, and how it could be used within the government.
- Shared Intelligence for Resilient Supply Systems (white paper) - The current state of global supply chains calls for enhanced data sharing, building the visibility necessary to mitigate future disruptions more efficiently. This insight report explores the ways in which required resilience can be achieved in the global supply chain.
- SBOM Challenges and Opportunities (white paper) - Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) are now a mandated component of developing, implementing, and managing IT systems in the Federal government. Learn why and how creating an SBOM is critical to secure software development, improve supply chain transparency, and manage open-source software components over time.