WHAT IS THE BLOCKCHAIN?

Blockchain is an infrastructure software technology that has emerged over the last several years that enables many new services and convenience that until fairly recently, simply did not exist.  As our smartphone and interconnected world continues to evolve, there are many challenges facing all users of digital technology: sometimes they are insecure, many times involve a third party to validate transactions (where funds are changing hands), costs are still in the system that reflect older ways of doing things, silos or “stove pipes” of data (owing to a lack of collaboration at the digital level) keep many parts of a linked chain, very much separated, which slows many digital transactions down and produces vulnerabilities, and the list goes on.

Blockchain solves a number of these challenges by integrating and converging a list of critical technologies and services.  These include:  

  • Large database technology,
  • Distributed accounting ledgers that use software to track every detail of a transaction,
  • Cryptography to protect digital transactions against hacking,
  • High speed Internet networking and connectivity to virtually any device,
  • Internet of Things (IoT) where almost any device can be network addressable and enabled (machines talking directly to other machines),
  • Mobility of data, digital applications and convenience of computing, and finally,
  • Open systems that rely upon more transparency and collaboration, vice monolithic and proprietary walls-of-separation.

cryptocurrency - blockchain protocolsThink about the last five years of streaming video, network speeds and computing software, hacking, data breeches, etc. and you will begin to see why technologists and software professionals have been looking for a new approach to all manner of use cases in our digital world.  Also recall that governments do not always know the best approach to deliver services nor erect boundaries while remaining altruistic towards the citizens they are authorized to protect (remembering the currency and monetary failures of entire nations as well as for-profit corporations that crossed lines that should not have been crossed, etc.).

In this landscape and milieu of the high demand for protection, convenience and autonomy, blockchain combines the key technologies mentioned above in order to facilitate, for instance, digital money that is more a person-to-person exchange of value, versus a government underwritten currency that can be manipulated by forces well above an individual’s control.  These have been called crytpocurrencies and Bitcoin™ is the most well-known example.  

However, there are dozens and dozens of other examples and rich possibilities—both in the ‘monetary exchanges’ category as well as use cases that could leverage blockchain to the advantage of buyers and sellers.   (Example: credit card companies (and the consumer credit value chain) earn a lot of revenue by acting as a third party validation between a buyer and a seller, and their respective bank accounts.  What if we did not need the third party and could exchange funds by sending them directly from my account to yours, for everything from an ice cream cone to a parcel of land or a new home?)

Government will clearly have a role, at the international level, the federal level, state and providence and even local level, too.  Its seems like almost everything that could be considered a possible use case for blockchain, is now being considered, from voting management, to cross border refugee identity and citizen identification (think about the presidential elections and vote-counting challenges as well as refugee challenges in the past twenty years).  

GBA will convene governments and those who desire to lead, follow, or even simply monitor same, and bring blockchain’s implications out into the open.  As an association of members who care about this emerging solution-set there is a validated need for transparent and honest dialog that balances its amazing promise with the need to use it strictly for good and altruistic reasons.

GOVERNMENT BLOCKCHAIN USE CASES

Category 1: Financial Instruments, Records, and Models

  • Currency
  • Private equities
  • Public equities
  • Derivatives (futures, forwards, swaps, options, and more complex variations)
  • Bonds
  • Voting rights associated with any of the preceding
  • Commodities
  • Spending records
  • Trading records
  • Mortgage/loan records
  • Servicing records
  • Crowdfunding

Category 2: Public Records

  • Land titles
  • Vehicle registries
  • Business license
  • Business incorporation/dissolution records
  • Business ownership records
  • Regulatory records
  • Criminal records
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Voting
  • Health/safety inspections
  • Building permits
  • Gun permits
  • Forensic evidence
  • Court records
  • Voting records
  • Nonprofit records
  • Government/nonprofit accounting/transparency

Category 3: Private & Semipublic Records

  • Private Records
  • Contracts
  • Signatures
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Escrows
  • GPS trails (personal)
  • Semipublic Records
  • Degree
  • Certifications
  • Learning outcomes
  • Grades
  • HR records (salary, performance reviews, accomplishment)
  • Medical records
  • Accounting records
  • Business transaction records
  • Genome data
  • GPS trails (institutional)
  • Delivery records
  • Arbitration

Category 4

  • Physical Asset Keys & Intangibles
  • Physical asset keys
  • Home/apartment keys
  • Vacation home/timeshare keys
  • Hotel room keys
  • Car keys
  • Rental car keys
  • Leased cars keys
  • Locker keys
  • Safety deposit box keys
  • Package delivery (split key between delivery firm and receiver)
  • Betting records
  • Fantasy sports records
  • Intangibles
  • Coupons
  • Vouchers
  • Reservations (restaurants, hotels, queues, etc.)
  • Movie tickets
  • Patents
  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks
  • Software licenses
  • Video game licenses
  • Music/movie/book licenses (DRM)
  • Domain names
  • Online identities
  • Proof of authorship/proof of prior art

Category 5: Others

  • Documentary records (photos, audio, video)
  • Data records (sports scores, temperature, etc.)
  • Sim cards
  • GPS network identity
  • Gun unlock codes
  • Weapons unlock codes
  • Nuclear launch codes
  • Spam control (micropayments for posting)

Blockchain Resources