The application of blockchain in government and public services can solve the problems that have been haunting the system for a long time.
Most people know blockchain as the foundation for cryptocurrencies. But the technology has a much greater potential that spans across almost any sector that you can think of.
Governmental organizations all over the world were quite skeptical about the technology. But that was because they didn’t know much about this it.
Now, governments from different parts of the globe are looking into the infinite possibilities of blockchain technology.
What makes the system tick?
A democratic government is a system where people are supposed to exercise the authority of the government.
The people who are citizens of a state elect their representatives through an election process and these representatives run the government on behalf of the people.
In theory, the “people” are supposedly the ones with the “power.” But in reality, the government often fails to ensure even basic human rights to the citizens.
Where the system has slipped
The fact of the matter is that the government has a bad name when it comes to public services. This makes blockchain application in government the need of the hour.
People complain all the time about how inefficient government offices are in processing requests and sanctioning funds to the public.
But the roots of the problem go deeper than what we see on the outside. The centralized system undoubtedly has many disadvantages, which we will look at right now.
Lack of transparency
Lack of transparency in governmental affairs is something that goes against the concept of democracy itself. Yes, you have to keep some information confidential, such as that of the military, to ensure national security. But the system that is supposedly run by the “people” forces its citizens to be unaware of what happens around them.
We have to wait a whole year before we know what the government has done with our tax money. And at times, we even have trouble accessing our own personal information.
On a broader note, the lack of transparency leaves little room for accountability. The big guys sitting at the top get to decide between right and wrong while the common man, who elected them, gets no control over the government. This has forced people to lose faith in the system and the situation only seems to be getting worse.
Standing in line for a ridiculous amount of time and running from door to door to get something done is a regular sight in government offices.
This situation is aided by the fact that most government employees consider their jobs as a safe zone. They get all the benefits and a sense of authority as well.
At the same time, many of the sectors have low wages when compared to the expenditure of an average working individual. This urges them to take bribes from the public.
Moreover, almost all governmental programs need the personal information of the public enrolling in it. And while the government is taking steps to digitize the process of records keeping and form filing, this job still remains a painstaking one.
This is especially true with money transfers such as fund sanctions, pension schemes, reimbursements, and similar situations, where the person who needs the fund has to change a few slippers before getting what’s rightfully theirs.
Well, perhaps this part needs the least explanation because this is not a new tale to tell. Centralized power almost always comes with consequences, and corruption has plagued the system from the start. This “disease” has infiltrated into almost every sector you could possibly imagine, and from falsifying data to tax frauds to using authority as leverage, corruption spans across multiple sectors and almost every governmental organization.
However, this doesn’t mean that the government employees are the only ones to blame. The citizens themselves play a major role in fueling corruption.
At the end of the day, everyone seems to be looking out for themselves and for their own benefits. Instead of collectively working for the betterment of a nation, many people commit tax evasions, false insurance claims, stage deaths for collecting social security, bribe government officials for favors, and the list just continues on and on.
Infringement of privacy
How safe do you think we really are? Our private data is, in fact, one of the least private things that we have.
The government knows everything about us and they collect this information through various means.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing as it would be useful in case of a dispute, we don’t really know how they use this information.
The way they do this snooping is quite interesting and alarming at the same time. They hide the fact that they are spying on us in the name of other services. It’s really easy to even track what we do online and deduce a behavioral pattern from it.
Mismanagement of resources
There is a huge mismanagement of resources in terms of money and other resources happening across sectors.
The processes of the government take up a lot of time and labor force, and this results in the spending of money.
Many government officers forge fake bills for reimbursements and take the money for themselves.
Moreover, the cost calculation for various government projects is inaccurate. The funding is either too much or too little. The money is being spent and there is no real way of tracking it at all.
Lack of Digitization
Right about now, you might wonder, “Is this one really relevant?”. Yes, the government has converted almost everything into digital form. Most of the filing and records keeping is done digitally through online portals. However, this is not a fool-proof process.
Even though everything is done online, the public has to provide information over and over again for enrolling in each and every government scheme. If the data is digital, then why can’t they just dig into the database and retrieve it? This is one of the unanswered questions that have been going around for a while now.
Almost all governmental organizations rely on legacy networks for internal networking, and these are quite slow when compared to other networking systems. The organizations are slowly moving towards faster solutions, but at this rate, it would take them several years to transition into the future.
Furthermore, apart from being slow, these systems are prone to security risks. What we need is a system that gets the work done quickly and efficiently using the latest technology.
Failing to ensure rights to citizens
The system has been largely incompetent in ensuring rights to citizens. At times, these are basic human rights that everyone deserves.
Time and again, we see that the elections come and political parties make promises that they don’t keep. Even the ones they do keep takes forever to take effect.
How Blockchain Solves These Problems
The problems at hand are indeed great, but thankfully, there’s a way around.
Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that can solve some of the biggest problems in several industries and sectors, including the government and public sectors.
So, let’s take a look at how we can use blockchain to revive the system.
Enforcing trust through trustless transactions
One of the major advantages of blockchain technology is that you can guarantee trust between the government and the people. Many widely use the term “trustless” when it comes to blockchain and this can get a bit confusing. What do they really mean when they say trustless?
In fact, blockchain is a technology that ensures trust in all interactions and transactions. The word “trustless” doesn’t mean that you eliminate trust. It actually means that it reduces the amount of trust required by everyone in the system. So, by implementing blockchain in government and public services , you are actually establishing trust between the government and the citizens.
And here’s how.
Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms and conditions of an agreement directly written into the code. These programs are a fool-proof way of carrying out tasks and always deliver results. For example, let's say that you a retired person looking to avail of their pension. In the current system, you’d have to file your request at a government office and go through a painstaking list of processes before the money actually reaches your wallet. If we implement a smart contract here, if you meet the criteria to avail the pension, the contract will execute itself and you’ll get everything you are owed instantly. Furthermore, since there is no paperwork and no human mediator, no one can interfere with the whole process.
Transparency with privacy
The information once stored on the blockchain database can never be tampered with, and it will be available whenever needed.
You can store the public information on a public blockchain ledger that everyone can access. For example, criminal records and employment records.
For sensitive information such as medical records, you can store the data on a private distributed blockchain-based ledger and make it available to specified persons only.
This way the government can access the information they need for providing services to the citizens while ensuring rights to their citizens. The citizens get to choose whether to disclose their private data or not.
Security is the number one feature of blockchain technology. Hackers often target governments trying to snoop into the citizens’ privacy and also to access sensitive information. This information can be anything from a person’s personal records to confidential military plans.
Protection against hackers
Blockchain for government and public services add extra layers of security that keep hackers away from the data. When you use a distributed ledger for storing your data, on a protected network, it becomes extremely difficult for hackers to get into the system.
Usually, hackers only have to access one server to get into the system. Blockchain, as the name suggests, is made up of multiple blocks. And each block is connected to all the blocks before and after it. For a hacker to access the system, they would need to change the data on a block as well as the data on every other block, to avoid detection.
Moreover, the records on a blockchain ledger are protected using something called cryptography. Each entity that makes a transaction in the block gets a private key assigned to the transactions they make. When a hacker tries to make any changes to the data on a block, this key becomes invalid and the peer connection is notified instantly. This makes hacking practically impossible.
And unfortunately for the hackers, there is no single point of weakness. The data itself is stored on multiple databases and not on a single server.
Time and again, we hear stories of corrupt government officials tampering with data to hide corruption or to get benefits. Citizens even bribe these officials to change the data.
Luckily, blockchain technology protects your data, not only from hackers but from everyone, making falsifying of data practically impossible. Additionally, since you can use both public and private blockchains for storing data, you can use authentication to choose who gets use the data, while maintaining transparency by making legitimate data available to the public in real-time. What you see is literally what you get.
The elections have always been an issue all over the world. In the era of ballots, security was a major concern. Ballot boxes were guarded with high levels of security to ensure that the votes were not forged.
Now, this process is done with the help of electronic devices. But the problem here is that electronic devices can be easily tampered with. We’ve heard several reports of voters clicking on one candidate’s button and the vote being cast for the other candidate.
Blockchain can eliminate this completely. With blockchain application , we can ensure that each vote cast is authentic. And the immutable storage guarantees that no data is ever lost.
In A Nutshell
Blockchain for government and public services is a revolutionary idea that can change everything for us. It is effective not just in the public sector but also in other sectors such as healthcare, insurance, intellectual property, digital identity, food safety, and the list just goes on.