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Blockchain to revolutionise governance

By Upasana Hembram

Andhra Pradesh became the first state in the country to kick start the use of blockchain technology across two departments and intends to expand its application to the entire state government administration. 60% of Aadhar-based transactions come from Andhra Pradesh alone and technology is extensively employed to deliver services, streamline titles of vehicles by the transport department and prevent tampering of land records which have already been digitised and stored online. The state of Andhra Pradesh felt the need to adopt blockchain to be able to protect these Information Technology (IT) assets.

Blockchain: More than a buzzword

By venturing into the domain of blockchain technology and deploying it strategically in pilot projects, government agencies can easily access and use critical public-sector data while protecting this trusted repository. Despite best efforts by agencies to maintain the security of systems, people who use public services are in the right to worry about government databases being hacked with the goal of stealing or manipulating records for criminal activity. Though encryption techniques do not guarantee 100 percent safety, blockchain technology makes it more difficult to violate these safeguards. Each record’s history is completely transparent and any illegitimate tampering from within or outside the system can be identified and averted. Changes within various databases can be easily monitored by government agencies.

Instead of long paper trails requiring multiple exchanges, blockchain technology cuts down on the process of owning and transferring assets by digitising sensitive information about ownership and placing it in blockchain registers. This also reduces the costs of service, savings from which can be handed over to citizens. In general, a shift towards paperless exchanges based on blockchain records could also be used to automate voting procedures and to ensure compliance of lawful practices.

Attention to continuous evolution

Since privacy risks require constant attention, IT departments of government agencies that have adopted blockchain solutions must keep up with an industry that is rapidly evolving. Since there are no universally accepted standards for blockchain technologies, IT decision makers in the government will have a tough time determining the best available solutions and in assessing the most optimum way to integrate them with the already existing IT environment used to carry out operations. Blockchain providers continue to be small startups which makes it difficult for procurement departments to identify partners that offer cutting-edge technology and are sturdy enough to stick around till the completion of the implementation phase of these products. To ensure that encryption methods are robust in safeguarding privacy, government organisations need to accommodate the legal and regulatory connotations of blockchain technology.

Apt for experimentation

Blockchain technology has the potential to facilitate government bodies that are seeking better ways to protect and manage trusted information by offering efficient operations, quick responsive services and improved data security. It is still an emerging technology and will take time to fully mature. However, the time is apt for experimentation. By adopting blockchain in their agenda, the Andhra Pradesh government will exemplify what works in practice and how it can further be explored to achieve the full potential of data-driven governance and will re-innovate this component of government architecture.

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