While blockchain technology might be disruptive to certain elements of the private sector, governments are also looking at it to develop modern infrastructures.
Governments are developing blockchain platforms to integrate with various offices and agencies for a variety of reasons. These platforms offer a transparent means of operation that can deliver privacy and security, as well as feature robust, immutable decentralized databases.
Governing bodies have choices for how to deploy blockchain technology, be they projects that are incubated internally or provided to the government as a service. For instance, today, October 17, 2017, tech giant Microsoft announced a suite of services powered by its Azure Government blockchain platform designed to cater to the needs of government entities. The announcement was made at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum held in Washington D.C., where a number of new features were revealed, including a facet of its platform called Azure Government Secret, designed to "deliver multi-tenant cloud infrastructure and cloud capabilities to U.S. Federal Civilian, Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and U.S. Government partners working within Secret enclaves."
Microsoft isn't the only company to offer blockchain platform services to government agencies. Factom is another blockchain-based organization focused on transparent systems and data provenance. Factom has received Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants, $199,000 of which was awarded in June of 2016. The company has since been working with the DHS to secure the identities of devices on an IoT network. Factom had also been involved in a project with the Honduran government to settle land titles by way of a blockchain system, but that project stalled before going beyond proof-of-concept stages.
To better understand the underlying factors of blockchain adoption in the UK government, ETHNews reached out to founder and CEO of Invotra, Fintan Galvin. Invotra provides blockchain-backed digital workspaces and also supports digital infrastructure for the UK government.
"There is a very large movement in the UK government to move towards blockchain and distributed ledger technology," said Galvin. "It is being looked at everywhere from land registry to possibilities in voting systems." He says many alpha projects are currently underway and people are testing ideas to get used to the concepts relating to blockchain technology. People are "trying to make those decisions around public versus consortium-based blockchains, or private blockchains."
Galvin sees broad adoption by the UK government in five to seven years. "I think what you will start to see are low-risk areas where it has a very natural fit, and they're potentially publishing data already," he said, adding, "We did a lot of work on publishing out a lot of government data." According to Galvin the Home Office (the UK’s equivalent of the DHS) is also exploring blockchain technology.
Shifting to look at the big picture, Galvin revealed that he attended a pan-government meeting where the assembled had mixed reactions to blockchain technology. "When we were discussing possible use cases for this they said this is going to scare a lot of people in different departments." Galvin maintains that "getting that across middle-management is going to take some time."
Still, Galvin asserts that governments are hungry for blockchain technology. "There is definitely an appetite for it. There is a desire for it in government at the moment, and a lot of architects around government talking about it and working on projects, and seeing how it can be fitted in."