City of Dublin to Introduce System Using Blockchain Technology
The City of Dublin is planning to introduce a new system that will use blockchain technology in place of its traditional information database system, giving residents new capabilities and ways to achieve privacy unlike ever before.
The use of blockchains is most commonly understood in the use of cryptocurrency and specifically in Bitcoin, where a permanent, digital recording of transactions are simultaneously created, recorded, verified, and updated by thousands of individuals.
The City of Dublin’s digital identity program — created by Software Verde, a Columbus-based web and mobile application solution development company — will have a similar process, however, instead of financial transactions, anonymous resident data written by the city can be read from and verified by other entities. And to further the security of the private blockchain, the records are published to a public blockchain that Dublin does not have control of.
The City of Dublin’s digital identity program is tokenless, meaning the transfer of value, as with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is not a function of the blockchain. Contrarily, the City of Dublin’s program would simply record data, allowing for signing in to a public meeting, filling out a form, giving feedback to the city, or participating in an election, all with an anonymous public key rather than a name, address and/or phone number.
“The processes a city uses to gauge what its residents want could stand some improvement,” says Doug McCollough, Chief Information Officer for the City of Dublin. “These mechanisms aren’t always an accurate representation of the majority opinion. Having a secure, anonymous, and accountable polling function will allow us to scope questions down to a neighborhood level on topics of feedback we may be interested in, such as a policy or decision or design we may be considering.”
Residents will be able to share and authorize the use of their data without having to trust their data will be used when and how they want to. This gives the ability to share personal information widely without it being misused, exposed, or lost due to human error.
McCollough says the city has goals for sustainability, public safety, volunteerism, and citizenship, which translate to behaviors that improve life among residents in the city. Certain actions can be rewarded, such as volunteering to help a neighbor or assisting with a city-sanctioned event, with points or status that may be redeemed for t-shirts or merchandise, or traded.
Local companies could also participate with their own coupons, discounts or privileges “in support of these community values,” says McCollough. He also notes intangible values, such as engaging with and interacting with the city more frequently and having your opinions heard.
The digital identity has yet to be released to the public, but will be minted before a beta testing period that includes the release of the public polling features. Once testing begins, few hundred residents will be able to voluntarily participate through an app and begin performing actions like participating in mock public meetings, answering test polling questions, and redeeming rewards, or Dublin Points, for small items.
Testing will end in the use of the identity in a live City Council meeting, and lessons learned from the program will be shared with other city governments, especially in Ohio.
McCollough says most government information systems are ill-prepared for the data privacy demands expected in the near future. He says the city does not want to make up for lost time.
“Most governments are still using servers and data stores the same way they have for the last 50 years,” says McCollough. “We believe many local governments will be the last to catch up to the new reality.”
Software Verde CEO Joshua Green says the city is unique amongst its municipal peers, though other governments may follow suit.
“Any sufficiently large and complex machine is going to be slow to change, and that’s okay,” says Green. “Dublin prides itself on being a testbed for emergent technology and has a culture based on innovation. So while I do think it’ll be some time before blockchains are ubiquitous among governments, I also think we’ll start to see more early-adopters appear in the coming years.”
A successful program for the city means residents no longer have to travel and fill out a paper form in order to access a city service. Addresses infrequently change, says McCollough, and yet residents record it on the same form after form, year after year, just to sit in a file cabinet.
“The power to store, secure, monitor, retain, and destroy that information will be placed in your hands,” says McCollough. “This is the beginning of a long journey to the local government of the future.”
Our technology series is presented by our partners in the City of Dublin.
Dublin is a city of more than 47,000 residents located just northwest of Columbus, Ohio. The City of Dublin Economic Development team has a vision to make Dublin a Midwest IT Magnet through business leadership and sustainable workforce development. This commitment goes beyond short-term skills training to include long-term strategic and cultural support for the entire Dublin business community. Dublin is one of America’s Top 20 Creative Class Cities and is home to more than 20 corporate headquarters, an entrepreneurial center, 3,000+ businesses, world-class events and the urban, walkable Bridge Street District.