Distributed ledger technology identity

27 November 2017

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) presents an opportunity to transform the way Governments manage citizens identities and enables citizens to take more control of their own data. Along with other emerging technologies (such as biometrics, Internet of Things), this is an exciting opportunity to transform both the way Government operates and also how citizens interact and receive public services.

By using DLT to manage citizen identity, we could, for example:

  • Enable seamless journeys through airports – by using a Government verified ‘digital passport’, accessible on a smart device, biometrics and facial recognition could verify passenger identity from their arrival at the airport, through to them boarding the plane. It could help border force staff to review passenger travel in advance and run risk checks in real time. DLT, combined with AI and machine learning, can process and verify traveller identity at a speed, unmatched by traditional technologies.

  • Transform the tax management of gig economy participants, by enabling real time earnings updates using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces – a means of data sharing via software systems) into a government DLT– this would enable real time tax management for both tax departments and citizens. This is a world away from the current government department annual process cycles, and storage of information. The DLT would allow a ledger, which could record earnings, tax deductions, and all government interactions.

Distributed Ledger technologies are evolving very quickly. Whilst the technologies scale at pace, the public sector is well positioned to take advantage of them through:

Cross-Government collaboration: Government departments readily share data about individuals and use cross-department sharing processes. These processes have evolved from traditional, paper-based  processing and now is the time to change these ways of working further by using new technologies.  Creating a consortium, across Government departments, Policing, the NHS (and other government bodies) would help to increase communication and the exploration of DLT solutions – bringing benefits to the public sector much quicker and more effectively.

Standards and regulation: Assurance and regulatory frameworks will be key to ensuring that DLT solutions become standardised and Government and publics service agencies are now in a key position to progress this, with industry and blockchain organisations.

Defining DLT strategies: Exploring application of DLT alongside other future strategies and technologies will help define the value that DLT can provide. Being joined up, across departments, to explore this will be particularly beneficial. We should also encourage a continued exploration of available technologies, current processes and people changes, and aim to fail fast where value isn’t realised and to scale solutions where possible.

Exploring DLT alongside other emerging technologies is a must to making government fit for the digital age. By leveraging the best thinking and experience across industry and the public sector will be an accelerator to achieving this.

Tory Thorpe, Technology Consulting, Accenture

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