The Scottish Government has released a five-point recommendation paper regarding a robust introduction of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), better known as blockchain, into public services.

Public sector meets blockchain

The research report titled ‘Distributed Ledger Technology in Public Services’ published on 6 August was conducted by Wallet Services, a blockchain development specialist, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate in 2017.

The report writes that the researchers discovered an “overwhelming international consensus that DLT will have a significant role in underpinning future digital government”.

It makes note of the “popular narrative” of DLT being a decentralizing technology, “disintermediating central institutions like governments and banks”. Despite this appeal, the study believes in the future benefits of the technology in the public sector such as streamlining of data governance, public service delivery mechanisms, economic models and economy ecosystems.

The report insists that “Scotland join the international ecosystem as an active participant”. To do so, it will need to utilize universities and businesses for small-scale projects in the Scottish public sector, with the goal of developing a Scottish vision for DLT and sharing these findings with the international community.

Five “broad” recommendations

The report offers a set of guidelines that together, will allow for this new effort to come to fruition. It covers areas such as, putting together a group of DLT representatives to drive projects under this new vision, improve knowledge and skills around disruptive technologies, engage proactively with other nations’ governments, educate leaders across multiple industries and designate leadership to a group of progressives who will work diligently to deploy DLT in the public sector

It takes note of several international countries that have completed public-sector Proof-of-Concept (PoC) projects and have integrated DLT into their systems. Estonia is the first mention in the report, which perhaps due to its relatively similar population size.

Success stories

Estonia, with just over a million inhabitants, has managed to implement e-governance to great success and according to the report, “e-Estonia” has allowed for a streamlined experience between citizens and the state. Despite its small size, the integration of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies has revamped the country from digital identity and economy to sustaining home-grown tech startups.

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia said, “…we can make ten million payments, perform ten million requests and sign ten million contracts in just ten minutes. Even ten times larger states cannot beat us.”

It also makes note of the Netherlands, which has had eleven blockchain pilots underway since 2016, the give focus to processes and services that were in need of modernization across different governmental organizations.

This report arrives in timely fashion; Scotland finds itself in the fortunate position of being part of the United Kingdom, which is presently going strength to strength in the blockchain race. This is especially with the Bank of England completing a major DLT PoC, prestigious academic institutions offering blockchain-related courses, major cities such as Liverpool utilizing the technology to reduce carbon emissions, and other notable blockchain projects to name but a few.

 

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