Blockchain UDIs – Keystone for Digital Government

The bulk of huge Government IT and process costs arise from very small data errors.

As a highly siloed organization Government is like most large organizations, each department operates their own closed wall system where the same data about citizens is repeated thousands of times, and this duplication breeds these errors.

For example I may be Neil A. McEvoy on one system, N. McEvoy on another while Neil McAvoy on another. Each one also might have a different postal address for me, and so all kinds of costs and process failures originate from these errors and what it takes to compensate for and correct them.

I am also this Neil McEvoy, not this one, highlighting that the core solution required is a unique identifier, a technical code entirely unique just to me. For example NHS numbers fulfill this purpose, matching you to your health records.

UDIs

As this NextGov article explains a ‘Uniform Digital Identifier’ (UDI) is a keystone feature of E-Estonia’s digital services.

This is also called a URN – A Uniform Resource Name, and countries like India are pioneering their adoption, operating such a scheme through the UIDAI – The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Even cows are getting them, where as that article explains, it enables more efficient government process, better tracking of the cows and their vaccinations.

The Cloud as a ‘Dataweb’

There are open standards for UDIs, such as the OASIS XDI protocol, where they coined the term Cloud Names and Cloud Numbers. This implements the term i-names and i-numbers, the naming system that XDI enables.

In short XDI enables unique and permanent identifiers (eg. =neil.mcevoy) for entities including but not limited to people, in the same way that web site URLs and email addresses do for web sites and communications. The key feature is they are persistent while domains can change, and from this will enable a universal data sharing network, a “Dataweb“, in the same way universal web content and email messaging are achieved.

Blockchain Cloud Identity

A super-hot innovation space is the intersection between these protocols and the Blockchain, which caters for additional functionality pertaining to the integrity of associated transactions, like ‘smart contracts’.

For example Blockstack offers this proposed definition of Blockchain Identity:

A blockchain identity (or blockchain ID) is a generic term used to refer to any identity on the blockchain. Users can have one blockchain identity or many and can register them just like one would register domain names or accounts on Facebook or Twitter.

Leveraging the blockchain for identifier functions is a very powerful dynamic, and is already being pioneered by ventures like Shocard.

Given the current Internet identity system, DNS, has been in use since the 1980’s, these focus areas are smart and offer considerable benefits for all users. For example Namecoin describes the modernizing role the blockchain could play, even accelerating performance as well as offering heightened levels of security.

Blockchain as a Service – A Framework for Digital Government Identity

BraveNewCoin writes about the ‘Blockchain Cloud‘, exploring further integration between the blockchain and the computing infrastructure of the Internet, such as how businesses might access and use Blockchain software. For example in this ZDNet article they describe how Microsoft is building out Blockchain services on Azure.

In their excellent laymans explanation A Framework for Identity, Dan Elitzer of the IDEO coLAB summarizes their recent work with Boston universities like MIT and Harvard, focused on exploring the key dynamics of the emergent blockchain, especially it’s generalized role as a new Identity infrastructure.

They cover how the blockchain can cater for aspects like personal data storage, and add value to the core Identity functions like authentication, programs and systems that are now well underway in lots of governments, so it wil be an easy overlay to also adopt blockchain methods and technologies, especially with this SaaS availability, such as the UK G-Cloud atracting its first supplier.

The fusion of the Blockchain and Digital Identity, will play a keystone role in enabling advanced Digital Government features like a unique Blockchain Identity, as is described in this video, where they propose they’re implementing the first Blockchain ID.

It’s further explored in this CCN article where they highlight its relationship to E-Estonia digital citizenship, describing it as a Blockchain passport function.

The potential for this technology is vast, entirely transforming how Government IT is implemented, eliminating $ trillions in unnecessary IT and process expense and bringing great benefit to citizens across the globe.

Inside Bitcoins writes how Blockchain Identity Could Solve the Global Identification Crisis, describing how

“the globe has roughly over 232 million undocumented migrants and continues to rise annually. Because many of these refugees have no identification, quite a lot of them are regularly victimized — especially women and children.”

Update:

A major development towards these goals has been the launch of the ID2020 initiative:

ID2020, which supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 to enable an officially recognized identity for all, is focused on an open, human-centric approach to identity, one that draws on recent advances in biometrics and innovative technologies.

Microsoft and Accenture have proposed a solution that will help key groups like refugees, where validating identity is a critical but very difficult process under the circumstances.

Microsoft’s main contribution to the project is supplying computing infrastructure through its Azure cloud service. The company also works closely with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, an open-source software group that develops blockchain standards.

This Fortune article explains more and provides an interview with Blockchain gurus Don and Alex Tapscott.

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