Exclusive: Australia reveals plans for Blockchain in public services

By GovInsider

Foresight unit discusses potential in police, food security, and government communications.

The Australian Government is exploring use cases for Blockchain for public safety, government communications, cyber security and logistics, the country’s foresight research unit said today.

“We partnered with the Federal Treasury to undertake a huge project in Australia to identify the opportunities and the threats posed to us by Blockchain technologies,” Dr Alicia Cameron, Senior Researcher at Data61 - CSIRO, said at the GovInsider Strategic Futures Breakfast this morning.

The study is looking into three areas: the potential benefits, new skills needed, and legislative and regulatory implications of Blockchain.

There will be upcoming pilots in a number of key areas where there is potential for further use of the technology. One of the opportunities identified by Data61 is in public safety.

Police body camera videos, for instance, can be stored on a Blockchain to ensure that video evidence has not been tampered with, and verify where and when the video is taken.

Another potential use case is in performance monitoring, “making sure funds from the federal government, for instance, are spent well by local governments”.

Blockchain would allow more dynamic performance monitoring, rather than a static annual report. Blockchain can also be used to improve coordination across government departments, she said.

Communications recorded on a Blockchain are immutable, which can increase trust and reduce conflicts within organisations. However, Blockchain could also be “hugely disruptive” for employment, she warned.

For example, the technology could replace record management and bookkeeping jobs, requiring governments to re-skill these people.

“If Blockchain, for instance, in Australia takes over intellectual property registration, what is going to happen to all the people employed in that agency?,” Cameron suggested.

Other uses of Blockchain include food security, she said, and Australia is already tracking the supply of grains using Blockchain.

“When it comes off the field, it’s registered, it’s marked, the identifiers of the grain are put onto a Blockchain, and it can be tracked to the buyer,” she said.

The Strategic Futures Breakfast brought together senior officials together from defence, education, healthcare, law, infocomms, finance, and urban planning to discuss trends shaping the future of Singapore’s Smart Nation.

The event was run in partnership with Dassault Systemes.