Blockchain is a digital, decentralised (distributed) ledger that keeps a record of all transactions that take place across a peer-to-peer network. It is an interlinked and continuously expanding list of records stored securely across a number of interconnected systems. This makes blockchain technology resilient since the network has no single point of vulnerability.
The key innovation in blockchain technology is that it allows its participant to transfer assets across the Internet without the need for a centralised third party.
In reality, this difference plays out based on how ‘nodes’ are incentivised to remain a part of the network. The key idea here is that in a public blockchain, the consensus mechanism is based around rewarding each individual participant to remain a part of the network. In a private blockchain, the need for creating this incentive does not exist.
It is important to note that the technology is still nascent. As a result, its different applications are evolving continuously and iteratively.
Healthcare- The digitisation of health records has brought about significant change in the public health sector, but it has been criticised for being complex on account of centralisation and associated ethical issues. Blockchain technology can disrupt public health by creating a secure and flexible ecosystem for exchanging electronic health records (EHRs). This technology could also make the space more transparent by creating provenances for critical drugs, blood, organs, etc. In addition, by putting all medical licenses on a blockchain, fraudulent doctors can be prevented from practising.
Education- Student records, faculty records, educational certificates, etc., are key assets in the education domain. Such records need to be shared with multiple stakeholders and it is imperative to ensure that they are trustworthy. The provenance of these records also needs to be determined accurately. Student records, faculty records and educational certificates can be maintained with the application of blockchain technology. Blockchain can also simplify certificate attestation and verification. It could even transform the manner in which the policy for educational inclusion is framed by bringing in base uniformity in the tracking of national metrics.
3. Public safety and justice- Blockchain could make the delivery of public safety more efficient by resolving the problem of interagency coordination by providing a unified source of truth that each agency independently interfaces with based on predefined conditions. Establishing a chain of custody for crucial evidence is often an important prerequisite for the evidence to be admissible; blockchain technology could help establish the provenance of the chain of custody for such evidence.
4. Agriculture- Blockchain technology can be used to increase transparency, reduce complexity and cost in food-based value chains by enabling trustworthy provenance and traceability from farmer to consumer. Other possible applications include the use of blockchain technology to record and manage agricultural land records as well as agriculture insurance.
5. Civil registration – The civil registration process can be simplified through the application of blockchain technology to create distributed citizen registration platforms and even register vital events such as births and deaths on a blockchain. This can help make citizen records tamper-proof, resilient, secure and private, thus providing wide-ranging benefits for a variety of stakeholders.
- Defence Information regarding defence infrastructure and computer systems is critical to national security. Forthis reason, it is distributed across different locations to prevent unauthorised access and modification.Blockchain technology can be leveraged to provide consensus-based access for modifying data anddistributing access over multiple system resources such as networks, data centres and hardware equipment.
- Governance- Government departments have functional interdependence but operate in silos, which impacts the availability of services and deteriorates citizen experience. Blockchain technology can be used to break the silos, check government corruption (if any), increase efficiency and transparency. Linking file and data movement between departments through a blockchain would increase visibility into the process and ensure that the data/file moves forward in real time.
- Energy- Blockchain technology can be deployed to create a marketplace for electric power supply. Microgeneration of electricity through home power generation using solar energy supplements traditional power supply and promotes the use of renewable energy sources. Using smart meters, a record of produced and consumed electricity for each user in the grid can be maintained on a blockchain with credits/currency allocated to the user for surplus power supply and credits redeemed for power consumption.
The blockchain technology is still in the embryonic stage and needs to get nurtured to give the best impetus to the ecosystem.
(Inputs from KPMG report )
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