As we had already mentioned in this blog’s article “Blockchain in Health Care, Logistics and Public Administration“, Public Administrations are looking at blockchain with great interest, as a tool that is sure to be prominent on the road to digitization.
Speed, effectiveness, transparency
This process, in addition to being time-consuming, requires the use of specialized and technologically competent personnel to avoid the emergence of critical issues related to the misuse of digital tools.
Leveraging distributed records in traditional settings can return enormous benefits in terms of speed, effectiveness, transparency and complexity of performance and services offered.
In a landscape of technological development and growth, the first to benefit from the modernization of obsolete structures related to public administration are the end users of public goods and services, namely citizens.
Today, the process of a bureaucratic file, from initiation to closure, takes an extremely long time and involves a large number of officials who take turns according to the required task.
The Italian Blockchain Service Infrastructure (IBSI)
In the pandemic period, when offices were inevitably closed, the need to make government apparatuses more streamlined and allow access to information directly from home became evident.
To keep up with the times, PA must be able to innovate by moving without delay toward new technologies in a conscious but, at the same time, dynamic way.
With the adoption of blockchain, we enter a new structural paradigm that constitutes a break with the traditional system.
For public administrations, the possibility of ensuring transparency and traceability, through the use of distributed ledgers, is a huge advantage that allows them to win the trust of citizens. The IBSI (Italian Blockchain Service Infrastructure) is an initiative created at the proposal of the Digital Italy Agency and other public administration entities, with the ultimate goal of creating a network capable of enhancing the services made available by PAs.
The public utility platform finally places the citizen at the center by ensuring more agile accessibility to services and communications aimed at him or her.
The citizen master of his own data
The essential features of the blockchain (immutability, traceability and transparency) become solid foundations for building trust among all stakeholders. By increasing information sharing to improve business models, citizens once again become masters of their own data and, like other blockchain nodes, can access and make personal information available in an active rather than passive manner.
The most consistent benefits are found in documentation management. The numerous certificates, both paper and digital, can be entered into the platform, thus avoiding overloading the administration’s servers and allowing each user to access the information he or she needs in an agile and fast way, through digital identity.
The use of blockchain, in fact, guarantees citizens a secure and shared ID, which could facilitate bureaucratic processes and reduce tax evasion and crime.
The digital identity, which contains within it data and information that define the individual, transforms the taxpayer into an active and dynamic user: through passwords and codes, the citizen has access to all the necessary information and can sign, in full and secure autonomy, documents through digital signature.
Today among the most common tools related to digital identity is SPID, or the Public Digital Identity System through which, once a user name and password are obtained, it is possible to access all public administration services from any device (smartphone, tablet or PC). SPID can be activated directly by the citizen already upon reaching the age of majority as long as he or she is in possession of an identity document.
Digital identity and NFTs can ensure the uniqueness of documents and physical and digital assets: any document can be transformed into a token linked to the ID of the natural person, ensuring that the citizen has full control of the documentation related to him or her. With this in mind, one can envision an economy based on the creation of tokens by the PA that are intended to reward deserving citizens by giving rise to a virtuous process that is based on the exchange of NFTs.
Some obstacles, many advantages
The main obstacles, which may stand in the way of this new path of digitization, lie mainly in a jurisprudence that is still embryonic compared to the rapid technological advances, which have allowed the exponential growth of related proceedings. In fact, a legal deficiency and late updating of jurisprudence make it difficult to protect citizens and companies should disputes of a different nature arise.
In conclusion, the benefits brought by the introduction of blockchain in the digitization process of public administration can be summarized in three major blocks:
- Thanks to the principle of transparency and verifiability of information, the risk of manipulation and fraud can be contained;
- Some processes that are traditionally carried out manually by government personnel could be automated, thus reducing both costs and time spent;
- Automation of activities would reduce human error and limit information loss during data management, providing citizens with greater integrity and quality.