7th October 2016
Is Blockchain in the MASH for Local Government?
In their latest insight briefing, SOCITM posed the question, Blockchain technology: could it transform digitalenabled councils?
They urge councils and wider public sector authorities to follow developments around blockchain Distributed Ledger technologies with a view to experimenting with their potential use in the development of future service transformation plans.
It is safe to say that blockchain is currently one of the hot technology topics trying to establish itself as a new way of handling trusted transactions. The rise and publicity surrounding BitCoin has driven this current hype and whilst the underlying technology of blockchain is very appropriate for financial-based systems, it is still unclear what viable (and practical) uses there will be across other sectors.
UK Government has issued a number of articles and papers regarding this topic, and they are actively investigating the potential of the technology to support a number of public-facing services. But the challenge is: ‘what is the use case that can exploit the capabilities of blockchain?’.
As an organisation, Sopra Steria sees the potential of this technology to provide an immutable chain of evidencebased systems and we are actively working on a number of potential use cases across a number of sectors.
The opportunities for Local Government need further investigation to consider how blockchain could be used to improve services, reduce costs, or help tackle fraud. As the SOCITM article suggests, these opportunities have yet to be clearly defined and articulated. Whilst G-Cloud 8 now shows services related to blockchain, there are only two of any real substance – one from a leading provider of blockchain Distributed Ledger Technologies, and the second a consultative service on what, and how, to use blockchain. The others simply make reference to blockchain – so there is still a substantial way to go before there are pre-defined services available for Local Government.
Should Local Government be investigating the opportunities for blockchain/Distributed Ledger technology? Absolutely!
There are a number of potential areas where the ability to provide chain of evidence-based capabilities could be used, but the challenge for Local Government is to define the business and application processes needed to use blockchain. One of the areas in which we see major opportunities is the ability to coordinate MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs) by providing a means of identifying master records across different agencies. The ability to establish a clear data level trust relationship is going to be critical to delivering successful MASH services.
Sopra Steria supports SOCITM’s call to identify the appropriate uses and applications of blockchain which will stand the test of time. As an integral part of their design process, councils should now be considering the advantages of
using both blockchain, and other emerging technologies, when shaping future transformation programmes.
By Ben Gilburt, Innovations Consultant, Sopra Steria