The Canadian government recently released a statement touching on their use of blockchain. Developed by the National Research Council of Canada, the use of blockchain was first discussed in mid-2017. These talks culminated in the launch of a pilot program in January of 2018.
What is it?
The pilot program is an explorer that functions on the Ethereum blockchain. This allows Canadians to access data regarding government funded grants and expenditures in real-time. Naturally, the platform is based off of the Ethereum protocol. As many know, Ethereum was founded primarily by a team of Canadians – including the venerated Vitalik Buterin.
The pilot program is dubbed ‘IRAP,’ which stands for the Industrial Research Assistance Program. In the recently released public statement, the NRC indicated that this program contracted the services of BitAccess to develop the explorer. Detailing the explorer, they stated it “…functions as a peer-to-peer method of storing and sharing data in a distributed manner. Unlike regular webpages, web applications hosted on IPFS are unalterable and can be accessed far into the future, even if the original web host has gone offline. In other words, the web application used to view NRC IRAP’s blockchain data – also known as a blockchain explorer – is not being hosted in only one location where it could be subject to site failure or other access issues. Instead, the move to IPFS will ensure the application is hosted by a multitude of computers so data is always accessible and immutable.”
Why is blockchain being used?
The NRC has indicated that the pilot program is just the beginning. They have been monitoring the rollout and functionality of the explorer. In time the plan is to utilize blockchain technology throughout various facets of the government. Many departments, and the public at large, can benefit from the implementation of immutable ledgers.
While the Canadian government is making use of this new technology, we are witnessing a mixed reaction from other nations. While there are those that have welcomed the tech with open arms, some show more hesitation.
The list of nations that are looking to embrace the industry include Malta, Switzerland, Venezuela, Estonia, Lithuania, Australia, and more.
Those that have shown hesitation are Korea, China, Russia, United States, and more.
As governments complete programs such as the one taking place in Canada, more will jump on board. These programs will open pathways to new use-cases. Many of which have not even been thought up yet. When governments realize that this technology can save vast sums of money, sentiments will turn positive. The fact that it brings transparency to government workings may be viewed as good or bed, depending on the actions of the government.
Well put by the NRA, it is acknowledged that, “These are early days, but NRC IRAP’s experiments with blockchain are expected to provide constructive insight into the potential for this technology and how it may be used for more open and transparent operations for public programs.”