Technology for Public Good

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

June 3, 2021

The benefits of technology are many. Tech companies positively impact almost every aspect of human life. With pandemic-led lockdowns, there was an even greater proliferation of technology in daily lives. It enabled communication channels to remain unaffected, allowed remote work and education to continue, and also offered entertainment options aplenty.

However, despite our interconnected world, we have become frustrated at our inability to fully access public services. How can the ongoing technological revolution help foster a shared humanity? How will 5G support our many needs and who can imagine how it will create a better-connected future for society?

Horasis is organizing the Horasis Global Meeting on 08 June 2021 to deliberate on such topics of concern. The one-day virtual event will see participation from diverse backgrounds, spanning members of governments, businesses, academia, and the media. The goal is to deliberate on pressing issues affecting society and collectively arrive at sustainable and practical solutions.

Harnessing the Power of Blockchain

Democratization of technology is now well acknowledged. But what is perhaps less highlighted is a tech marvel that is allowing this democratization to only grow further. Blockchain holds the potential to improve not only lives but also make businesses and public services more efficient and robust.

Blockchain technology offers open-source software that developers can use to build their own applications. Therefore, there is no intellectual property infringement if an individual or organization uses this open-source feature to develop their own innovative products or services. Furthermore, it is decentralized – meaning, there is no one person controlling the network.

Governments in many regions globally have been quick to realize its immense benefits, especially in the domain of dispensing public services. While some governments are developing their own blockchain based initiatives, others are enlisting the services of the private sector. In Brazil, for instance, a blockchain startup called Ubitquity focuses on the real estate segment. It is assisting the land registrar offices in two municipalities to become completely paper free, while safeguarding against theft, corruption, damage, and forgery. Ubiquity is built on the bitcoin blockchain.

Provision of quality education is one of the cornerstones of effective governance. And in this regard, Ethiopia’s education ministry recently entered into an agreement with Cardano – a reputed blockchain firm. It will allow the ministry to track the academic performance of five million Ethiopian students. Meanwhile, 750,000 teachers will receive access to the system. 

India’s central government has shown a tepid reception to blockchain systems. However, several state governments in India have recognized the potential it holds. They are actively evaluating the benefits of distributed ledger technology and how it can be implemented in the provision of several public services. These include services such as asset registration, recordkeeping, and disbursal of state government benefits, among others.  A few state governments have green signaled the development of pilot projects. India’s western state of Maharashtra is considering blockchain technology to assist with e-governance. 

The process of land registration in most emerging economies is one that is often frustrating. This is due to lengthy processes and the involvement of unregulated middlemen. Additionally, it is almost entirely a manual process that involves cumbersome paperwork, several tiers of manual verifications by officials, and duplication of processes. Land title transfers are equally trying. With the implementation of blockchain systems, precious time can be saved and frustrations associated with repeated follow-ups and visits can be entirely eliminated.

Transformations that 5G Can Bring About

Blockchain networks require low latency in networks for optimum efficiency. And this is best delivered by 5G networks. In fact, 5G will enable wider uptake of IoT and AI enabled devices. These will also widen the scope of public services that can be dispensed efficiently with negligible pain points for beneficiaries.

Law enforcement agencies, for example, can ensure higher safety levels by leveraging the power of AI. Using data and live video streams, apprehending criminal elements will become less strenuous. It will also enable security personnel to not place themselves in perilous situations.

Government healthcare centers can gradually allocate funding towards purchase of 5G powered equipment. These will assist in making more precise diagnoses, help in remote patient monitoring services and ensure lower long-term costs. Furthermore, postal workers can use 5G enabled devices such as augmented reality glasses and body mounted cameras for more efficient route planning. These innovations will permit an increase in the number of deliveries made within the same number of working hours.

In sum, 5G and blockchain technology will allow public service providers to completely eliminate existing frustrations. Moreover, the use of tech devices will generate data that can be analyzed to gauge employee efficiency levels. Ultimately, higher service levels will be achieved with technology being used for public good. 

Photo Caption: In Ethiopia, blockchain will help track the academic performance of five million students.