IBM Expands Upon Blockchain’s Role in Helping Serve Justice and Public Safety Sectors
Blockchain technology has already found countless use cases in the last several years, which is a remarkable achievement, considering that it has only been around for ten years, and it was barely noticed at first. Now, it holds the potential to disrupt countless industries and sectors, bring improvements, and serve as the next step in our technological evolution.
However, while most of these use cases still remain theoretical for various reasons, there are also many that are already possible, or even close to being realized. One example is blockchain's impact on public safety and justice sectors. However, to better understand what blockchain can do — we first need to understand what it is.
A Brief Introduction to Blockchain Technology
The blockchain is not a hard concept to grasp, and there are many examples and comparisons that may serve to help you realize what it does and how it works. One of them requires thinking of it as a group text message. Similarly to such messages, blockchain is distributed, resistant to tampering, time-stamped, and it holds all the records of data that was sent on top of it.
It can be used by an unlimited number of people, with some of them being known, while others can keep their pseudo-anonymity if they decide to do so. Similarly to group messaging, these participants will have their “number” displayed, but not their identity, and as long as their identity and their number are never connected to one another, the pseudonymity can remain.
Further, whenever someone sends a message (transaction), it gets stored in the system. It also gets a time stamp, and it cannot be changed. Meanwhile, everyone can see that the message is sent, as part of the system's transparency.
This system allows blockchain networks to exist with no centralized authorities to manage it. Even if one participant's “phone” (node) gets compromised in any way, all of the other participants hold the entire history of what was done and said, meaning that all activity of the group is saved. And, since everyone sees the same information — no one can make false claims and convince others that they are true.
Finally, as there can be an unlimited number of messaging groups, there can also be an unlimited number of blockchains out there.
How can Blockchain Improve Justice and Public Safety
Now that we know the basics of what blockchain is and what it does let's see how it can be used for improving the public safety and justice sectors.
As a decentralized distributed ledger, blockchain can electronically document, encrypt, and share data regarding transactions done on top of it. It has many other use cases, such as creating cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, decentralized applications, and alike. Many additional use cases are being discovered as well, closely tied with blockchain's ability to store data and protect it from being changed, deleted, or manipulated in any other way.
This makes it a trusted database for storing sensitive information, such as identity. This is useful for businesses and individuals alike, as storing identities on the blockchain means that identity thefts will be much harder to pull off. People will no longer have to carry different licenses with them, as all data can be easily stored on the blockchain, and just as easily accessed by services which require it.
In addition, this will help law enforcement identify individuals and quickly learn of their status, discover if they have updated licenses such as the driver's license, firearm licenses, and alike.
This system of storing data can also be used for claiming and proving ownership of property, business transactions such as sales and purchases of assets. Such possibilities will ensure that the rightful owner of assets can claim said assets in case of theft or mistaken ownership.
Meanwhile, a system like this can also be used for registering and tracking criminals, such as sex offenders.
Finally, blockchain can be used for medical and pharmaceutical purposes as well. Patient's data can be stored on the blockchain, with the patient themselves being able to choose who can see it, and what portion of their data can certain individual access. Further, patients can store their medicine prescriptions, particularly when it comes to opioids, which may also help in reducing drug abuse.
Why is Blockchain not Adopted Already?
All of this certainly sounds like a lot of benefits, so why is blockchain not already adopted? Well, as it turns out, there are numerous roadblocks and problems to resolve before such a thing can become possible.
There is a ‘waiting period' until the technology gets perfected, and this is always the case with new, disruptive tech. The same happened to the internet, the IoT industry, and various other technologies that brought major changes. However, the wait is more than worth it.
Meanwhile, blockchain technology will have to get properly regulated, developed, and most importantly — understood. Once it does, it will disrupt not only numerous industries, but also the entire society. More and more devices with the internet connection are appearing as part of the IoT industry, and all of them can be connected to the blockchain. This also includes new, modern vehicles, as well as futuristic projects such as smart homes and even entire smart cities.
The future is approaching rapidly, and it will most likely be built on blockchain technology, which is why the blockchain is considered one of the most important technological breakthroughs in modern times.