Austin Embraces Blockchain Technology to Enhance Services for the Homeless
Texas state capital Austin embraces blockchain technology and has initiated a blockchain-based pilot program to resolve one of the biggest challenges of identity management. The pilot program aims to improve services for the homeless by improving identity services.
Blockchain Technology to Store Homeless Identities
The project was developed with a grant from the Mayor’s Challenge Program. U.S. Mayors Challenge is a countrywide contest that challenges city leaders to develop innovative ideas to overcome their city’s biggest problems. The 2018 Mayors Challenge Program was sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies – “A DATA-DRIVEN APPROACH TO GLOBAL CHANGE”. The winner of the program is awarded $5 million USD.
Austin city Mayor Steve Adler told TechCrunch “at a high level, [the pilot] is trying to figure out how to solve one of the challenges we have in our community related to the homeless population, which is how to keep all the information of that individual with that individual.”
According to data provided to the Mayors Challenge program, Austin has over 7,000 homeless residents. Identity is one of the biggest problems the homeless face. As specified by Sly Majid, Chief Services Officer for Austin, the lack of ID cards creates a situation where the homeless are unable to gain employment, enjoy access to medical services, or receive support from the government.
Over the past year, fintech and crypto startups have boomed in the emerging crypto hub. As Austin embraces blockchain technology, the booming city has also seen property values rise, making it more difficult for the homeless to purchase a home.
The new blockchain platform will bridge the gap between the government and private homeless facilitators. The main pupose of the project as Austin embraces blockchain technology is to ensure that the identity and important records of the homeless citizens are stored in a secure place, while at the same time permitting facilitators to access the information.
Mayor Adler highlighted “There are all kinds of confidentiality issues that arise when you try to do that, so the thought was that blockchain would allow us to bridge that need.”
Moreover, the program will allow homeless services providers to verify information using their mobile devices. The project could also store medical records of the homeless population, allowing medical professionals access to homeless patients’ medical histories.
Inspired by a Taiwanese Experiment, Austin Embraces Blockchain Technology
This is not the first project of its kind. Earlier this year, Taiwan’s capital Taipei signed a partnership with the IOTA foundation, pioneer of “blockless” distributed ledger technology, to securely issue smart ID cards using IOTA’s Tangle. Taiwan has a history of being blockchain and crypto-friendly, with many exchanges turning to Taiwanese banks for financial services.
Since blockchain technology has emerged, several innovative projects have been initiated to solve real human challenges. The revolutionary technology has more to offer than providing a financial infrastructure. The technology has the potential to solve many other real-world problems in a secure and systematic manner.
Does the use of blockchain technology for identity purposes excite or frighten you? Share your views in the comments section below.
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