Much awaited and highly attended – the BLING Mid-Term Conference
No shiny diamonds but ascending blockchain technology
“If you are here to hear about fancy cars and flashy diamonds, I am sorry to inform you that you are participating in the wrong conference.” This is the line our moderator Dr Hannah Rudman welcomed us with to the 2021 BLING Mid Term conference. Of course, BLING is not about shiny things but simply the acronym of the project title “Blockchain in Government”.
“Europe needs start taking the blockchain and digital currencies seriously and elaborate on the advantages but also threats it creates for our current currency system.”
The conference was kicked off by Professor at IT University of Copenhagen and Head of the European Blockchain Center, Roman Beck, with his keynote on Blockchain Economics. He elaborated on the current European blockchain digital and cryptocurrency situation, and speculated what developments can be expected in the future financial world market, highlighting how important these international cooperative projects like BLING are to drive the change, and consider now the real benefits to all citizens as well as the governance implications.
Doing things smarter with use cases
After a short break, all participants had the opportunity to choose between two Break-Out groups with 2 in-depth talks on use cases, for example, the attendance application for meetings from Drenthe (Self Sovereign Attendance), smart contracts for transport from Edinburgh (Location Data through Smart Contracts) and as well as the digital replacement for the traditional Bill of Lading (BoL). Following that, were two interesting start-up pitches about blockchain technology in use and adding value for gaming companies.
Europe’s way towards more blockchain integration
Reenergized after a quick lunch break, key note speaker and convenor for the European Self Sovereign Identity Framework at the European Blockchain Partnership, Daniel du Seuil, introduced all participants to the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI), nudging an interesting discussion on cooperation in blockchain usage. EBSI is a European partnership aiming to deliver cross-border digital public services in accordance to the highest security and privacy standards. With a further set of use cases already live, many of the services are available now and can be used by the member states citizens. Daniel’s hope is that the EBSI can create a transformation of the social contract governments have with citizens.
Integrating Blockchain in our lives needs to have a purpose
Following that was a second round on Break-Out groups with again 2 in depth talks on use cases like Healthy on the Blockchain as a joint project by Roeselare and Howest or the Blockchain Readiness Assessment Tool by Gothenburg University. Juho Lindman, the key note speaker from Gothenburg University finally finished the conference with a reflection on the uncertain promise of blockchain, with the key takeaway that governments need to make smart choices and reflect on whether the nature of the problem demands distributed platforms when it comes to implementing blockchain pilots, instead of just trying to jump on the hype of blockchain. Will it make a service better, easier and faster for citizens? Will it decentralize power out to municipalities and cities? For more information, the published OECD report is highly recommended.
“Although blockchain has yet to affect government in the ways that early hype predicted, government decision makers will nonetheless need to understand and monitor this emerging technology.”
In the wrap up, conference moderator, Hannah Rudman, reflected that the current situation of Covid-19 has accelerated a second era of digital transformation for public services from government. “Foundational to this transformation innovation is blockchain, a distributed platform that can reshape business and recast the old order of human affairs for the better as we have heard today”. She concluded with a challenge – “now’s the time for government leaders to acknowledge our new digital realities and develop a comprehensive framework for achieving prosperity, justice, sustainability, social cohesion, and good government. To do this, governments must become more knowledgeable about technologies such as distributing platforms like blockchain. We need more case studies, more facts, more evidence about the successful implementations. We need to keep accelerating and de-risking the deployment of blockchain-enabled services in government. Please BLING use cases, keep on proving and profiling the positive outcomes, impacts value and benefits of blockchain in the public sector”.
Now, after catching up, connecting and being inspired by all the discussion and interesting questions, the partners of the BLING project are returning to work on their pilots, use cases and research during the second half of the BLING project. We are preparing an extension of the project to include another partner and more exciting use cases. Don’t forget to check out our website and social media channels to follow our progress, and catch up on all use cases in the downloadable BLING magazine!
Key note presentations
- Health Certificate pilot - Oldenburg, Germany
- Attendancy application for meetings - Drenthe, The Netherlands
- Using smart contracts for transport - Edinburgh University, UK
- A procurement platform on blockchain - Antwerp, Belgium
- Healthy on the Blockchain - Roeselare and Howest University of Applied Sciences, Belgium
- Blockchain Readiness Assessing Tool - Gothenburg University, Sweden
- Logistics in ports - Aalborg University, Denmark
- Emergency Break pilot - CJIB, The Netherlands