Speaking at a Blockchain Symposium in Singapore on November 16, 2017, Koen Lukas Hartog, the Program Manager of blockchainpilots.nl, described the ongoing efforts of the Dutch government to reconcile public infrastructures with blockchain technology.
Round of Pilots Give Promising Results
The first round of tests began in May 2016, with the relevant government organizations working alongside experts to assess the viability of the technology. Over 30 such pilot projects were successfully conducted and concluded between mid-2016 and November 2017.
The Dutch project was set up in early 2016 by the Dutch Public Service with the aim of improving awareness and knowledge regarding blockchains among participating organizations. As a secondary aim, the project was also assimilated to research likely future use cases for the technology.
The advantages of blockchain technology first came to light when bitcoin used it as a decentralized and distributed ledger. Since its release nine years ago, the cryptocurrency market has proven to be an overwhelming success.
This success eventually brought public attention to the underlying technology since it serves as a backbone for many digital currencies.
Many Nations Interested and More Use Cases
Netherlands’ apparent interest in blockchain technology is not an isolated incident either. A host of other nations, including India, China, United States, Australia, and Russia have expressed a desire to innovate and find novel, yet practical use-cases for the technology.
In November 2017, the Australian government announced an $8 million grant for a smart utilities pilot program.
Going into detail about some of the tests, Koen Hartog stated that several government organizations, including the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Ministry of Justice and Security and Central Judicial Collection Agency, have been part of the trial process.
He went on to describe several such prototypes, starting with the one developed in collaboration with the Dutch Tax Agency wherein a blockchain is used as an integral part of a new system that boasts increased efficiency and flexibility to store data for the chain of stakeholders.
The Ministry of Justice and Security explored several blockchain related projects, especially proving the usefulness of blockchain’s immutable nature. Given that the data once written to a blockchain is stored there permanently, the technology can be used to share information among stakeholders in a trial. Furthermore, data logged onto a blockchain could be used as evidence during a trial.
Another presentation, this time by Frans Rijkers, a Senior Adviser at the Dutch National Office for Identity Data revealed a prototype for a ‘self-sovereign’ digital identity. The proposed system would not only eliminate the reliance on paper certificates and other such processes by digitizing their records on an immutable blockchain Rijkers stated that the technology would also allow citizen data to be verified anywhere in the world through a smartphone app.
According to the adviser, the prototype has been developed to such an extent that it even includes provisions for adding data to the registry after a citizen’s biometrics has been verified at a local municipal office.
The Netherlands is looking to work with other countries, especially those part of the European Commission, to incorporate blockchain technology at the international level. Some other countries such as Estonia and Dubai have also shown interest in collaborating for the development of blockchain applications.