Over the last couple of years, blockchain development and implementation have become a priority for governments throughout the world, as decision-makers are becoming more aware of the benefits associated with blockchain technology.
Such is the case with Taiwan, where the region’s digital minister, Audrey Tang, has referred to blockchain as a top priority for public governance. According to her, Taiwan’s democratic rule is still in its infancy; therefore, the region is trying to learn more about the right approach to governance.
In a recent interview by Decrypt, Audrey Tang mentioned that: “In many other parts of the world, democracy is part of their culture, part of their tradition. To change it, you have to learn about hundreds of years of proud republican tradition (…) The people who designed the democracy systems are all still around and very active.”
According to the digital minister, distributed public ledgers (DLTs) are promising systems, since they offer the possibility to build legitimacy across the public sector, through the introduction of accountability. In other words, the government can rely less on professional auditors, and focus more on creating positive change for the local community, while constantly verifying whether projects, policies and even institutions work as designed.
At this point in time, Taiwan has implemented two environmental blockchain-based pilots – an air and a water pollution detection system. Thus, the brief of these systems is that they rely on sensors to measure air and water quality, while all logs are recorded onto the blockchain. Thus, if industrial plants are accused of polluting downstream waterways, the data recorded by the blockchain-based system can be leveraged to determine the plant is responsible for the reported pollution. A nation-wide implementation of such a system can drastically reduce air and water pollution.
However, as numerous experts have pointed out, the possibilities are endless with blockchain. A true democracy might want to use the system in order to consult the population about upcoming legislative bills, policy changes, or government orders, thus facilitating large-scale listening. Taiwan plans to further enhance blockchain adoption by incentivising related governance projects. According to the digital minister, “the more people participate in governance, the better the governance mechanism becomes. Then, they will actually, through social innovation, demonstrate viable prototypes. The government can amplify those viable prototypes, thereby encouraging more people to join.”
Taiwan has also created a blockchain alliance, encompassing industry experts, academics, developers and decision-makers that collaborate on designing the future’s blockchain-based governance systems.
Hopefully, Taiwan’s example will encourage more nations to look into blockchain’s governance benefits. So far, the technology is mostly used for financial purposes and business-related record-keeping, while fewer implementations exist in the public sector.