Dec 20 2016

Illinois Turns Its Eye Toward Blockchain for Statewide Innovation

In an attempt to be among the nation’s first to adopt distributed ledger technologies, the Prairie State strives to serve as an innovator and incubator of blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology is the poster child for innovation in the financial tech space, but Illinois is taking an ambitious step forward by attempting to boldly adopt distributed ledger technology into several of its state agencies.

The state announced last month at the Blockchain Conference Chicago that it was forming the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, a private-public partnership dedicated to exploring and utilizing blockchain in real-world and compelling ways, reports StateScoop.

Blockchain technology “is a shared digital ledger, or a continually updated list of all transactions. This decentralized ledger keeps a record of each transaction that occurs across a fully distributed or peer-to-peer network, either public or private,” according to an article from international auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Blockchain technology’s most well-known use thus far is that it provides the underlying foundation supporting the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. But Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt is eager to utilize blockchain to help the nation’s fifth largest state blaze trails as a state IT leader.

On the official page for the Illinois Blockchain Initiative on the Department of Innovation & Technology’s website, the agency lays out its goal in leveraging the technology:

The goal of the initiative is to determine if this groundbreaking technology can be leveraged to create more efficient, integrated and trusted state services, while providing a welcoming environment for the Blockchain community. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology has the potential to transform the delivery of public and private services, redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust, and make a leading contribution to the state’s digital transformation.

Illinois state agencies that have signed up to participate in the initiative thus far include the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, the Department of Insurance, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Department of Innovation & Technology, and the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, reports Government Technology.

While Illinois is taking a leadership role in bringing blockchain technology to state governments, it’s not the only state doing so. Delaware launched a similar blockchain initiative earlier this year, as StateTech reported.

But the much larger population in Illinois — 12.8 million as compared to 935,000 in Delaware — makes it possible for blockchain technology to have an even larger impact. With Illinois and Delaware leading the way, it will be interesting to see the first true adoptions and use cases of blockchain within those states — and, subsequently, which other states might follow in their footsteps.


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