North Carolina Formally Explores Potential Blockchain Applications

A new task force will examine how the state government can use blockchain to spur economic growth and cut costs.

North Carolina earlier this month created a task force of experts from the private sector and academia to explore how the state government can use blockchain technology. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announced the North Carolina Blockchain Initiative to “study the unique attributes and use-cases of blockchain technology, virtual assets, smart contracts and digital tokens,” according to a press release

The group will come up with a set of recommendations for how the state government can use blockchain in ways “that promote opportunities for economic growth, cost efficiencies” and position the Tarheel State as a leader in technological innovation.

MORE FROM STATETECH: Discover the drivers of technology innovation in government. 

What Is Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain technology, a report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers notes, “fits into the enterprise as a new and growing capability for creating, recording, and verifying transactions instantaneously using a decentralized autonomous logic.”

No central authority is required to authorize, verify or approve a transaction. Instead, blockchain serves as “a shared, global, incorruptible and therefore trusted ledger of economic transactions. It is controlled equally by all who wish to participate and transparent, yet private.”

A blockchain is a steadily growing count of “blocks” that create an immutable record where each block is “chained” or linked to the previous block using state-of-the-art cryptography, NASCIO notes. Each entry in the blockchain is recorded, then validated and reconciled by all participants in the network to ensure its consistent integrity.

Other states are exploring blockchain initiatives. In Utah, the Beehive State is looking to move its vehicle title registration system to blockchain so that the buyer, seller, banks and insurance companies involved can all digitally complete the transaction during a title change.

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North Carolina Explores Blockchain Uses

Forest named Dan Spuller, the director of member services for the Chamber of Digital Commerce, as a co-chair of the task force (alongside Faruk Okcetin, co-founder of the North Carolina Digital Economy Hub, and Eric Porper of the Warp Institute).

Spuller tells Government Technology that the task force, which has nine other members, will “review how digital identities, record-keeping, insurance claims management and more can be deployed by various cabinet agencies,” the publication reports. 

“There’s a few different state agencies, I think, that can benefit from this technology and they just need to know about it,” he says. “What we hope to do as the task force is to encourage, develop and determine a series of proposals and recommendations to present.”

The task force will hold several in-person meetings but aims to work in a decentralized manner that allows the experts to develop and provide their ideas to Forest as efficiently as possible, Spuller tells Government Technology. The public will also be able to submit ideas via an online portal. The goal is to deliver recommendations by the end of this year or in early 2020, and then for Forest to present the findings to the state’s General Assembly next year, according to the publication.

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Jul 30 2019

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