With the rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain communities, developments have been made to address a variety of complex social issues in our current global sphere. More recently, the United Nations has collaborated with the World Food Organisation and Eye pay. In early March 2018, this network has successfully introduced a new blockchain technology into five different ‘stores’ amongst the Syrian refugees in Jordan as part of a United Nations aid program. Consequently, the identification and financial transactions these refugees are able to participate in have been transformed, altering the aid system surrounding this sphere.
The block chain is a multi-faceted model, that eliminates the need for profiting corporations. Instead, it creates a consenting community, where all members are equal and trade for their immediate benefit. Alex Tapscott; a block chain specialist, claims this new system could benefit areas from financial transactions to personal identification. Financial news outlets including Fortune have concluded that the utilisation of this evolutionary technology “…will let millions of refugees and other without documents whip out a phone or other device to quickly show who they are and where they came from.”
This means that refugees could be identified without paper documents. This is a vital development which opens doors to further tying documentation to an individual’s genetic key; in this case, the iris could create the opportunity to prevent an individual’s identity or identification being destroyed. Consequently, refugees and potentially citizens could be able to maintain a sound identity regardless of natural disaster influences; if their documentation were destroyed in a fire, their blockchain ID would already hold all the relevant data.
In conjunction with personal identification, this could further update mobile medical documentation. If personal documents are able to become linked to a person, so could a medical record or patient chart. This would allow for a patient’s file to be permanently attached, opening doors to faster patient consultation when medical intervention is available within these camps. Often, there is minimal medical assistance available to asylum seekers or refugees, creating an unstable, inconsistent treatment process. Assumably, this would impact the camp medics ability to maintain a clear medical record for any patient. However, with blockchain this could be created electronically and made accessible whenever required by the relevant professionals, utilizing technologies much like the Eyepay system.
While this would be an invaluable tool within the refugee camp scenario, general medical practices and services amongst the Western world are turning towards cloud network inspired record systems. Blockchain technologies would provide a bypass of the third party intellectual property conflicts or be breaching commitments to client privacy that can be presented by external data recording networks in cloud system networks. Consequently, production towards this development has already begun under multiple online medical record databases, dubbing themselves the ‘medicalchain’, as a subsect of the blockchain community. While there are currently a number of perceived risks and limits, such as privacy, hackability, and so on, there has been a resurged interest in this area following the UN projects successful lunch earlier this year.
Furthermore, the introduction of this interconnected, consenting community could allow for freeing up information sharing and data collection. This information could provide opportunity for progressive attention and research to be drawn from the lives of refugees. Content in this could range from how regularly refugees participate in events or shopping, through to how many seek medical attention or what food purchases are made.
If blockchain were to become integrated amongst the general public, market and social trends could become further studied, uncovering trend patterns, behaviours and so on. This is reflected in the United Kingdom, where the Ministry of Justice has expressed their thoughts. This has predominantly been focused on enabling the government access to secure and verifiable information databases and relevant evidence.
This integration could also contribute to transnational tracking of wanted individuals. Through iris pay, it would become normalised for members of the general public to exist within this retinal database; with their genetically unique prints tied to their personal documentation. Consequently, the informative base for criminal identification and tracking would broaden, creating an expanded pool of information for credible enforcement to inhabit. Through increasing this database, a greater number of trackable markers and interconnected systems would create an unlimited network for information exchange to occur.
While blockchain has become successfully integrated amongst the Syrian refugees, there remains a grey area of unharnessed potential within this field. Blockchain opens the door to disrupt third-party corporations and unhinge the capitalist nature of personal transactions. Within this piece, I have only briefly touched on the digital documentation benefits of grouping block community transactions. However, there is a great deal of growth to be made in order to create a safe, legally sound information block community to ensure integrity, confidentiality and consensual information sharing. Block community networks present different attributes to all areas of intellectual, trade and service sharing, and through integrating these modes in the early phase; in the form of Eye Pay in the refugee camps, the door has now been opened to an array of ideas, developments and a potential movement.