Stakeholder views on blockchain, technology adoption, organisational capacity, and change.
Keith Fisken – SEStran, Scotland
As part of the BLING project SEStran undertook a review of the blockchain environment in Scotland/the UK. The work reviewed the use of blockchain in the UK with a particular focus on blockchain in transport and blockchain in the public sector (especially local government).
LOCAL GOVERNMENT APPLICATIONS
|Identity||Freight & Logistics|
|Title & Asset Registration||Mobility as a Service (MaaS)|
|Digital Certification||Smart Mobility|
|Public Accounting, Contracts & Taxes||Aviation|
|Law & Legal Systems||Autonomous Vehicles|
Blockchain in the public sector in the UK – key findings
2019 Scottish Government forecasts on future impacts of different technologies on Scottish infrastructure estimated that it would be 15+ years before blockchain had a significant impact – although that estimate was given with a high degree of uncertainty. While the landscape review of blockchain use across the UK uncovered a range of blockchain applications within local government and the wider public sector, there were relatively few Scottish use cases.
Research undertaken by the Big Innovation Centre in 2021 (https://analytics. dkv.global/Blockchain-in-the-UK-2021/Full-Report.pdf) found that GovTech – which encompasses technologies and solutions that aim to digitise public administrations – accounted for only 2.3% of companies using blockchain technology in the UK and was 13th out of the 18 industries on the list.
The work undertaken by SEStran found that the blockchain space in Scotland and the UK confirmed that ‘transport’ and ‘government’ have experienced less blockchain adoption than other sectors (such as financial services, digital/software, healthcare etc.).
While there are a number of blockchain use cases in the public sector, there is limited evidence of implementation. Blockchain adoption within the transport sector is limited, with ‘supply chain & logistics’ representing roughly 11% of companies identified as working in this area.
Scottish stakeholder views on DLT adoption
A wide range of stakeholders were consulted as part of the work to ascertain their views on the potential roles of blockchain in transport and government in Scotland. There was a wide range of experience within the Scottish transport context, with interviewees being familiar with a range of other disruptive technologies including, for example, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Automation and Robotics. The stakeholders tended to be more familiar with other disruptive technologies than with blockchain – and many noted that these other technologies were generally viewed as being further along the adoption curve than blockchain. The view of stakeholders was that automation and data projects were viewed as requiring less of a ‘technology leap’ than the adoption of blockchain and smart contracts – so these interventions were more readily accepted by organisations.
Blockchain and transport in Scotland
Potential transport specific areas that stakeholders identified as future opportunities for blockchain-enabled services included MaaS (Mobility as a Service), smart ticketing systems,
EV charging, autonomous vehicles, asset tracking and last mile logistics, and smart mobility / smart cities. These stakeholder views were strongly aligned with the findings from Optimat’s desk research.
Government services must be designed to reach all citizens, which includes providing for those who are not digital natives to ensure provision for all. This means governments often have multiple ways to complete processes and deliver services, and while these older solutions need to be retained, this often means that there is less of an incentive to adopt new technologies. The impact of this lack of incentive is that the length of time it takes the public sector to adopt new technologies can be rather higher than it is in the private sector.
Different business models and new ways of working will be required to get the best from the blockchain technology, which is both an opportunity for change, and a challenge for achieving interest and buy-in. The challenges of working with and managing stakeholders were highlighted, with more than half of the interviewees highlighting the challenges faced in determining the right stakeholders, and then ensuring that the right people within these companies/organisations were incorporated in project development and then delivery. The distributed nature of blockchain-enabled systems also raises questions about how the costs of implementation and operation are shared amongst stakeholders – particularly if there are large variations in the digital capabilities of stakeholders.