fractal-2027959_1280Blockathon Ireland is a blockchain hackathon hosted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in association with The Department of Finance. It aims to identify and analyse potential real-life use-cases of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in public services. The two day event – on January 25-27th envisages technical teams presented with Public Service business problems for solving by using blockchain technology

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, said, “Blockchain technologies have proposed new economic, business, social and technological models that have the potential to significantly impact business and society. As part of Our Public Service 2020, our Government has pledged to drive innovation in policy design and service delivery, as well as promote a culture of innovation across our public service. We believe this can partially be achieved through the use of novel and alternative mechanisms, new platforms and unusual channels. Consulting and engaging experts on innovation from across the public sector, academia and the private sector to share ideas is a valuable action under the strategy, and this hackathon offers an opportunity to do so.”

Paschal Donohoe TD
Paschal Donohoe

The Blockathon

The hackathon will see various potential business problems provided in advance to technical teams. These will range:

  • from medical device tracking in the HSE
  • to verifying CSO data
  • to tracking State Aid for Enterprise Ireland.

The teams will brainstorm blockchain-based solutions and compete for a portion of an €8,500 prize fund (to be awarded to the best outcomes). Four judging criteria will apply and cover:

  • innovation
  • relevance
  • the solution
  • the proof-of-concept.

The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of:

  • what potential blockchain technology has for public services
  • how it might improve current processes, development, citizen user experience, efficiency and more.

Expert stakeholders, sourced from the growing blockchain community in Ireland, will judge and mentor the participating teams. The hope is this will promote cross-functional collaboration between government, academia and the private sector.

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and preliminary work

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is led by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD. He is supported by Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, Patrick O’Donovan TD. The goal of the Department is to serve Ireland, its people and the Government by delivering well-managed and well-targeted public spending, through modernised, effective and accountable public services.

This blockathon follows the work undertaken by the intradepartmental working group on blockchain and virtual currencies. Mr Donohoe launched this in March 2018.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan TD said, “A joint effort by both Departments and representative of the ambition of the Government as a whole, Blockathon Ireland offers a unique opportunity to explore the potential for blockchain. Minister Donohoe and I welcome the opportunity to offer a platform for constructive collaboration with the aim of exploring the capabilities of disruptive technologies in public services.”

Patrick O'Donovan
Patrick O’Donovan

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

In the past, Enterprise Times has speculated how blockchain has potential uses in an Ireland separated by Brexit. While this was largely fanciful, it did set out a specific instance of how and where blockchain might be deployed.

This Government of Ireland blockathon in one sense has a more narrow focus. It applies to Ireland (the country) rather than Ireland (the island). Enterprise Times looks forward to hearing what participants discover and evaluating the relevance.


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