Austin, in Texas, has developed and implemented a blockchain based ID system that has been specifically designed to help homeless people. As part of the Bloomberg American Cities Initiative, which was sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The project is based around blockchain technology, and aims to build a system that stores personal records, which then provides a unique identity to give to homeless people that do not have ID, to enable them to obtain vital services.
The project is still very much in the early stages, with the city’s chief innovation officer, Kerry O’Connor saying;
“What we’ve received the grant money for is testing and learning and prototyping.”
This new project is not the only one that has been targeted to help the homeless. There are more than 60 different organisations that are working together to combat the issue. O’Connor added;
“We’re really excited by the promise of blockchain being distributed in order to make a more seamless experience across these organisations…As part of our innovation work we have an advisory committee of people experiencing homelessness here in Austin, so we’ll be designing this with them, not for them, making sure that this can fit their context.”
The project will run over two parts – the first will be determining what kind of data is necessary to build a profile. This might not be easy, as those who are homeless might not have access to their birth certificate or social security number etc. The second part will involve the testing of biometric systems, in order to identify individuals without using a physical form of ID.
They are set to see an investment of $17.5 million made in grants, and it is expected that in August, the progress of the projects will be checked, and if successful, will receive an additional $1 million, with the possibility of securing a further $5 million.
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