Blockchain is transforming the world and we created the first pilot to experiment with this technology, promoting this transformation in the Colombian State entities making it more efficient, transparent and agile. We seek to accompany and promote projects that generate better services and processes within the entities; learning and documenting the entire process.
Blockchain is a technology that is transforming many industries and sectors and we decided to create this pilot to experiment in a controlled way those changes in the Colombian State entities. The advantages of using this technology are becoming more and more evident, but the Colombian public sector continues to see this type of technology as very distant from its daily work. Therefore, it is necessary to develop spaces that are a safe bridge between the needs and what an emerging technology has to offer in the resolution of public challenges.
Thus, from the Center for Digital Public Innovation of the ICT Ministry of Colombia, the First Space for Experimentation with Blockchain Technology in the Colombian Public Sector was made available, which allows public entities of the territorial and national order to access free of charge to infrastructure, technical support, technology appropriation, development of proofs of concept and testing of solutions, within the framework of the competencies of each entity, to understand and carry out the provision of state services through new technological models.
The pilot has so far been executed in 2 phases:
-Phase 1: 3 entities were selected that had a landed and viable idea for this technology. The 3 entities selected for this phase were prioritized by the ICT Ministry according to the need of the national order to generate public value in terms of transparency, fight against corruption and optimization of processes within the entities. These three entities are: The National Land Agency, the Rural Agricultural Planning Unit and the Superintendence of Registry and Notary. A private company was assigned to these entities and donated its time and resources to develop an MVP tailored to the needs of each entity.
-Phase 2: was a series of workshops and talks with the objective of teaching about blockchain, resolving doubts, and accompanying the entities to turn their ideas into viable projects for this technology. It was a phase of appropriation of the technology. The 14 entities selected for this phase were chosen through an open call where each entity sent the required documentation according to their needs.
The main objective is to learn about the subject, experiment, make mistakes and continue learning in order to generate lessons learned and encourage other entities to be encouraged to implement real and innovative solutions for their needs.
The second objective is to facilitate a friendly space through experimentation, where the entities feel free to learn and discover a new technology, and thus take ownership of it by implementing it in a solution tailored to their needs. As we are learning, we are also doing and generating tangible results during the process.
As part of this pilot, the "Blockchain Reference Guide for the Adoption and Implementation of Projects in the Colombian State" was updated. This guide comprises two parts. The first one corresponds to the description of Blockchain technology, the importance of promoting an open government, the identification of appropriation initiatives in the country and some use cases with usability. The second, the implementation of the technology in concrete projects, so that a step by step is presented to present a project based on principles and a governance process for planning, building a prototype, scaling a minimum viable product and managing change.
There are 2 components to the beneficiary issue. One is the entity that experiences, learns and implements an innovative solution, including entities of all sizes and from all regions. And the second is the population served by the entity. For example, in the case of the land registry, the people who after a judge's sentence were assigned land is registered in the blockchain. And in the case of price traceability in blockchain, the buyer who does not see the prices of their products inflated.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
It is innovative because it reinvents the mission processes performed by the participating entities with the use of disruptive technology such as Blockchain. The Pilot allows exploring and learning the technology, generating valuable learning for its subsequent implementation and encouraging more entities to experiment as well, but it also applies a technological mechanism to provide significant improvements and a new organizational mode in the Colombian State. The goal is to learn, develop functional solutions and sow the seed of public innovation in other entities.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Initially with the participation of IDB, which allowed shaping the approach of projects such as LAC-CHAIN in the region and enabled the transfer of knowledge at the national level. Agreements were signed with Peersysyt Technology, Grupo Sabra and Extrimiam, who agreed to work together, at their own risk, to develop proof of concepts and pilot blockchain developments for Colombian government public projects identified and prioritized by the ICT Ministry.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
-Phase 1: National Agency of Territory , Rural Agricultural Planning Unit and the Superintendence of Notaries and Registries.
-Phase 2: Municipality of Chía, Institute for the Development of Antioquia, Technological Center of Cúcuta, Tourism Observatory - Municipality of Bogotá, Government of Bolívar, Municipality of Bucaramanga, Municipality of Algarrobo, ICA, INVIAS, Municipality of Medellín, National Agency of Territory, Ministry of Finance, Municipality of Bello.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
We proposed to develop proofs of concept, and the use of collaborative spaces was of such an impact that two prototypes were consolidated for phase 1, which are ready to be deployed in production.
In Phase 2, gaps in blockchain appropriation were overcome, and a Phase 3 became necessary, in which we expect to advance in consulting in order to consolidate minimum viable products.Other entities have heard/read about the pilot, and have contacted us because they want to participate, as is the case of Banco de la República, which learned about the exercise from the Ministry of Finance, and are now exploring the idea of a digital currency.
More and more public entities are recognizing the advantages of emerging technologies and identifying opportunities for use in their processes. Claims such as blockchain is very expensive or only applies to the private sector are demystified, because at zero cost this experiment tests new customized developments.
Challenges and Failures
Initially, it was planned to adopt the COCREAR methodology of the Digital Public Innovation Center of the ICT Ministry, but given the testing conditions of the project, some difficulties were encountered to implement them within the foreseen plans. Hence, it became necessary to define a governance model in the update of the Blockchain Reference Guide of the Colombian State, so that now there is greater clarity on the feasibility and implementation of this type of projects in the country.
Likewise, some of the challenges include the lack of interest on the part of the entity's management team. For this reason, we have asked for a commitment signed by the leader of the entity and even so, there have been some that throughout the process lose interest and participate less. Another factor is the change of government, this has generated changes in the management teams and in some moments there has been disinformation or they even moved away from the process altogether.
Conditions for Success
Since this is a pre-commercial public procurement project, the main success factor has been to be very insistent that it is a space for experimentation, and this allows us to adopt an experimental approach in a research and development process. There are possibilities of transferring knowledge and applying iteration, which translates into flexibility and willingness for new ideas, new challenges and puts us all in an attitude of experimenting, questioning and learning.
Another factor is the relationship with the public sector, which shows that it is possible to promote public-private partnerships to generate knowledge transfer scenarios and consolidate the growth of the adoption of emerging technologies, based on the "learning by doing" technique.
The experimentation space is easily replicable as a complete project, i.e., replicating another complete pilot or at the level of disaggregated initiatives, since it is possible to work only with a public entity and accompany it throughout the process of design, development, iteration and learning of a minimum viable product.
In our experience, several entities wanted to participate, but during the course of the pilot they became discouraged, and given that we have the technical support of private companies that are making their physical and financial capital available, we must ensure that those who start the process can finish it.
A process for monitoring and evaluating the initiatives should be designed from the outset. Although it was contemplated from the beginning of the pilot that it would be evaluated at the end, the lack of clear metrics throughout the process did not allow for easy measurement at the closing of each project once the minimum viable products were delivered.
The proposed schedule for each intervention must be respected; initially a six-month accompaniment had been planned and this was extended to one year, which implied more work for the private partners and the impossibility of starting the practical work with other public entities until the first ones were finished.
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
23 November 2022