Hi everyone, would like to share with you the first in a series of articles that are being written on the benefits of blockchain to industry/business/government. This particular case uses NEM NIS1, but there will be more to come with Symbol.Note that these are written for a wider audience that may not know much about blockchain. Please enjoy.
Downloadable PDF: Here.
NEM Blockchain Solutions for Law Enforcement
Over the past few years, companies have expressed interest and started to research how to use blockchain in an operational capacity. Like the adoption of the internet, adopting the blockchain for your organization will put you on the cutting edge of operational security and efficiency.
First you may ask, “What is blockchain?” In its simplest form, blockchain is an authoritative record of data where everyone who participates gets a permanent record of every addition and change. Once an entry is written to a blockchain, it cannot be altered by anyone, and everyone can see when and by whom it was added. It also provides enhanced security. This is because members of the network can be required to verify their identities to participate. Since the data is spread over many computers, security is enhanced. There’s no central institution hosting all the data, so the network is less vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Transactions on a blockchain are furthermore immutable: because each block is part of a chain linked to other blocks they cannot be tampered with or altered. This helps in the fight against fraud and money laundering, as well as helping law enforcement and auditors track transactions.
For company blockchain solutions, there are several options. Popular solutions include Ethereum and Hyperledger, but one excellent choice built specifically for companies is the NEM blockchain. From financial transactions, to document storage, to smart contracts and beyond, NEM’s Smart Assets can help your organization optimize on this pioneering technology that can take your organization to the next level of business.
Most blockchains come with only bare-bones features, such as sending digital currency. If your company needs more sophisticated data management, as most do, you’ll have to implement special chunks of code called smart contracts. Integrating the right kind of smart contract code is one of the big challenges of business blockchain technology, since it can expose networks to bugs and security flaws. Since smart contracts are distributed across many machines, it can also take a long time to update fixes across the whole network.
Instead of smart contracts, NEM uses something called Smart Assets. With Smart Assets, most smart contract functions are already built into the network and there’s no code manipulation or potential security flaws.
Smart Assets are records that can represent unchangeable things that are identical like dollars. They can represent unchangeable things that are all different like vehicle ownership titles. Or they can represent unique changeable items such as each employee’s equipment inventory. On other blockchains it’s quite difficult to have this flexibility, but NEM has it pre-loaded.
NEM’s blockchain technology offers the potential to drastically simplify an enormous variety of secure ledger and transaction tracking systems. It provides an adaptable API interface that can be used with any programming language. Designed with modular customization in mind, NEM can be integrated with almost any existing network or application.
How NEM can help Law Enforcement
With NEM’s Smart Assets system, law enforcement can benefit from blockchain technology just as much as a financial institution or regular corporation. Below are a few examples of relevant applications of blockchain technology for law enforcement.
● Document storage and access – Digital case files are now being rolled out across the criminal justice system, allowing multiple agencies access to the same files in digital form. On a blockchain such data may be updated more quickly, and wider access permitted, while at the same time being part of a secure network. Decentralized, distributed records are a perfect way of storing information because they’re extremely tough to tamper with, transparent, and can be updated in real time.
● Reporting - In policing, crime reports can be made on a distributed ledger, with victim data updated automatically every time there is a development in the case, rather than police officers or prosecutors having to remember to phone the victim.
● Interoperability – The challenges facing policing services are increasingly complex and require multiple agencies to work together to solve problems, intervene early and provide better services. One of the biggest barriers to collaboration is the reluctance or inability of agencies to share information and, while progress has been made, few would deny that sharing data between police forces and between the police and other agencies is a continuing challenge. Blockchain can help by allowing multiple users access to the same data with varying levels of permission.
● Personal Data - A benefit is that it could give citizens much greater control of their personal data, enabling more personalised services.
● Efficiency – With many agencies involved in police work, the number of organizations involved in any one case oftentimes muddies progress. This level of complexity presents multiple opportunities for mistakes to be made and for duplication to occur. Blockchain technology could enable automatic updates and design in rules to prevent error.
● Transparency - The transparency of the ledger means that law enforcement can follow the digital trail in blockchain transactions, and encryption means that the identities of criminals and witnesses remain hidden. For victims or prosecutors, everyone with a copy of the ledger can view it and see any changes as they happen. That means that people involved in criminal cases, such as victims, and advocates/solicitors will be able to see updates on the case without having to wait for the police to contact them directly.
● Evidence Verification – To verify evidence, chain of custody is always of paramount importance. For evidence verification the system would be as such: you put a hash on the blockchain, which corresponds to a physical file (stored safely in a police station, for example) which contains evidence. Because the ledger is immutable and can’t be tampered with, it can be used to check if the evidence is real. Just compare the hash to the ‘real’ file, and it matches up. With NEM, you can make your documents and evidentiary items incorruptible by putting a complete record of origin and chain of custody in the blockchain.
These are but a few of the practical client-facing services that NEM Smart Assets system can offer Law Enforcement.
Back of office operational NEM blockchain support
● Financial Management/Accounting - All transactions and documents in NEM are permanently preserved and untamperable on the blockchain, allowing for complete transparency with finance, contracts, and other records. This makes it easy for automation of accounting in real time.
● Awarding Rank/Promotions – A digital certificate can be created to award promotions and to advance ranks. Tokens can also be used, as they are immutable, to double check education requirements and other licenses.
● Certificate Issuance/Professional Development Certification - NEM’s data management tools are perfect for public and private record keeping. It’s great for professional certificates such as for accountants, healthcare providers, brokers, and law enforcement. You can create your own certificates or use standardized ones specifically for Law Enforcement. This is a perfect way to award professional development certifications. You can set them to be private or publicly accessible.
● Verifying Credentials - One of NEM’s strengths is its ease of use for authenticating documents. NEM can instantly create a timestamped hash (cryptographic signature) of any document or file. This is stored permanently on the blockchain so you can compare any future versions against it. If the file has been changed in any way the signatures won’t match. This saves time, money, and removes the need for notaries. It’s great for use with patents, trade registrations, licences, and anything that should be notarized. (Apostille is one such notarization app that’s already up and running. It allows instant cryptographic proof of any file’s authenticity. It also records ownership data and a timestamp to prove who recorded it and when.)
● Logistics (Supply Chain Management) - NEM’s blockchain can reduce costs and improve performance in automatic supply chain management. With this type of system, whenever a customer places an order new parts are automatically ordered to begin replacing that inventory. Manufacturing progress and shipment tracking are also part of the system. This cuts out any middlemen tampering and reduces the threat of corruption and bribery. Every action in the supply chain process is automatically generated and documented in real time, allowing savings and better performance in just-in-time delivery.
● Legal Compliance – Agencies are required to keep records of compliance with laws and industry regulations. This includes things like employee harassment training, safety inspections, employee certifications, background checks, equipment maintenance, and accident reports. Maintaining and auditing these records have high costs but losing them can expose the agency to legal and political risks. Many agencies still keep paper records as backups for all these reasons. Once a record is entered into the NEM blockchain it’s there permanently, timestamped, with a record of who filed it and a complete history of any changes. Strong encryption keeps sensitive data confidential.
● Pension Management – Management of an Agencies pension contributions through NEM’s blockchain eliminates mismanagement of funds and ensures that the correct contributions are made and matched to the correct employee. For pension payouts, the verification system greatly decreases risk of pension fraud and duplication in payments or withholding of earned funds. The history of every financial account is preserved for auditing and this history cannot be altered.
● Encrypted Messaging – Hacking of law enforcement officer’s mobile phones and computer systems is a real threat. Messages sent through the NEM Blockchain can be natively encrypted using the user’s private key. This ensures authenticity and privacy while maintaining security. Data storage and transmission on a public or private NEM network has never been hacked or compromised.
● Equipment Maintenance – NEM has partnered with LuxTag, a company that provides a certificate of authenticity for high value equipment. With Agencies on tight budgets, they want to optimise their operational dollars and do due diligence on procurement. LuxTag is used to authenticate high-value assets such as vehicles, which can be a high expense for law enforcement agencies. Records can also include useful information about repairs and upgrades, something no certificate of authenticity can do.
● Access Control for Sensitive and Confidential Documents/Systems- NEM is the first blockchain with built-in multisignature access. This makes it easy to control who has access to which data records or tokens and limit access to cryptocurrencies, tokens, and records tracked in the NEM blockchain. Multisignature accounts allow the creator to specify how many signatures out of a possible maximum are needed to access the account. This is called N of M signatures. So, an account might require the signature of any 3 of 6 total board members to send the account’s funds or tokens.
● Technical - NEM is a developer friendly platform that focuses on fast and secure development by offering a set of built-in features that do not require complex smart contracts nor a specific language. Law Enforcement Agencies can use these ‘out of the box’ solutions with relative ease without having to learn any complex coding language or being a developer.
In conclusion, these are a few examples of how any law enforcement agency could use NEM blockchain to improve security, efficiency, and auditability. A system of immutability and transparency can potentially make a big difference in how law enforcement organizations conduct activities, and can instill trust and dependability with the general public. Further, it can do this while reducing waste and streamlining sometimes archaic systems.
The fiscal savings, as well as the recouped man hours from decommissioning obsolete systems and time-wasting paper-based documentation could have any agency operating at a technological capacity far ahead of the rest of the law enforcement industry.