Ensuring Trust in Government Services

One of the most impressive developments this week is the launch of the Government-backed Dubai Blockchain Platform.  It is a significant step forward in the digital reinvention of Government to deliver services that are citizen-centric.  Reimagining business processes to be cross-agency demands trust to build and sustain public confidence.  The first application to use the platform is Dubai’s Payments Settlement and Reconciliation System.  It eliminates friction from financial process, reducing the time taken to settle payments between entities from 45 days to near instantaneous.

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I presented on blockchain to over a hundred delegates at digitech18 in Leeds this week.  Blockchain offers opportunities to overcome the inefficiencies that arises when information crosses organizational boundaries.  Processes that span multiple agencies throw up variations in reporting and costly, slow reconciliation because each has its own system of record.  Typically, there is a proliferation of documents, and agencies revert back to these when disputes arise.


A single, shared system of record reduces friction and disputes


There is a single, shared system of record for all agencies when using blockchain.  All have the same view of what has been agreed, and disputes don’t arise because all have agreed consensus: what constitutes a valid transaction.  Only agreed transactions are posted and changes are tamper-proof.  Therefore, records in the blockchain are trusted as the truth and the cost and inertia of reverting to paper records is removed.

Simply underpinning today’s processes with blockchain will not realise the benefits.  Governments need to rethink how they can revolutionise service delivery end-to-end, across Government and beyond.  The expectations that citizens now have in a world where commercial organisations have reinvented industries using digital platforms is now being demanded of Government.


Enabling greater trust in Government


I highlighted two examples of blockchain in Leeds:

  • TradeLens is an open, neutral supply chain platform. It reduces international shipping barriers by overcoming the burden of paper-based processes, data trapped in organizational siloes, disparate perspectives on transaction states, and risk of fraud.  Governments can benefits from using the platform at borders and customs to reduce friction and gain greater visibility of the supply chain which can help target inspections.
  • IBM Food Trust is a platform that helps to build and sustain confidence in food, addressing provenance concerns by recording a complete history. One benefit is that stakeholders, such as supermarkets, are able to identify the exact food packages that should be removed from shelves in the event of a safety issue within minutes rather than days, or even weeks.

There are many other instances where Government can benefit from blockchain including the justice system, sovereign identity, and licensing.


Hyperledger Fabric: ready for Government


Blockchain is about enabling trust in an ecosystem through open governance.  In the same vein, IBM gave its blockchain platform code to the Linux Foundation and the Hyperledger Fabric was formed.  It is open source software with open management and governance, and no private control.  Furthermore, IBM took the view that a permissioned approach to blockchain where the participants are known and access control is intrinsic is the right one for business and Government.

In my blog post last week in the run up to digitech18, I described how a managed implementation of the Hyperledger Fabric is ready to use on the IBM Cloud.  It has enabled the Food Standards Agency to get up and running with its first iteration in three weeks, and gain the benefits of richer information to target an inspection on a suspected outbreak of liver fluke identified at an abattoir in the first week of operation.


Start with opportunities that benefit an ecosystem, not the technology


I closed my talk with three points:

  • The business of Government is no longer centralized but devolved. Ecosystems are now delivering services rather than being limited to processes of a department.  Each participant in the ecosystem has interests and benefits that can come together to make a case for blockchain.
  • Data sharing standards enable rapid implementation of blockchain. Government should lead the way and set the rule to facilitate adoption.
  • Governments should take a citizen-centric approach, and blockchain helps reduce the inertia of sharing information between parties.

Blockchain offers participants in ecosystems indelible, searchable and current views of records, with transaction visibility and transparency.  These are technology enablers of trust across the ecosystem.

You can start here today!

Wimbledon technology impressions

The dominant impression left with those taking IBM’s technology tour at Wimbledon this week is how artificial intelligence is used to enhance fans’ experiences of The Championships through automation and scale.  The magnitude of what it takes to amplify match data and content out to millions of fans is always a revelation.  This spans drawing fans to Wimbledon’s own digital platforms, supporting its media partners, through to providing a valuable service to the players.

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AI and Augmented Reality

The Championships Poster for 2018 applies artificial intelligence (AI) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.  AI is used not only to select 8,400 photographs that make up the mosaic from the archive of over 300,000, but also to match the colour, tone and content of the picture used in each tile to the part of the picture it represents.  The reaction when I enlarge a section of the mosaic, such as the umbrellas by the umpire’s chair which is made of photographs of umbrellas, is amazement.IMG_0066

IMG_1181There are various pictures displayed around the grounds when visitors can experience augmented reality (AR), including the mosaic poster.  Their locations are indicated on the map in the mobile app.  I show how you can tap on the ‘AR Experience’ tile in the app.  The camera recognises the picture, and in the case of the poster, the app launches the video showing how it was made.

You can experience augmented reality for yourself using Wimbledon’s phone app by pointing the camera at the poster on wimbledon.com.

Trusted data

Wimbledon Interactive is a system running on 400 press desks at The Championships that contains 2 million pages of data.  It is only available on site, and I explore the wealth of data of current matches and Wimbledon’s history all the way back to 1877 on my tours.  Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 08.10.24IBM employs tennis players to read matches and record the data associated with every point accurately within a second.  This trust in data is essential for amplification out to fans on Wimbledon’s own digital platforms and by the world’s media.

Players from the six show courts receive point-by-point video analysis about twenty minutes after the match completes to help them prepare for the next round.  This is always a highlight on my tours.  In addition, IBM has a data science team on site to assist Wimbledon and the media with access the best possible information, including bespoke reports for any angle a journalist might want to investigate.

One example of how data is made available to fans is the tactical Keys to the Match delivered in the IBM SlamTracker on wimbledon.com.  They are the top three areas that each player in a match should focus on to maximise their chances of winning.  Keys are custom generated from analysis of individual player data, including the 4.8 million tennis data points collected at last year’s Championships.  Analytics have been further honed using ball placement and player movement insights.  Fans are able to monitor players’ performance against their keys as the matches unfolds.

Brand quality

IBM uses artificial intelligence to automatically generate a video highlights package within five minutes of a match finishing.  Clients are amazed that the speed.  Video analysis of player gestures and detection of their emotions is combined with audio Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 08.07.59analysis of the crowd’s reaction, e.g. clapping and cheering, plus analytical insight from the data collected.  The points with the highest excitement score are assembled, along with captions generated from meta data that tell the story of the match, for Wimbledon to share with fans on social media and its digital platforms.

Wimbledon has become the host broadcaster of The Championships this year with the launch of Wimbledon Broadcast Services.  It is indicative of Wimbledon’s shift to become more of a data-driven media organisation rather than simply global sporting event – this digital transformation is food for thought for those joining my tours.  Despite this approach, Wimbledon is permitted one hour of tennis action coverage from each day so as to not undermine its media partners.  The digital team uses the excitement level calculated from analysis and AI to quickly search for the points of greatest interest.  This enables the team to optimise this hour to maximise fan engagement by easily identifying and sharing the moments that matter most.

Taking Wimbledon to its fans

IMG_1196Wimbledon aims to be where its fans are.  In 2018, it is widening its appeal to those that use messaging.  The Wimbledon messenger can be accessed from within Facebook Messenger to provide up to date scores on matches, monitor the progress of your favourite players, and access news.  It also provides assistance to all fans in natural language using an AI chatbot building on the ‘Fred’ in-app service that was introduced last year.

You can access the latest information from within Messenger by searching for Wimbledon on Facebook.

I found that all the clients that I took on tours this week, technical or not, are impressed with the scale, reach and focus of the Wimbledon’s digital operation.  Find out more about the technology at ibm.com/wimbledon.