Well Done, British Columbia … Where Innovation Thrives

I live in a country where my digital engagement with government is almost zero. I have virtually no properly digital engagement with the NHS. I have virtually no meaningful engagement with my local council. Why? Because we have vastly under funding the re-building and re-mapping of government services, and where there are few people around who are willing to define an Estonian X-Road. We have too many pilots (small-scale trial systems and pin-point bits of innovation), and not enough focus on building scalable architectures.

I also live in a country where large and faceless countries are given large government contracts, and who have failed to deliver on true transformation. Large companies often have no motivation to truly change things, and will typically peddle the same old tech that they have done for years.

But there are some countries who are changing their ways of working, and breaking down barriers. Finland is a great example of changing its governance, and increasing focused on properly digitizing health and care services. But they have had a digital ID system since the 1960s. In my country, I have an ID that different parts of government know me by.

And so, British Columbia are showing great vision in transforming at scale, and using cryptography to build new (and more trusted) ecosystems for business. Why can’t a company register digitally with its own ID (and signing key), and then others can prove that they are register? British Columbia thus want to give rid of red tape, and make things easier for small businesses. Why do we still push bits of paper around?

The work has been created by Verifiable Organizations Network (VON), and which involves the governments of British Columbia, Ontario, and Canada. Their goal is to focus on reducing red tape for an open-source framework, and look to contribute to Hyperledger Indy. The result is Orgbook BC,and which has 529,000 digital IDs for companies and 1.4 million credentials, and where there are likely cost savings of over $10 billion a year in unnecessary red
tape.

In Canada there are at least three different tax numbers (SIN, GST/HST and CRA BN) — for local, provincial and federal — and this new project brings these together into a single entity, and thus simplifying the process. When government is looking for a new business, they can simply turn to the Orgbook BC, and where small businesses have as much opportunity to be found than large companies.

Conclusions

Go on British Columbia … great work. In a decade, perhaps my country will catch-up, but just now, I’m just off to read the only letters I get through the post … from the NHS. Your country needs people with vision and how refuse to stick with the status quo, and who can architecture things at scale, and not boundary spanners and individual innovators: