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Irish government hosts hackathon

Tony Zerucha

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Blockathon Ireland, a hackathon hosted by The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in association with The Department of Finance, aims to identify and analyze potential real-life use-cases of distributed ledger technology, namely blockchain, in public services.

The hackathon will see potential business problems provided in advance to technical teams, ranging from medical device tracking in the HSE, to verifying CSO data and tracking State Aid for Enterprise Ireland. The teams will brainstorm blockchain-based solutions while vying for a portion of the €8,500 prize fund, awarded to the best outcomes. Solutions will be judged on four main criteria: innovation, relevance, solution, and proof-of-concept.

The goal of the event is to develop a deeper understanding of what potential blockchain technology has to be utilized in public services to improve current processes, development, citizen user experience, efficiency and more. Expert stakeholders have been sourced from the growing blockchain community in Ireland to judge and mentor the participating teams, in order to promote cross-functional collaboration between government, academia, and the private sector.

“Blockchain technologies have proposed new economic, business, social and technological models that have the potential to significantly impact business and society,” Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, said. “As part of Our Public Service 2020, our Government has pledged to drive innovation in policy design and service delivery, as well as promote a culture of innovation across our public service.

“We believe this can partially be achieved through the use of novel and alternative mechanisms, new platforms and unusual channels. Consulting and engaging experts on innovation from across the public sector, academia and the private sector to share ideas is a valuable action under the strategy, and this hackathon offers an opportunity to do so.’

This event follows the work undertaken by the intradepartmental working group on blockchain and virtual currencies launched by Minister Donohoe in March 2018. Hosted in The Innovation Academy, 3 Foster Place, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, more than 10 technical teams will take part in the hackathon. Kicking off the event, a welcome drinks reception will take place on Friday, Jan. 25, followed by the hackathon on Saturday. Concluding on the Sunday, the teams will present their solutions, followed by an awards ceremony.

“A joint effort by both Departments and representative of the ambition of the Government as a whole, Blockathon Ireland offers a unique opportunity to explore the potential for blockchain,” Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, Patrick O’Donovan TD said. “Minister Donohoe and I welcome the opportunity to offer a platform for constructive collaboration with the aim of exploring the capabilities of disruptive technologies in public services.”

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha is an alternative finance journalist with more than seven years experience in the space. The author of more than 1,000 articles, Tony was named LendIt's 2018 Journalist of the Year.

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