Illinois Launches Blockchain Pilot to Digitize Birth Certificates

Illinois' state government has launched a new blockchain pilot focused on the digitization of new birth certificates.

Aug 31, 2017 at 10:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:53 a.m. UTC

The state of Illinois has begun work on a new blockchain pilot focused on the digitization of birth certificates.

Working with blockchain identity startup Evernym, the tools being designed would, if put into production, allow parents and doctors present at the time of birth to officially log the birth on a permissioned blockchain.

But the project, which forms part of the state's broader blockchain efforts, is about more than just birth certificates.

According to Jennifer O'Rourke, who serves as Illinois' blockchain business liaison, the platform being designed could ultimately lead to a broader identity tool-set that a person can use over the years.

O'Rourke told CoinDesk:

"In this pilot, businesses and governments would be able to verify and authenticate a citizen’s identity by requesting encrypted access to verifiable claims."

Within the proposed framework, existing government agencies would be able to verify a person's registration information at birth, then cryptographically sign data related to a person's name, date of birth, blood type, and other details.

That information is expected to be stored on a tamper-proof distributed ledger that would only be accessible with consent from a legal guardian – up until the age that the person becomes a legal adult.

At this early stage in the pilot development, efforts are being focused on creating a user interface that parents and doctors can use to digitize the birth certificate, as well as enabling other back-office processes that come into place.

The tools being developed build on work done by a task force within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), according to a statement.

O'Rourke expects the pilot to be completed in "the near term," with a formal announcement scheduled to be made next month at the MyData2017 Conference in Helsinki, Finland.

“We’re going to start with that child, then we want to make sure that we capture that information for the parent, and also for the doctor as well,” said O’Rourke, explaining what she believes is the end-value of moving the data to a blockchain:

"Those input points should not be static or paper-based."

Newborn image via Shutterstock

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