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How Makkah municipality is using blockchain technology

Ahmed Yousif

During Sir Anthony Ritossa’s 13th Global Family Office Investment Summit in Dubai, Founding President of the Association for the BSV blockchain, Jimmy Nguyen moderated a panel discussion on the most significant use cases for blockchain technology in the public sector. 

The panel included Ahmed Yousif, Digital Transformation and Strategy head, Makkah Municipality as well as Middle East Lead of the BSV Blockchain for Government Initiative

In sharing his experience, challenges and successes in digital transformation of the Makkah municipality, Ahmed shared valuable insight for other public sector leaders who are considering adopting blockchain technology.

Makkah municipality’s considerations for blockchain technology

When Ahmed’s team started looking into blockchain tech, it didn’t take them long to recognise the huge impact it could have on their municipality – in the long and short term future. 

The municipality was facing several ‘business’ challenges and started exploring emerging technologies, including AI and machine learning. Blockchain offered real solutions to the problems they faced on a daily basis, so they started building on it to provide better services to their citizens and visitors. 

Piloting a blockchain project in Makkah

Working with a group of consultants, they piloted blockchain for the Hejaz region’s hospitality with around four services and the involvement of a number of government entities. In future, they plan on putting the entire ecosystem of Hejaz’ services onto the blockchain and having all government entities involved in developing the solution.

The team’s primary goal was to deliver value to their region by focusing on applications that gather data that can be transformed to valuable applications. At the same time, they needed a solution that would stand the test of time, instead of applying temporary patches. They found that blockchain was the right choice for solving their problems from the ground up, while putting in place a strong infrastructure that would continue to address their future needs. 

Governance e-services on blockchain

e-Services offer governments a big opportunity to improve their service delivery. The municipality of Makkah went one step further and piloted an e-services programme on blockchain. Their previous system had several shortcomings. For one, its review process was fraud-prone. The biggest hurdle they were facing was bringing efficiency to application processes where different entities – from civil defence, police, local and other local authorities as well as private organisations – each had to participate to successfully issue certificates or permits. Both citizens and visitors suffered from the previous system’s inefficiency. 

Makkah itself has more than two million citizens, but then there are the pilgrims that push the number to more than nine million per year. With the blockchain based e-services Makkah now offers, both the citizens and pilgrims are served efficiently. 

Viewing blockchain as an ecosystem of solutions

 

Blockchain is commonly touted exclusively as a financial application, a misconception that Ahmed is challenging wherever he goes. Rather than using it to address a single problem in the public sector, Ahmed would like to see blockchain utilised as the fabric of the entire ecosystem of public services and government problems. 

One of their studies highlighted a municipality with around 71 different government contracts. Analysing the function, they realised that all of its aspects, from payments to identity, could be actioned via a blockchain smart contract. 

In providing services to pilgrims, the function is not only about approving their visit, but involves a health inspection, their safety and even for waste management to be adjusted according to the number of visitors. Accommodating the contraction and expansion of the city’s pilgrims requires a fast, resilient and smart data-based decision-making process. Ahmed foresees great success for blockchain in such use cases. 

Blockchain for government

If you are interested in exploring blockchain solutions for your government project, we invite you to learn about BSV’s Blockchain for Government Initiative. The initiative provides education and drives global adoption of blockchain technology by government bodies, NGOs and public sector agencies in order to accelerate digital transformation and ignite economic growth.

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