The Canton of Jura wants to tackle the digital divide by making public services more easily accessible online. On the technical side, blockchain infrastructure should help to digitize processes and to make them more secure.

The Canton of Jura plans to implement a blockchain-based solution in the second half of 2021. It is based on the KSI blockchain developed and used by Estonia and the CERTUS technology developed by project partner Sicpa. According to a whitepaper, the Canton hopes to strengthen the population’s trust in the administration’s online services.

After a successful pilot project, the Canton has given the green light to the project. The Estonian-style solution will be a central element of the state’s information system and will also track internal administrative processes.

Digital download receipt and certification of documents

The blockchain system supports two mechanisms: The first is a timestamp function that certifies the upload of a document to the Canton’s virtual counter. After the document is uploaded, a digital hash is sent to the local blockchain server, returning the KSI signature with a timestamp. Once downloaded, this signature is valid as proof of the document’s integrity, the exact date of the download, and the signature’s issuer. Residents, as well as the government, can use the receipts to control document traffic.

The second mechanism makes it possible to certify the information in a document and relies on Sicpa’s online service CERTUS. The administration could, for example, verify whether a certificate from the debt collection register is correct. A QR code on the document should contain all the important information, such as the date and credit rating in the case of a certificate from the debtors’ register. People or organizations can scan this QR code with an app and read and check the information it contains. The QR code is secured on a link in the KSI blockchain. Thus, the user can check the code for validity and who issued it.

Data protection and energy consumption

Canton Jura emphasizes in the whitepaper that the KSI blockchain infrastructure is built on existing infrastructures rather than an energy-intensive proof-of-work-type consensus algorithm. That seems crucial considering the ongoing debate about the energy consumption of blockchain networks. Whether this criticism is factually correct or not, it has recently attracted a lot of negative publicity, especially concerning cryptocurrencies.

The data does also not leave the Canton’s servers. Finally, the Canton of Jura plans to organize workshops on “digital trust” to bring the technology closer to the population. Incidentally, the Canton of Zurich published a blockchain guide for public authorities and agencies in March. This should help to evaluate use cases as well as offers from blockchain service providers.

Image: © Shutterstock