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Maharashtra Gov. uses blockchain to issue COVID test certificates

Maharashtra Disaster Management Department has partnered with a Chennai-based startup Print2Block and also the Polygon Network for the issuance of Covid test certificates on blockchain.

The certificates are issued only to people who test negative for COVID, as shown below

On the left is the Covid test certificate. On the right are blockchain Transaction ID and Hash of the certificate.

The test certificates can be verified by just clicking the verify button on the website against the certificate.

“We have been able to meet the demands of scalability and data security. Out of lakhs of people tested in the state on a daily basis, almost 70-80 percent are tested negative,” Print2Block’s co-founder Joji Varghese told Inc42.

Maharashtra Government’s Covid test certificate blockchain database

The report says that it was believed that the Maharashtra Government was working with a public blockchain. They later clarified that they have deployed a private blockchain.

Elaborating on the previous argument, Varghese added that healthcare data “is very sensitive in nature”. Taking that into account, Print2Block had to build a special private blockchain for this purpose.

Private blockchains require a public blockchain for authentication and validation. Print2block has deployed a private blockchain and has partnered with Mumbai-based blockchain startup Polygon’s Matic Network, a public blockchain, for auditing.

The Government stores the covid test data on the private blockchain. After some blocks, they add the hash of the private blockchain to the public chain, ensuring data privacy. A public network is generally more secure due to decentralization and active participation from the community.

Due to the higher number of nodes in the public network, it is very difficult for ‘malicious actors’ to attack the system and gain control over the consensus network to corrupt the data.

The partnership ensures that from the genesis block to the Nth block data integrity remains intact.

“Now, it is the Government who owns and controls the data, hardware and everything,” as reported by Inc42.

The name of the service platform used is Docchain.io, for issuing documents using blockchain.

This is not the first stint of the Maharashtra Government with the Chennai-based company.

In 2019, Print2Block had reportedly won the Maharashtra Startup Startup week (conducted by the Maharashtra Innovation society) in eGovernance and bagged INR 15 Lakhs worth LOI (letter of intent) to work on an eGov-related blockchain project, as mentioned in the Inc42 report.

Other uses of blockchain by governments

For the past 2 years, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited have also been using the startup’s solutions, mentioned in the report.

Indian establishment is now leveraging the power of blockchain. Delhi’s NDMC and Tamil Nadu Government have also floated tenders for blockchain-based projects in the past.

As Governments are realizing the power of and using blockchain technology, they may bring some laws to regulate digital currencies. Regulation will give a boost to the private sector and create healthy competition leading to more innovation.

A blockchain run by a private company requires an incentive-based model to keep the network alive. Without a proper framework, it may always remain cautious in its decision to make sure no contravention of laws happens.

Countries like El Salvador and Germany have begun their experiments with Digital Currencies in their own different ways.

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