Austin test uses blockchain to provide homeless with digital IDs

The city of Austin, Texas, is testing blockchain technology as a potential solution to homeless identification problems. Though blockchain is best known in association with cryptocurrency, we've seen various companies launch blockchain-based services including image rights platforms. Over past months, many groups and companies have presented concepts that use blockchain for digital IDs and identity management, as well.

Homeless individuals face issues getting services, housing help, and more if their identification is lost. Many of these individuals, however, no longer have access to their government-issued ID and no simple way of getting a new copy. That's a problem for cities throughout the country, and Austin is no exception.

The Texas city is exploring the use of blockchain as an ID management platform for the homeless using a grant awarded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, it has been announced. More than 7,000 people in Austin are homeless and experience delays or troubles getting social help due to ID issues, according to Bloomberg.

The test will involve using blockchain to create a "unique identifier" for homeless individuals. With this identifier, they will have access to their own personal records whenever they'd like, and the identifier will be useable for getting access to services and other necessary help. The project will run for the next four years.

Unlike paper records and plastic cards, a blockchain identifier can't be misplaced or destroyed. The technology could also open the door for faster and more efficient medical services; medical records can be attached to the identifier, enabling a homeless individual to get proper care for their conditions in the absence of physical records.

SOURCE: Bloomberg