• Public IT service providers aim to develop new technologies such as blockchain and digital public services through public IT infrastructures
  • Step toward more digital sovereignty

Berlin, December 12, 2019. Today, ten consortium partners sealed the launch of the new blockchain cooperative "govdigital" in Berlin. With this step, the public IT service providers want to advance blockchain and other new technologies for the public sector and create a nationwide network infrastructure for applications.

One focus will foreseeably be on exploring the potential of blockchain or "distributed ledger technology" for the collaboration of administrative and identification processes. The aim is to ensure secure and binding nationwide communication in the sense of digital services of general interest for public administrations and other public institutions. The aim is to provide and operate the necessary infrastructure such as servers and databases in certified data centers. Based on this infrastructure, municipal as well as state and federal authorities can develop and offer applications for the public sector.

"Together, we are picking up on the innovation momentum of blockchain and want to make it accessible to our administrations," explains Dieter Rehfeld, Chairman of the govdigital Supervisory Board and CEO of founding member regio iT GmbH. "This is an important contribution to the next stage of digitization of the public sector, which will also make it more attractive for startups."

The fact that the new cooperative has come at the right time is demonstrated not only by initial funding programs in states such as North Rhine-Westphalia. With its recently adopted "Blockchain Strategy," the German government also wants to explicitly promote digitized administrative services and acknowledged the first municipal approaches to technology development.

"Artificial intelligence and blockchain are important technologies for a modern, service-oriented public administration," underlines Thomas Jarzombek, the Federal Ministry of Economics' Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Startups. "For services from public agencies, we need a secure, trustworthy and high-performance infrastructure. The govdigital initiative brings together many relevant stakeholders from states and municipalities to enable administrative services based on blockchain or AI," Jarzombek said. "I am happy about the establishment of the cooperative and also about the interest in the European blockchain services infrastructure. Govdigital can make significant contributions to a digital awakening."

In the future, applications will enable public institutions to provide proof of authenticity, certification and billing more easily and cost-effectively. Practical examples include the validation of certificates and driver's licenses, neighborhood electricity contracts, and legally compliant proof of waste disposal routes. To this end, the cooperative is geared toward providing various services. These can be "Blockchain as a Service" (BaaS), as well as the execution of transactions (validation) or the use of the blockchain infrastructure "Blockchain Infrastructure as a Service" (BIaaS) for the operation of apps.

"The potentials have been recognized," emphasizes Rudolf Schleyer, govdigital board member and CEO of founding member AKDB. "Now it is a matter of meaningfully networking all these projects with their players. Only together and in exchange will we succeed in creating benefits with the possibilities of blockchain."

"Driving innovation and strengthening digital sovereignty in the process is a major concern for us. In this respect, it was out of the question for us to participate as a founding member," says Governikus Managing Director Dr. Stephan Klein on the founding of the govdigital cooperative.

The cooperative model seems tailor-made for this purpose; it is public and community-based: The members meet at eye level, and at the same time interested parties can join at any time - with comparably low bureaucratic and financial effort. The founding members are AKDB, Bundesdruckerei, Dataport, ekom21, Governikus, KDO, Stadt Köln, krz Lemgo, regio iT and SIT.

"Blockchain stands for decentralization and participation, which is what distinguishes this technology. It allows us to expand participation, sovereignty and common ground. And we also want to tie in with this in a figurative sense," explains Matthias Kammer. The govdigital managing director and former CEO of Dataport is impressed by the great interest in the cooperative throughout Germany and is sure that other partners will soon join.

But it is by no means just about blockchain. The approach is broader and open to new technologies. "I am convinced that digitization, and artificial intelligence in particular, will change the public sector even more," says Torsten Koß, member of the govdigital board of directors and of founding member Dataport AöR. "Our opportunity today is that we can shape these changes together. If we don't, digitization will shape us."

govdigital is based in Berlin and moves into premises at the Vitako office in Berlin-Mitte.Vitako - the Federal Working Group of Municipal IT Service Providers - accompanied the founding processg and will continue to be associated with the new cooperative in the future.

Further photo material and information at: www.govdigital.de

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