Blockchain BetaLab Findings
In October 2018 Access Ventures hosted a design sprint in conjunction with the ConsenSys Social Impact team to explore how blockchain technology might apply to issues concerning substance abuse. As facilitators, it was our aim to identify a problem within this domain that multiple parties were aligned to tackle.
Access Ventures felt that our team was uniquely positioned to convene this discussion due to our established body of work throughout the community and involvement with emerging technologies. Historically we have collaborated with others towards the renovation and revitalization of neighborhoods, open access to capital for small businesses, fostering community within the arts, and most recently addressing the ancillary costs of housing through our Reconstruct Challenge. Access also believes in the future of blockchain technology as a conduit for inclusive business models and wide-scale data sharing.
Joining Access Ventures was the ConsenSys Social Impact team equipped with expert knowledge in blockchain knowledge and a history of civic-minded consultancy. Local domain expertise was provided by the following offices and organization: the Metro Louisville Office of Performance Improvement and Innovation, Office of Public Health and Wellness, and the Department of Corrections, The Healing Place, Metro United Way, Recenter Mission, Interapt, and Brown-Forman.
There were three primary goals in mind going into the sprint:
– To provide blockchain education for community stakeholders.
– To understand issues facing organizations involved with substance abuse and recovery.
– To jointly identify use cases for future development.
After spending two days with members of the community we discovered that the inefficient coordination of information between stakeholder organizations creates unnecessary obstacles to those individuals seeking recovery. An example of an obstacle for people dealing with substance abuse is the lack of follow up opportunities between the Department of Corrections and service providers available upon the individual’s release from jail where they were able to stop the cycle of abuse. The Department of Corrections believes that it may lower rates of recidivism if the link between organizations were stronger.
As a collaborative exercise, the design sprint was able to bring multiple vantage points together and proposed potential solutions to a shared problem. While a solution ultimately was not implemented, we would like to share what we learned from this experience:
Bottom line…There is a potential application of blockchain for a solution that fits the use case, but dedicated blockchain education is critical to the adoption of any solution proposed.
We discovered that a distributed ledger can be used to mitigate some of the data sharing problems that occur in a complex ecosystem of service providers. However for the cooperation required to successfully implement a solution all stakeholders must have a stronger understanding of the technology powering the platform. Blockchain technology remains a growing field and is often misunderstood.
An application would require a collective impact model with key stakeholders to work effectively.
Because various stakeholders can support a project with different impact goals in mind it is imperative to define collective impact goals. The process of defining collective impact goals includes the establishment of a common agenda, communication protocols, the coordination of efforts, and shared measurement targets.
A successful mix of stakeholders must include: Service Providers, Civic Advocates, Capital Providers, and Technologists.
Each of the mentioned groups contributes value and expertise needed to create a functional shared data solution. Service providers offer on-the-ground institutional knowledge. Civic advocates supply convening power and ecosystem-wide perspective. Capital partners take the financial risk in developing a solution. Technologists bring the expertise necessary to bring it all together in a product.
An organization must take a lead role in the process of the development, training, and deployment of a technology solution.
While Access Ventures sponsored the design sprint and is invested in the implementation of solutions, we are not necessarily best positioned to lead the effort moving forward. We believe that an organization on the front lines of recovery efforts would architect a more effective and inclusive solution. This responsibility carries the key decision of selecting a qualified technology partner and ongoing management of the process and stakeholders.
With these learnings in mind, we believe it’s possible for any community to leverage institutional knowledge across aligned organizations and develop a winning solution to it’s most complex and systemic problems.