Austin testing blockchain to help homeless access important documents

Austin

This week marks a major step in a pilot program being tested to help the homeless population keep up with important documents that can lead to easier access to medical care and other vital services.

The MyPass Initiative, which is a partnership between the city of Austin, Austin-Travis County EMS and Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, will be completely optional and utilize blockchain technology.

It will allow users to store information like identification cards, social security numbers and medical history all in one digital place, so when they show up to receive various services the information is easily accessible.

Those who work with the local homeless population say it’s common for important documents to be lost and stolen.

“Most patients actually assume that I can just look up their information,” said Dr. Tim Mercer with Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. 

Not so when patients come from other cities and clinics. He’s been treating patients at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless for the last seven months and is excited his patients could have an option to store vital information in one digital spot.

“Not having those documents means you’ve got extra days on the street or in a shelter,” said Kerry O’Connor, Austin’s chief innovation officer.

The project, which is just an experiment right now, is part of Austin’s entry into Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge.

Austin is among 35 “Champion Cities” to receive a $100,000 grant to build a pilot they deem important to their population. The grand prize winner of the competition will be awarded $5 million in October, with four additional cities earning another $1 million each to further develop and implement a sustainable, scalable solution.

The city of Austin will start educating the homeless population about the program at a Pop-up Resource Clinic on Thursday. They will be testing the program through July.

What is this blockchain technology? It’s a distributed, transactional log. Many people can input entries into a record of information. Companies can use it for a variety of actions such as money transactions and anti-virus. For example, with bitcoin, it’s used as a record of all transactions. According to Coindesk.com, the technology can be applied to any need for a trustworthy system of record.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Austin-Travis County

More Austin-Travis County News

Trending Stories

Don't Miss