It may seem like an independent technology, but blockchain is in fact an organic combination of a series of mature technologies with multi-party writing, joint maintenance, ledger sharing, decentralization, and anti-tampering features. Distributed accounting — a concept introduced by blockchain — serves electronic cash transactions, or in a broader sense, processes value transfers. Theoretically, blockchain technologies can be used to record and track the ownership and circulation of various tangible and intangible assets, and complete point-to-point value exchange.
The Beijing government initiated the collection of government service data through aerial photography in 2001, launched the government department directory in 2005, and established the municipal/district data sharing and switching system in 2016. Then, in 2017, it released the Beijing Government Service Data Resource Management Regulations (Provisional), before aggregating two batches of government service data (with 13 themes) through the big data action plan in 2018, and in 2019, began construction of level-3 directories. Beijing undoubtedly leads the exploration of government service data application in China.
New Challenges Posed by the Increasing Number of Government Service Information Resources
With the rapid development of new technologies — such as cloud computing, big data, and blockchain — the focus of government informatization has shifted, from applying government service information, to improving the management of the information itself. Key management approaches now include optimizing government service processes, promoting the sharing and switching of government service data, and mining, analyzing, and visualizing government service data. However, the emergence of a huge quantity of government service information has created new challenges in terms of managing the data. The first challenge concerns resolving the issues of insufficient coverage and untimely updates of the resource directory. Meanwhile, the second focuses on how to link the resource directory with department data in real time. A third challenge then focuses on how to support the data sharing mechanism and ensure the desired quality of shared data. Tackling these issues has become the key to optimizing government service resource management.
Back in 2006, Beijing had already built a municipal/district sharing and switching platform — which covered all 16 districts and 69 municipal departments — interconnecting this platform with the national sharing and switching platform. However, the platform only functioned as a switching channel and did not store data. Moreover, data switching and the directory were disconnected, and only limited data was shared and exchanged. To solve these problems, the Beijing Party Committee and municipal government released a series of policies, including the Beijing Big Data and Cloud Computing Development Action Plan (2016–2020), and the Beijing Government Service Information Resource Management Measures (Provisional), initiating the construction of level-3 directories in 2019.
The Huawei Epoint Directory Chain Co-Innovation Solution
The Huawei-Epoint Directory Chain Co-Innovation Solution is based on Huawei BCS; it is open, easy to use, flexible, efficient, cost-effective, and secure. The solution designs an overall plan for managing resource directory data based on customer requirements, and creates accounts personalized for them. In this instance, it has also organized an alliance directory chain that is co-managed by the Office of the Organizational Setup Committee, the Beijing Municipal Finance Bureau, and the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology. Any changes to key services must be reviewed by these three parties. Departments, offices, and bureaus can be invited to join the directory chain and access it by deploying front-end processors. The mapping from the database tables to the directory chain is executed based on the unified rules of the resource directory.
Epoint provides the upper-layer applications of the blockchain directory system. The reconstruction of the resource directory management system is completed using Epoint’s extensive experience working with government big data and Huawei’s cloud blockchain technology platform. Problems such as an incomplete directory, inconsistency between directory and data, random directory changes, indiscreet authorization, and untimely data updates are tackled as a priority. In the meantime, the solution further improves the smart contract system and the probe system, making the directory more visible, reliable, available, and assessable. It achieves a close association between data and responsibility, preventing tampering by locking the link between the responsibility directory and data directory. The solution also implements multi-party service negotiation based on consensus and the smart contract system, using the Huawei cloud blockchain technology platform as the unified data access entrance. In addition, a data probe is used to monitor data changes in real time, ensuring the consistency between data and the directory.
As the underlying technology, the Huawei cloud blockchain platform introduces blockchain technologies to solve issues in the traditional sharing and switching mode, including the risk of data tampering, untimely data updates, and the difficulty of assuring data validity. Moreover, the platform adopts innovative technologies — such as a layered architecture, optimized consensus algorithm, container, microservice architecture, and scalable distributed cloud storage — to address the prominent issues of the directory system surrounding system performance, function completeness, system scalability, and ease of use. In terms of security, HUAWEI CLOUD Security provides support for the nodes, account books, smart contracts, and upper-layer applications of the blockchain.
Application Results of Blockchain Technologies in the Government Service Information Resource Directory System
The co-innovation solution satisfies the requirements of distributed management, unified view, non-tampering, and dynamic authorization and control of the resource (responsibility) directory, as well as supporting future scalability.
Beijing has completed the responsibility directory reviews of 31 municipal departments, issued the Beijing Directory Chain Management Regulations (Provisional) to all district and municipal departments, and ‘linked up’ and assigned codes to the reviewed responsibility directories of 31 municipal departments. Meanwhile, Beijing has initialized the information systems and data directories of each department and district on the chain.
The co-innovation solution supports the Beijing government service resource information directories in three ways:
• Full coverage and timely update of government service resource information directories. After blockchain technologies are introduced, departments organize data resources based on their responsibilities, in preparation for sharing. They then record the information resource directories of shared data on the shared account book of the blockchain. As a node of the blockchain alliance, each department stores the shared information resource directories of all departments as well as the release and change records. Any record of change can be tracked according to audit requirements.
• Close association between government service resource information directories and government service data. The introduction of the blockchain helps reconstruct the shared information resource directories of government departments and builds blockchain-based trustworthy data sharing networks within government. This network is the foundation for building a flat sharing and switching mechanism according to the requirements of each department. The shared and switched data of various departments and the information resource directories form two interconnected blockchain alliance chains, meeting the requirement for secure cross-department data sharing.
• Improved data sharing mechanism and increasingly high quality government service data. The policy of a shared account book, alongside multi-party endorsement of blockchain, can prevent data providers from altering data without authorization. Moreover, data on blockchain nodes includes all records of historical releases and changes, enabling historical records to be tracked based on time stamps.
Epoint and Huawei’s cooperation in the Beijing Government Service Resource Directory Chain Solution is an example of deep convergence between new ICT and government services, boosting both parties’ innovation capabilities and service quality. In the future, Epoint and Huawei will focus on customer requirement changes, service development needs, and the latest technological trends, to further integrate resources and continuously optimize the joint solution — creating a better overall customer experience.