Dr Jane Thomason is an experienced CEO and thought leader in the applications of blockchain technology for social impact and is a Global Ambassador and Advisory Board member of the British Blockchain Association.

It has long been an ambition of mine to get the women’s and children’s health crowd talking to the blockchain crowd!

All power to Canada’s #IDRC for making it possible. Kyle Kemper and I facilitated two Blockchain and CRVS labs in Ottawa this week at the Global Meeting on “Harnessing the Power: CRVS systems for 2030 Global Health Agendas.” For the uninitiated CRVS stands for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics. Central to which is identity – an obvious Blockchain use case.

Kyle and I ran 2 sessions exploring how blockchain can be deployed for CRVS and women’s and children’s health and discussing adoption issues, and how risks and barriers can be clarified and managed.

For many participants, Blockchain was totally new, which underscores how central education is.

Much of the sessions were spent talking about basic concepts and clarifying misunderstandings.

Where did we end up? It reinforced my view that we need to connect the tech community and the international development community and bridge their worlds!

I think most people left with cautious optimism about the technology and its potential. Clearly more information and education is needed and such groups will be more persuaded by formal research and evaluation, looking at risks and compliance and system integration issues. Countries clearly need help in understanding how it may solve key problems. Anir Chowdury from Bangladesh was quick to see how it could help Bangladesh.

The Labs made a number of recommendations on next steps and these will come out in the Conference Report.

Hats off to IDRC and Montasser Kamal for giving the airtime to have the discussions. Hats off also to other Canada Blockchain experts who gave freely of their time to act as resource people.

Baby steps – but I hope that people went away curious and thoughtful and understanding that it would be better to help shape the technology so that it realises it’s transformational potential than to stand back and heckle from the sidelines.