Electronic Record Certification with Blockchain Technology

by Washoe County, NV for the TLG 2019 Innovation Showcase program

Dec 19, 2018

Theme: Reality Focused, Results Driven

Washoe County, which includes Reno, NV, remains one of the country's top wedding destinations.

The Washoe County Recorder plays an important role in this process by issuing certified proof of marriage after the ceremony has taken place. This record is used for vital processes such as traveling, applying for benefits, and obtaining government-issued identification.  In many states, it isn't uncommon for it to take over a month from the time someone requests proof of marriage to the time they receive it. This posed a major issue to customers who needed their certificate much sooner. For example, we sometimes receive calls from someone standing on a dock unable to board their cruise ship because they just realized they're without proper documentation.  This pushed us to look for new, secure, and innovative ways to provide instant service to those in need. 

As we explored new technologies that might allow us to expedite the process, we approached a local startup with the idea of utilizing blockchain technology to electronically certify documents as opposed to mailing embossed paper certificates. Using the Ethereum blockchain to securely store data in a public database, we can certify that electronic documents have not been changed after they left our office, a feature that wasn’t possible with the traditional paper certificates. 

Not only did this provide a way of issuing a more secure and verifiable record, but also allowed us the ability to instantly issue through email certified proof of marriage to someone anywhere in the world within minutes of their request.  This ability can make the difference between whether or not someone goes on their honeymoon or meets a deadline to apply for survivor benefits.

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