Spend any time in Kansas City’s burgeoning blockchain scene and you’re likely to run into Shekhar Gupta and his wife, Dr. Saroj Gupta.

Shekhar Gupta

The couple has been advocating the use of blockchain technology by local governments throughout the Kansas City area, saying it can better protect sensitive data relating to land titles, tax records, welfare programs and voting.

“The use of blockchain can help everything that government touches,” Shekhar Gupta says. For example, it can detect potential voter fraud because it can reveal if a person is trying to vote using the name of a deceased person or someone who has moved from the area.

The Guptas are local boosters in a global movement to employ the blockchain technology underpinning cryptocurrencies to make government services more efficient, transparent and secure.

The Guptas operate the KC Blockchain Association, a government consulting group that seeks to advise local officials on the benefits of the technology.

Forward-thinking lawmakers and administrators have already begun to explore blockchain’s potential. Berkeley, Calif., is considering the use of blockchain to offer municipal bonds in smaller-than-typical denominations and bypass the typical underwriting process. Colorado just passed a law advising state agencies to look into the potential of digital ledgers for keeping records and securing confidential data, Crypto Briefing reports. And officials in Dubai plan to incorporate blockchain into a data project aimed at ensuring food safety, according to an IBM blog post.

A blockchain is a decentralized, digitized public ledger. Participants add new records, or blocks, to it and record them in chronological order. Each computer connected to a blockchain network receives a copy of the ledger, so all the participants – not just one central authority – can verify the accuracy of an entry.

The Guptas operate the KC Blockchain Association, a government consulting group that seeks to advise local officials on the benefits of the technology. Shekhar Gupta says it has consulted with several governmental entities and that two projects will start this fall, although he can’t identify them because of confidentiality agreements.

Shekhar, who has a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, an MBA and decades of experience in technology and telecommunications, also runs the Blockchain Association of KC, a monthly meetup for government employees and contractors interested in promoting the use of the technology.

His wife, Saroj, is a dentist with experience in geriatrics who also has earned an Executive MBA. In addition to working on the couple’s government consulting, she is the CEO of Asuun, a tracking system for people who are at risk of getting lost because of dementia or other mental incapacities. The system uses blockchain and smartphones to monitor where users are. If they deviate from a planned itinerary, it asks them why, and if they do not respond appropriately, it alerts caregivers. The system has two small business clients for its launch. Asuun plans to switch to wearable devices in a later iteration.

Shekhar’s evangelizing has gained him recognition with some prominent members in the local cryptocurrency and blockchain community. “He is a voice for innovation and leveraging all the benefits of blockchain for a more efficient and effective government,” said Tim Lawrence, an entrepreneur and co-founder of the 700-member Kansas City Bitcoin Club.

Ross Snel contributed to this report.
Terry Wooten
Terry Wooten is a veteran business journalist. He served as an editor for nearly eight years for Dow Jones Newswires. Earlier in his career, he was a bureau chief for UPI. He has supervised coverage of the global commodities markets and covered a range of other topics.