Blockchain and County Recording

June 07, 2021 by Mashal Babak

Blockchain and County Recording

More than two decades ago, eRecording came on the scene in county recording offices around the country. This functionality allowed individuals to send documents to recording offices electronically, eliminating in-person visits and a cumbersome paper process.

It’s safe to say the idea caught on. Today, 87.3% of the U.S. population now lives in a jurisdiction that offers eRecording, according to the Property Records Industry Association. While there is still the remaining 12.7% to bring on board, even newer technologies are emerging that could be just as impactful to the recording process. Once such technology is blockchain.

Blockchain 101

In essence, blockchain is a digital, decentralized database or ledger that stores data as blocks. Without getting too technical, blocks are formed and encrypted using a string of mathematical algorithms, also referred to as hashes. These blocks form chains as new data is added. This happens because each block of data has its own unique hash that references the previous block’s hash, forming the chain. The data in the blockchain is secure and immutable, meaning that it cannot be changed once created. In fact, it is very hard, if not impossible, for bad actors to tamper with the data.

Why does blockchain matter? Having a decentralized ledger in place increases transparency and trust in data, as all relevant stakeholders can see and validate the information. Blockchain also eliminates human error by automating processes. Automation further reduces costs associated with paper and manual processes while increasing efficiencies through easy data access.

Blockchain and Recording

It’s common to hear about blockchain in conversations around cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but for local government practitioners as well as county residents, it might offer surprising benefits. Think about the certified copy process today. If a resident wants a certified copy of a record, she submits the request to the recording office either in person or through a self-service website. The recording office then processes the request, prints the certified copy, then stamps and addresses an envelope to send it via U.S. mail. This entire string of events can take days or weeks, depending on office size and workload. Significant time and money resources are involved.

With blockchain, however, the same requestor could receive a certified copy back as a PDF via email in a matter of minutes. In terms of security, the document’s image includes a unique hash that can be matched to the official record in the blockchain ledger. With an API linking the citizen-facing self-service site to the blockchain, the request is entirely digital and automated. Not only does this significantly enhance customer service, it frees up recording staff time to work on higher-level strategic priorities. It also eliminates the need for paper, stamps, and envelopes, saving scarce budget dollars.

Tyler Technologies recently worked with the Riverside County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder to put together a proof of concept to demonstrate this process in real life. We look forward to working with other clients to creatively utilize this technology to enhance service and streamline operations.

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