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2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: Hyperledger Fabric-Based Access Control

By Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

During the last six months, I had the chance to work as a part-time intern for the “Hyperledger Fabric-Based Access Control” project. It was my first contribution to an open source project, which was a great learning experience for me. I believe that contribution to an open source project leads to better understanding and more in-depth knowledge by accessing unlimited resources. I also had the chance to work with two amazing mentors from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Professor Rui Cruz and  Rafael Belchior. 

Project Introduction and goals

The project goal was to create an attribute-based access control system on top of Hyperledger Fabric. We presented a system architecture with an implementation based on Hyperledger Fabric. We used the Google Cloud Platform to run a Virtual Machine instance and test our application and collect performance analysis data. The proposed solution was validated through a multi-stakeholder use case of independent digital libraries. Our preliminary evaluation based on Hyperledger Caliper shows that the system can achieve around 200 access control requests per second, with a latency of around 0.3 seconds. 

Project accomplishments

  • Developing System modelling and architecture (Figure 1)
  • Implementing the attribute-based access control components as Hyperledger Fabric ChainCode (smart contracts) and creating a simple front-end interface to interact with blockchain application
  • Conducting performance analysis based on Hyperledger Caliper
  • Analyzing performance data and graph visualization using matplot library
  • Presenting the project in the format of academic paper

Figure 1. System architecture

Future works

Currently, our project only addresses the authorization components. This project can be expanded to be integrated with the authentication component as well, for example, it can be integrated with Hyperledger Indy, as Hyperledger Indy provides a powerful structure for decentralized identity and systems authentication. 

I want to thank the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger team for providing this opportunity for me and all the other mentees. I also want to especially thank Min Yu. I greatly appreciate her kind assistance during the whole internship program. Lastly, I want to thank my two fantastic mentors, Professor Rui Cruz and Rafael Belchior. I truly appreciate and value everything I have learned from you. 

For more details, please see my complete project report here.

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: Hyperledger Fabric SDK for Node.js security extension

By Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

What I worked on

I’m Hengming Zhang, a member of this summer’s Hyperledger Mentorship Program.

The general goal of my project was extending the security scope of the Hyperledger Fabric SDK for Node.js. Key objectives included:

  • Fix integration test failures on various operating systems.
  • Refactor the key store class design by object-oriented method.
  • Enhance the compatibilities of Hardware Security Module (HSM).
  • Construct an applicable offline signing scheme.

After having the first talk with my mentor, David Liu, I set out the milestones and deliverables with this project:

  1. Completing a list of checklist items that were established before the beginning of Hyperledger Mentorship Program. The checklist contains preparing:
    • AWS cloud account
    • Virtual machine snapshot for the on-premise desktop
    • Mobile devices
  2. Fixing  the integration test failures on macOS and Ubuntu by the 1st Quarter Evaluation.
  3. Refactoring Key store class design by the Midterm Quarter Evaluation.
  4. Enhancing HSM compatibility by the 3rd Quarter Evaluation.
  5. Offline signing of a client by the Final Evaluation.

Once I had finished the initial set up from the checklist, I started development for this project. During the development, the proudest of experience were using the right Hyperledger channels:

  • Technology – Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Fabric CA, and Hyperledger SDK for Node.js.
  • Tools – Hyperledger Wiki, Hyperledger Gerrit, Hyperledger Chat and Hyperledger Jira.

By the end of this internship, I had finished 6/7 of the deliverables I had created above.

In conclusion, I think my work on the offline signing scheme could have the most impact on the Hyperledger or larger communities. I have constructed an applicable client offline signing scheme using Flutter as the client for the fabric-client-flutter project and Node as the server for the fabric-server-node project.

At last, there are our mentor and mentee’s information for this summer’s Hyperledger Mentorship Program:

MentorEmailOrganization
David (Yuxiang) Liudavid-khala@hotmail.comMediConCen
MenteeEmailUniversity
Hengming (5sWind) Zhangfiveswind@gmail.comFudan University

What I learned or accomplished

As I mentioned in the “What I worked on” section, the six deliverables I completed include:

  • Setting up an AWS cloud account
  • Creating a virtual machine snapshot for the on-premise desktop
  • Preparing mobile devices
  • Fixing the integration test failures on macOS and Ubuntu
  • Enhancing HSM compatibility
  • Offline signing of client

However, there are no such shortcut path as things moved forward. Below are some of the issues I had to overcome: 

  • Running AWS CloudHSM on EC2 instance: Ubuntu 18 / Windows Server 2019 / Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Installing SoftHSM on Windows 10 virtual machine snapshot
  • Constructing a PKCS#8 standard RSA asymmetric keys that can be used to interact with Hyperledger Fabric network as the user’s local key store
  • Constructing a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) using RSA keys on the client side
  • Building an interactive model between Hyperledger Fabric and Flutter mobile client
  • Refactoring current CryptoKeyStore mixin class to an object-oriented class model

Plus, there are also some of the insights I got and lessons I learned from the Hyperledger community:

  1. Communicate with others (e.g., project maintainers, mentors)
  2. Connect and work remotely
  3. Document ideas, issues, and reports
  4. Clean code and use state-of-the-art technologies

So, at this time, I would like to share with you some advice regarding working in an open source community:

  1. Clean code and annotations are necessary: it means when others look at your project, they can quickly understand what your code does.
  2. Communication is important: it can help to deduplicate works, find solutions, and so on.

For example, in my internship experience, leveraging the second piece of  advice, I found out that the community was refactoring the code base that I was working on. Therefore, the duplicated work could be avoided.

What comes next

The ending of the internship journey is not the destination. I have some recommended next steps for the project:

  • Advancing and improving the fabric-client-flutter project, such as extend it to support other platforms: Windows, macOS, and even IoT devices for them to use Hyperledger Fabric.
1 fabric-client-flutter project interface on Android device.
2 fabric-client-flutter project interface on iOS device.
  • Refactoring and improving the fabric-server-node project to common Hyperledger Fabric servers that can be serving any request from any Hyperledger Fabric client.
  • Continuously contributing to the fabric-sdk-node project.

In the future, I would like to be a long-term contributor to the Hyperledger or the larger open source community.

With this internship experience, I hope I can move forward as a recognized engineer and cryptographic researcher.

For more details, see my project report here.

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update – Hyperledger Umbra: Simulating Hyperledger Blockchains using Mininet

By Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

What I worked on

The simulation research internship during the summer of 2018 led to the creation of the Hyperledger Umbra Lab. Due to the overall difficulty of getting Hyperledger blockchain frameworks running under the Shadow simulation tool, work on the Umbra lab had slowed to a crawl. A different network (si)emulation tool called Mininet had been proposed as an alternative to using Shadow with the potential to drastically reduce the startup cost of getting a network simulation tool running Hyperledger blockchains. My research project was to test the feasibility of running Hyperledger blockchains under Mininet for the purposes of running scalability and consensus mechanism experiments.

Project Objectives:

  1. Build reference architecture (Logical View and Process View)
  2. Evaluate Fabric project with reference architecture
  3. Build Stimulus, Monitoring, Dynamics
  4. Build Analysis
  5. Extend architecture to other Hyperledger project(s)
  6. Document the project

What I accomplished

By the end of my project, I had completed the design of a generic event-oriented platform that can be modularly extended  to reproduce any Hyperledger blockchain platform. The main difficulty was getting a clear understanding of working with Fabric as integration with this tool was not well documented. The documentation, especially,for how to create an example of extending Umbra for another blockchain project, is still going on.

Project Deliverables:

  1. Generic platform for running Hyperledger  blockchain platforms 
  2. Reproducible Ad-hoc Hyperledger Fabric Network (main achievement)
  3. Reproducible Ad-hoc Hyperledger Iroha Network (almost finished)
  4. Documentation (ongoing)
  5. Accepted for Hyperledger Global Forum 2020

What comes next

This is the beginning of reproducible academic work on Hyperledger blockchain projects (i.e., the development of comparable methodologies for consensus, gossip, security, etc.). Now, the most interesting work is running Umbra at scale as a cloud with hundreds/thousands of blockchain nodes.

For more details, please see my complete project report here.

Many Thanks to the Hyperledger MentorshipCommunity!

#umbra via labs@lists.hyperledger.org
https://github.com/hyperledger-labs/umbra

Raphael Vicente Rosa
https://intrig.dca.fee.unicamp.br/raphaelvrosa/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/raphaelvrosa


2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: Hyperledger Ursa integration into Hyperledger Iroha

By Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

This year, I had the amazing opportunity to contribute to the open source Hyperledger community as part of the 2019 Hyperledger Mentorship program. Participating in the program also gave me valuable experience in working on open source projects!

What I worked on

I primarily contributed to Hyperledger Iroha, a permissioned decentralized ledger technology. Iroha is capable of creating and managing assets, identity, and more. Behind the scenes, the efficient ed25519 signature scheme is used for securing transactions, blocks, and consensus votes.

I also worked with Ursa, a Hyperledger project that aims to provide a reusable cryptographic library for other projects in the Hyperledger ecosystem.

Working with both the Iroha and Ursa communities was a very rewarding experience. After completing this project, the thought of making contributions to open source projects no longer feels daunting. Additionally, I had extraordinary guidance from my mentor, Andrei Lebedev, who is part of the Iroha team. Without his mentoring, I do not believe my project would have been as successful as it turned out!

What I accomplished

Goal

The main goal of my work was to enable Iroha to call Ursa for verifying and creating cryptographic signatures. 

Accomplishing this goal required the following major steps:

  • Integrating Ursa into Iroha’s build process
  • Interfacing with Ursa’s ed25519 signature functions 
  • Maintaining support for both the original Iroha crypto and Ursa crypto
  • Making it easy to choose a cryptography provider through the configuration file

Challenges

The primary challenge we faced was a slight difference in the original Iroha ed25519 code and the Ursa ed25519 code, preventing Ursa from being a simple drop-in replacement. Overcoming this challenge meant maintaining compatibility with both the existing Iroha crypto library and the Ursa library.

Integration Overview

The following figure illustrates the architecture of the Ursa integration.

What comes next

I’m very excited about the potential of this integration. Moving Hyperledger projects onto a standard cryptographic library is beneficial for increasing security, reducing duplicated efforts, and improving the overall ecosystem. I also hope that my work may serve as a reference for other Hyperledger projects that may be interested in integrating Ursa cryptography.

The internship project can be extended in the following ways:

  • Support compiling Ursa through Iroha’s build system in non-Unix environments
  • Improve documentation for using Ursa cryptography provider
  • Support Ursa-compatible ed25519 in Iroha’s client libraries 

As someone interested in working on distributed systems, cryptography, and other areas related to core blockchain development, this was the perfect internship for me. Working on it only solidified my passion for these areas of software engineering, and I plan to continue my career working on blockchain systems and security.

More details about the implementation of my project are available here; I encourage anybody interested to read more about it!

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: IoT and DLT in a telecom multi carriers architecture

By Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

Introduction

Hyperledger Indy is a public and permissioned chain platform designed for identity-related usage. In this project, we use Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) and Verifiable Credentials combined with Indy ledger to realize Self-Sovereign Identity concept for IoT devices. Specifically, we designed a Decentralized Ledger Technology (DLT) architecture for supply chain process of telecom devices and implemented this architecture.

During this project, my mentor, Laura Spinaci, and I work on a design based on the proposal of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), and utilized the unique properties of Hyperledger Indy.

Accomplishments

  1. Designed a DLT architecture for supply chain process of telecom devices.
  2. Implemented this architecture with DIDs, Verifiable Credentials and Hyperledger Indy Python packages. In this protocol, we have multiple Schema issuers and multiple Credential issuers due to the different roles of mobile network operators, manufacturers, quality assurance teams, and end users.
  3. Created the docker test environment (to be completed by 12/20/2019). In the test environment, we use different port in single computer to act like different nodes in the entire network.
  4. Provided API documents for telecom devices companies, and a simple front-end demo (to be completed by 12/20/2019)

What comes next

For IoT devices, the device-to-device access and communication can enhance the entire systems ability of, for example, using Google voice kit to automatically control the smart home devices. Additionally, design details for privacy and user-device interaction also need to be refined.

However, as the project timeline is quite limited, these parts are left for the further development. I am happy and willing to make further open source contributions to them, and to Indy and the entire Hyperledger ecosystem.

For detail project information, please check this wiki page.

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: Running WebAssembly Smart Contracts in Fabric

By Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

I always wondered how it is like to be an open source contributor. I always wanted to work in an open source project, but I was hesitant about where to start. The Hyperledger Mentorship Program provided me with an opportunity to begin my journey in the open source world.

I had an enjoyable experience working with my mentors Swetha Repakula, Morgan Bauer and Jay Guo. They were really encouraging and very supportive throughout the period.  Although I was very new to the tech stack we used in this internship, my mentors helped a lot and were always there to resolve my doubts. 

Project goals

Hyperledger Fabric chaincode shims are only available in Golang, javascript, and java, which may limit developers around the world. For some, learning those languages and associated skill sets are a barrier to adoption of Hyperledger Fabric. 

My internship project Fabric Chaincode Wasm enables developers to use a wide variety of source languages for developing chaincodes by introducing a WebAssembly run time to Fabric users. WebAssembly exposes lots of languages for development, including C, Rust, and many more, because they can directly compile to WebAssembly.

You can find more information, reports and demo video here: https://wiki.hyperledger.org/display/INTERN/Running+Web+Assembly+Smart+Contracts+in+Fabric

Quick Technical Summary

As part of the project, we focused on creating an integration layer for deploying WebAssembly based chaincodes on Hyperledger Fabric without having none to minimal effect on Hyperledger Fabric core code. We achieved this by creating a Golang based chaincode named as wasmcc with an embedded WebAssembly Execution VM. This chaincode also exposes shim functions for WebAssembly chaincode developers to interact with Hyperledger Fabric networks and ledgers.

Here are some quick flow diagrams on how a WebAssembly chaincode is deployed and executed using this project.

Accomplishments

  • This project gave me a great chance to really learn WebAssembly and Golang.
  • My mentors guided me on various tools and best practices for open source community such as multiple Github features, which I never knew, the thinking process and creating CI/CD pipeline for open source projects. 
  • The most challenging part would be researching on WebAssembly and looking for a feasible WebAssembly based execution engine.

What comes next

This project has vast potential. It will allow people to quickly start adopting Hyperledger Fabric who were not able to due to technical language. Likewise, businesses can quickly start using Hyperledger Fabric without having to add to their teams’ existing available skill sets. By lowering these barriers to adoption, we’ve helped make Hyperledger Fabric an even more appealing choice as a blockchain platform. These features could also help in expanding the Hyperledger community.

Few of the technical improvement for future roadmaps:

  • Create minimal interfaces for languages that can be compiled to WebAssembly
  • Expose all other shim functions such as ACL for WebAssembly chaincodes
  • Try other WebAssembly execution engines as this area is evolving daily.
  • Create more examples using languages such as python, dotnet etc.

For all my fellow aspiring open source beginners, I only have one message for you: stop thinking and start engaging. You will find lots of encouraging people to guide you further. Take that Leap of Faith!

Lastly, I would like to thank the Linux Foundation committee for starting this mentorship program. I am sure it will be a life-turning experience for all my fellow mentees like me. I am also very thankful to Min Yu, my mentors and open source contributors for making this a smooth journey for me.

Please feel free to connect with me if you are interested in contributing to this project. You can find the repository under hyperledger labs, and you can always ping me at @shubham_aggarwal at rocketchat.

Hyperledger Global Forum 2020: The Content Line-Up

By Blog, Hyperledger Global Forum

Winter is coming, but we can’t feel the chill. Hyperledger Global Forum 2020 is keeping us busy and excited. Arizona’s calling, as is Camelback Mountain for those of us who hike. But enough about location, let’s talk about the content!

In a recent post, we shared the process of selecting the talks. Now it is time to tell you about the content. To keep it simple, we didn’t create multiple tracks. The job was to select 21 technical talks, 21 business talks, 18 product demos, and 8 workshops. Only 23% acceptance rate! That is harsh. On the other hand, we were very excited to  see proposals from more than 40 different companies as well as a good representation of universities, governments and non-profit organizations. 

The Program Committee, led by Tracy Kuhrt from Accenture and Hart Montgomery from Fujitsu, did the hard work and made the hard calls. They spent considerable time discussing the submissions and choosing the talks that were not only ranked highest but also came from new or under-represented voices in our community. The discussions were quite intense: many people were passionate about a different area.

Most of our Program Committee members are experienced reviewers for other industry and academic conferences. To make sure that we were all on the same page, guidelines on general CFP scoring guidelines and best practices were published as part of the CFP progress and the program committee developed the criteria we talked about in the previous post.

To make our program clear and easy to follow we created five tracks: Keynotes, Technical, Business, Demos and Workshops. We wanted to balance it out so that attendees wouldn’t have to choose between talks on going at the same time. 

Of course, no agenda is finalized without keynotes and so we are really excited to share with you the confirmed ones. We will hear from Sheila Warren, head of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger at World Economic Forum; “Blockchain Revolution” co-author Don Tapscot and our Governing Board chair, Robert Palatnick. 

In addition to these keynotes, we have a great line-up of talks. In the technical track, Alfonso De la Rocha Gómez-Arevalillo from Telefonica will talk about “Going into Production! Performance Best Practices in Hyperledger Fabric,” Swetha Repakula from IBM and Tracy Kuhrt from Accenture will tell us about building diverse ecosystems in their presentation “All Are Welcome Here: Creating an Inclusive Hyperledger Community” and Nathan George, representing Sovrin Foundation, will present on “Standards and Interoperability for Identity.”

In the business track, there will be quite a few case studies including ones by Julie Esser from CULedger and Ron Amstutz from Desert Financial Credit Union, Alan Krassowski from Kiva and John Jordan representing Government of British Columbia. We wanted to talk about collaboration, so you will find many talks on Hyperledger Besu and connections with the Ethereum community, including a panel “Competition, Collaboration, and Connection: How Hyperledger & Ethereum Communities Thrive.”

Did we succeed? Probably not – we can always do better! That’s why we are sharing the agenda with you so early. If you think we missed something or feel like it is not balanced enough, drop us a line at hgf@hyperledger.org. See you in Arizona!

Why SSI Incubator: An inside look at the program and startups

By Blog, Hyperledger Aries, Hyperledger Indy, Hyperledger Ursa

The identity community at Hyperledger is lucky to see the groundbreaking toolboxes, libraries, and resources grow by leaps and bounds in just a very short time. From Hyperledger Indy, then Hyperledger Ursa, to the new project Hyperledger Aries, widespread adoption of decentralized identity is closer than ever. It was this excitement and optimism for the growing industry of identity products and solutions being born out of this community from which the Self-Sovereign Identity Incubator (SSI Incubator) was launched. By combining the expert mentors from all over the decentralized identity world with some of the most passionate innovators in the identity startup scene today, the Hyperledger identity community is poised to see growth that we’ve all been waiting for.

The SSI Incubator is designed to remove barriers to startup financing and success within the self-sovereign identity (SSI) industry. More than just seed funding and high-profile pitching opportunities, participating startups also receive co-working space, educational workshops, mentorship, and networking events with some of the most influential voices in the decentralized identity community today. The startups in this program are nearing the end of this time-limited and mentor-focused program, with the 12 weeks culminating in a final evening devoted to exploring the future of SSI.

The five startup projects are:

  • Domi (Berlin): Digital passports for landlords and tenants that would create a fairer rental market.
  • HearRo (Los Angeles): A blockchain-powered phone system for trusted, effortless communication
  • MetaDigital Inc (Toronto): An Intelligent Healthcare Platform that would eliminate medical prescription and insurance claim fraud with real-time digital verification.
  • Spaceman ID Inc (Chicago): Tools for companies to easily implement private, secure, and portable digital credentials.
  • Xertify (Bogotá, CO): A network where people and institutions can exchange trusted information based on blockchain technology.

“The Hyperledger identity community holds the secret to growing the use and interoperability of SSI. The SSI Incubator has shined a light on the breadth of organizations of all types and sizes that see the value of decentralized identity,” said Heather C. Dahl, CEO & Executive Director of the Sovrin Foundation. “The mix of SSI solutions and startups focused on healthcare, enterprise adoption, the home rental market, telecommunications, and education joined us from around the world shows the widespread interest and development in self-sovereign identity technologies. This range of diverse solutions is what is driving SSI adoption.”

The SSI Incubator is a joint venture between the Sovrin Foundation and investment firm Hard Yaka. Join the SSI Incubator and startups for the culmination of their work by registering for their final event of the year.

Decentralization in Telecom – How Hyperledger Fabric Can Optimize and Simplify The Inter-carrier Settlement Process

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Special Interest Group

Telecom network operators worldwide open their networks to each other to enable their mutual customers to communicate across network boundaries. This practice, known as “Interconnect,” is being used among national and international operators for fixed, mobile, and Internet services.  Network operators cross-charge each other for the interconnect services they offer each other’s customers. It is done through invoicing/billing and settlements. 

Network operators collect and store detailed information in a record known as Call Detail Record (CDR) about every call ever attempted, whether completed or not. A typical CDR captures data such as calling and called party phone numbers, duration of the call, the timestamp for each activity, the ID of the equipment that handled the call, the result of the call, and so on.  Interconnect partners share CDRs for the purpose of “verifying” cross charges and settling balances. This verification process is cumbersome, inefficient, lengthy, costly, and error-prone. Missing CDRs and discrepancies in CDRs are very common problems. 

Due to the large number of network operators globally and the many-to-many relationships amongst them, the complexity and amount of cross charging and settlements data is exponential and very error-prone, causing Interconnect operations to be expensive. Typically, wholesale interconnect contributes to almost 30-40% of overall traditional telecom business for a telco, but with the declining margins, it has become essential to address the blocked revenue due to disputes and to optimize the overall cost involved in resolving these discrepancies.

To illustrate how the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger blockchain projects can be leveraged to help Telecom operators solve the Inter-Carrier Settlement problem, the Hyperledger Telecom SIG formed a subgroup for the purpose of understanding the problem from a business and technical perspective, proposing a Solution Brief, and developed a Proof of Concept (PoC).  

Even though the main focus of the PoC is to provide a technical solution that simplifies and streamlines the settlement process, we believe the solution’s real value is in its potential to reduce the overall settlement process cost for all ecosystem participants.  Cost reduction would be attributed to two main factors, friction reduction and shortening the time cash is held inside the system.  

A POC has been created as a Hyperledger Lab project to identify the potential transactions to be considered in the ICS smart contract. This is an open source effort and anyone is welcome to contribute.

The proposed solution broadly addresses how a DLT-based solution can:

  1. Create a single source of truth, which allows network operators to access and verify billing and cross-charging data in real-time.
  2. Reduce overall costs by replacing tedious processes, reducing dependency on intermediaries such as clearinghouses with simple, near real-time and error-free reconciliation and settlement process.
  3. Help in fraud detection and prevention.

The  Hyperledger Telecom SIG Inter-Carrier Settlement subgroup is successful in defining a solution based on Hyperledger Fabric as well as developing a working PoC which is available for demonstration for those who are interested.  The subgroup has also written a solution brief on how Blockchain-based solution could be used to simplify and expedite the Interconnect’s cross-charging and billing data-verification process. 

On the technical side, the solution brief covers the typical deployment architecture designed using Hyperledger Fabric for a Telecom Consortium. The whole idea is to bring multi Organization and multi-channel flavor supported by orchestration services to enable consensus between the collaborating parties for reconciliation.  

The solution brief serves as good educational material for explaining the Wholesale Interconnect problem from logistical and business perspective. It also explains the technical solution at a high level. 

The Telecom Special Interest Group is committed to collaborating with Telecom Operators, Researchers and Technical Organizations to evolve the Proof of Concept to a Production grade solution. The Telecom SIG team is also working with other Hyperledger groups to integrate solutions that can add value to the Intercarrier Settlement, which will eventually benefit the Telecom Operators.  If you are interested in this, join the group’s mailing list and regular calls and take part in the work of the group.

Below is the list of companies and research institutes in alphabetical order who have contributed to the Intercarrier Settlement Solution brief.

Organization NameURL
CONNECT Centrewww.connectcentre.ie
Delhi Universitywww.du.ac.in
IBMwww.ibm.com
Ledger Academywww.ledgeracademy.com
National Informatics Centerhttps://www.nic.in/
Pacioli Consultingwww.pacioli.us
Subex Ltd.www.subex.com

Hyperledger for Healthcare: How Fabric drives the next-generation pharma supply chain

By Blog, Healthcare, Hyperledger Fabric

Before new medicines can reach the patients that need them, the pharmaceutical and biotech companies that develop them must seek FDA approval. As part of this process, pharmaceutical companies sponsor highly controlled clinical studies in medical centers, called “sites.” The number of active studies has doubled over the last 10 years, and study sites are bursting at the seams. With the rise of personalized medicine and increasingly specialized shipping and storage requirements, this trend can only accelerate.

At LedgerDomain we’ve partnered to tackle this challenge with a broad spectrum of industry leaders, including pharmas, contract manufacturers, research organizations, academic sites, and couriers. At the heart of this effort is the world’s first iOS blockchain app for pharmaceutical supply chain, which we presented last month to the Hyperledger Healthcare Special Interest Group (HC SIG).

Today we’d like to dig beneath the surface of our efforts in this space. We’ll cover some lessons we’ve learned along the way, and how blockchain can speed innovative medicines to the patients who need them. We’ll also give you a sneak peek at a live pilot happening right now, where a blockchain-based solution is being used to deliver lifesaving medicines to real patients.

Why Hyperledger for healthcare?

We chose to join the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger in 2016 after a simple realization – most of our clients and prospects were apprehensive about coin-based models. Hyperledger Fabric represented a different approach to blockchain that aligned with their values at a deeper level. It’s no wonder that the community has come a long way since, emerging as the blockchain platform of choice for global enterprises. 

Coin-based models can serve as a fantastic incentive for participation, but not everyone in every jurisdiction is ready for cryptocurrency. A second factor that sets Hyperledger Fabric apart is its focus on privacy. While everyone is looking for the magic bullet that will enhance track-and-trace capabilities across the drug supply chain, nobody wants to risk leaking patient health records from a public blockchain across the dark web.

The DocuSeal framework

Highly regulated enterprise communities have unique requirements. Much of our work on Hyperledger Fabric has centered on specialized multi-threaded experiences designed for compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, Cal Privacy, and data privacy laws just over the horizon, performing at scale.

With that in mind, we built DocuSeal, a framework designed for blockchain-powered document authentication through an iOS application. With DocuSeal, uploaded documents are sealed in private storage, tied to a unique hash that’s immutably stored on a private blockchain. Documents can be shared with other users or deleted.

DocuSeal makes it possible to verify the authenticity of any document each time it’s accessed. At the same time, the “right to be forgotten” is preserved, as the private storage can be wiped if necessary while the hashes on the blockchain are preserved. To assure real-time performance metrics, we use Selvedge, our enterprise-grade blockchain app server developed in Golang on Hyperledger Fabric. 

We designed the DocuSeal framework so users could be up and running in minutes with simple document storage and sharing – similar to Dropbox – plus serious security and timestamping. But underneath this simple interface, our stakeholders can leverage the power of smart contracts to drive inter-enterprise workflows.

How blockchain can speed innovative medicines to the patients who need them

Testing new medications is an extraordinarily complex process. Right now, over 800 biotechs and pharmas are working with their vendors to supply medicines for over 10,000 clinical studies to tens of thousands of clinical sites. And the number of studies is constantly growing.

While some clinical sites are just a doctor and an assistant, large academic centers aren’t like your neighborhood Walgreens or Boots. They’re massive warehouses with pallets loaded with experimental medications. One of our partners, UCLA, has 700 clinical studies sponsored by 100 different companies. This is a massive undertaking where no single pharma’s proprietary system can predominate, so everyone has fallen back on paper.

With that in mind, in 2017, we joined forces with other industry leaders as part of the Clinical Supply Blockchain Working Group (CSBWG), which includes Pfizer, IQVIA, UPS, Merck, UCLA Health, GSK, Thermo Fisher, and Biogen. Over the course of two years, we built out a pilot on Hyperledger Fabric to address this challenge directly. We named it KitChain

(Want a deeper dive on technical specifications? Check out our white paper!)

Big picture: supply chains and blockchain

KitChain was a major milestone for the supply chain for clinical studies, but meanwhile the stakeholders on the commercial pharmaceutical supply chain were struggling to meet their own challenges. Everyone is looking ahead to 2023, when the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) will come into full effect with sweeping requirements for traceability across the entire pharmaceutical supply chain.

With that in mind, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) came out earlier this year in search of enterprising stakeholders to help them tackle the problem of counterfeit and suspect medicines. 

In response to the FDA’s call for pilots to address this challenge, we partnered with UCLA Health to launch the only pilot of its kind. We’re building and testing a last-mile blockchain-driven solution designed to help deliver lifesaving medications to real patients. This solution features an intuitive iOS client running on our Selvedge app server and smart contracts, all powered by Hyperledger Fabric.

This is a “rubber hits the road” moment for supply blockchain: out of the workshop and into the real world. Our living supply chain solution captures all the transactions – from the loading dock to the patient. It will capture the data needed to develop trends and analytics, and be able to surface risk management issues. But most of all, it’s designed to handle the human element – because in the real world, sometimes things happen you don’t expect. A blockchain system that doesn’t allow for human factors will no longer reflect the ground truth. These are all things we’re working on right now, and we look forward to sharing our findings and connecting with you in Phoenix at Hyperledger Global Forum 2020.

The Hyperledger community has grown and matured over the last three years, and we’re honored to be a part of building the future of blockchain. Delivering our full-stack enterprise-grade solution by ourselves would have been impossible, but by joining Hyperledger and the Linux Foundation, we’ve been able to contribute while standing on the shoulders of giants.

About the Author

Ben Taylor is the CEO of LedgerDomain, founded in 2016 to bring Hyperledger blockchain solutions to enterprise ecosystems, unlocking a world of communal computing and real-time performance. After doing undergraduate and graduate work at MIT, Ben spent a quarter of a century incubating and investing in early-stage technology companies.

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