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Special Interest Group

#RadicalCollaboration | Hyperledger CA2 SIG leading a working group at Open Climate Collabathon

By Blog, Special Interest Group

When looking at climate change, it seems like there are thousands of factors that need to be considered. The truth is, there is really just one: human collaboration. No matter if looking at behavior or trying to find a solution, human collaboration makes all the difference.

The question is how can we collaborate? How do we come together to work on a shared cause? How do we scale? How do we sustain the effort? 

There are many possible answers to these questions. In this article, we will explain what true collaboration looks like for us. We share the same vision, value each other, and each of us is solely here because of an intrinsic motivation: to tackle climate change. “We” are the Hyperledger Climate and Accounting (CA2) Special Interest Group (SIG).

CA2 SIG 

The CA2 SIG fosters and engages a multi-stakeholder network to exchange ideas, needs, and resources in order to develop and consolidate open source distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions for common climate accounting mechanisms and frameworks. Our recent post Tackling Climate Change with Blockchain: An Urgent Need, Ready Opportunity and Call to Action provides more in-depth information about the CA2 SIG and our different working groups (WG).

One of the WGs to highlight in this blog post, which kicked off this summer, is the Carbon Accounting and Certification Working Group. The mission of this WG is to identify how DLTs could improve corporate or personal carbon accounting and make carbon accounting and certifications more open, transparent, and credible. By now, our first prototype is ready to calculate customers’ utility emissions according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 and store the emission records immutably to a Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.

Purpose-driven

Our vision is to build an open climate accounting system that covers all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. A system like this would make real trust and transparency possible for the first time. We are convinced that only then do we have a true shot at tackling climate change as a human society. 

In case you are still wondering why we invest our time in CA2 SIG: we take our spot in the bottom-up approach of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and prevent irreversible damage to our planet if temperatures reach a 1.5 degree warming.

To drive our vision at a larger scale, the Carbon Accounting and Certification WG is taking part in the Open Climate Collabathon from November 9th to 23rd, 2020. 

The Open Climate Collabathon is an international open source initiative to establish a global platform for climate pledges, action tracking, carbon mitigation, and finance, that reflects the current state of planet Earth (i.e., temperature increase, resilience, etc.). The project focuses on leveraging emerging digital technologies like blockchain & distributed ledgers and other innovations to create a globally shared digital hub for coordinating a timely climate change response, internationally.

Collabathon = radical collaboration + hackathon

Our process

The Carbon Accounting and Certification WG does not just stand for a purpose-driven team but also a multicultural community of experts, students, developers, and climate activists. Together we worked toward the idea of multi-channel data architecture and created the Open Business Application Framework over an iterative process during the past year. The Open Business Application Framework is a generic model with a layered architecture that can be applied to many scenarios in climate space. Especially to projects that need a distributed ledger as a common data layer and want to benefit from the Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) (Hyperledger Indy) as well as the Verifiable Credentials (Hyperledger Aries) standards defined by the W3C.

What we do

With this idea, we joined the Open Climate Collabathon to lead a working group with two different tracks – technical and non-technical – during the two weeks sprint to get more people involved.

From the technical side, we concentrate our resources on the Common ID & Agents as well as the Common Data Layer and the interoperability between them. The first stream implements the Hyperledger Lab TrustID to the existing Hyperledger Fabric deployment. The TrustID project develops a chaincode and an SDK that, together, enable identity management in Hyperledger Fabric as a decentralized alternative to CAs by using the DID standard specified by the W3C. In a second stream, we move our local Hyperledger Fabric deployment to a distributed, multi-cloud Hyperledger Fabric network consisting of three independent organizations. The private permissioned ledger would just be one part of the Common Data Layer. In the future, we strive for interoperability between additional ledgers like Hyperledger Besu or Ethereum Mainnet

Last but not least – maybe even most importantly – what we do is not only technical but covers the business issues of using DLT for climate action. During a breakout session at the collabathon focused on the business issues, we came up with follow-up tasks such as:

  • Explore how a Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO) or digital currency could be used to motivate climate action.
  • Find reliable emissions factors for energy in other countries beyond the USA.
  • Develop a business plan for a virtual renewable energy network. This would allow members who can not get solar panels directly, because they rent, move frequently, or have houses that are not structurally eligible to get the benefits of renewable energy and offset their emissions as well.  
  • Develop a business plan for energy efficiency with blockchain

Start collaborating

Of course, we are always looking for further collaborators. If you feel addressed by one of the tasks, are an expert in one of the areas or you just want to experience radical collaboration to make a difference, join us at:

We are looking forward to welcoming you.

Tackling Climate Change with Blockchain: An Urgent Need, Ready Opportunity and Call to Action

By Blog, Special Interest Group

If blockchain is really going to change the world, then why are so many of us stuck in pilot purgatory? Is it because our distributed ledgers are too disruptive to the existing incumbents? Or that they already have solutions that are good enough, at least for now, so breakthrough ideas like blockchain could wait on the back burner?  

Is there a large scale, urgent business problem out there that requires massive collaboration and does not have existing incumbents?

We believe there is one: Climate change.  

While we as a society recognize that climate change is real and have the technologies to fix it, we lack a way to get all the parts of our economy — businesses, investors and banks, consumers, and regulators — to work together on it.  Part of the problem is we have to work across traditional boundaries of industries and countries and integrate vast supply chains around the world. And we have to do it without recognized central authorities because they don’t exist at this point.  

Fortunately, blockchain, or distributed ledger technologies (DLT), may be just the right tool for this challenge: It is designed for coordinating trust and collaboration across multiple parties, with greater speed and much greater scale than ever before. With blockchain, we could record trusted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for every type of economic activity and transfer them across supply chains as products and services are transacted.

The Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group (CA2SIG) of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project is an open source effort to foster a collaborative network of climate, DLT, and other emerging technology organizations (i.e., universities, NGOs, government, startups, corporations, multilateral development banks, etc.) that can create a center of gravity around the role of DLT and open source software to address challenges in the global climate action, policy and digital accounting space.  

We hope that our work could act as a shared initiative where participants can contribute value to and share explorations in the use of DLT alongside other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, and machine learning to address the challenge of keeping a transparent climate accounting system towards the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The CA2SIG is currently comprised of the following working groups:

Carbon Accounting and Certification Working Group, which is working on automating accounting and transactions of emissions:

Consumer Disclosure Working Group, which is working on ways of making customers aware, in a meaningful, understandable way, of the impact they bring about on the environment while going about their daily life:

Climate Accounting Standards and Protocols Working Group, which is focused particularly on the protocols and standards that will enable consistent climate accounting :

Together, these working groups are building software for the following goals:

  • Implementing GHG emissions accounting using verified data and models, which could publish trusted emissions data for a wide variety of business activities.
  • Passing GHG emissions up to national and supra-national structures.
  • Making accurate GHG emissions available at the consumer level.

By making our work open source, we hope to enable more developers to build on our work and extend GHG accounting to every part of our economy around the world.  

What we’re asking is for people to help us integrate our software into more activities. Climate change is happening because every little thing that is happening is contributing to it just a tiny bit. We want to be able to get data on those activities, model their emissions, and start making people aware of their impact and work together to reduce emissions.  

Whether you’re an experienced developer, from the business side, or a private individual, we could use your help in linking real world activities to climate change and coming up with solutions together. Join us on the Hyperledger Wiki for more details and links to regular calls.

Hyperledger for the Blockchain Skeptic

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Special Interest Group

As an enterprise software developer, I’m used to thinking about solving real world business problems. So, naturally, I was pretty skeptical of bitcoin and the blockchain when I first heard about it.  

Yet the idea of a “distributed ledger” kept tugging at me. Since all the apps we’ve built, from ERP to CRM to e-commerce, revolved around a ledger of transactions, what could a global, distributed ledger allow us to build?  

It took me three years of off-and-on studying and a few very smart people to finally make me realize that the blockchain, or distributed ledger technologies (DLTs), is just a small step from what we’re already used to. But that little step could unlock a new world of possibilities.  

In this post, let me address some of the common skepticism I’ve encountered as part of the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group. Then in a follow-up post, I’ll show you why I believe climate change is the killer app for the blockchain.

I Don’t Need a Blockchain

Are you sure? Because you’ve probably already started building a few.  

With enterprise software, we often have to prove that the data we’re using is authentic. So how would you assure someone that the data you’re using has not been altered or tampered with?  You know that the data provider might change its API or the data you get from it, so 

  • Did you make a local copy of the data you got?  
  • Did you record the date and time you got it?  
  • Did you record a hash of the data, so it could be compared with the data you used for your application?  
  • Did you store archival copies of the data and the hash so that you could prove that they are all correct?  
  • Did you store multiple copies just to be sure?

If so, then you’ve built much of what goes into a blockchain or distributed ledger. A blockchain is really a protocol to store data across multiple nodes while assuring their consistency. It follows all the steps outlined above, plus a few more, to make sure that once stored, data cannot be lost or altered.  

So if you’ve already been building your own “distributed” data records, then you obviously need what the blockchain offers. It addresses many of the pain points of data integration that we deal with every day in enterprise software.  

The advantages of an open source blockchain platform such as Hyperledger Fabric or Hyperledger Sawtooth, compared to a homegrown solution, are many: Most obviously, there is security and scalability of a developed solution. Then there is the support for the “unknown unknowns,” use cases you may not realize exist but would surface over time. Finally, there’s the chance to work with some very smart people and learn more about this emerging technology.

Databases Are Faster than Blockchains

This is certainly true, and nobody would suggest that you replace your database with a blockchain. The two have different but very complementary uses.

Databases are great for fast read and write access of data within an organization. Blockchains are great for making sure data is stored immutably, so that its authenticity could be proven across multiple organizations.  

Another way to think about it is that databases are for building applications, while blockchains are for building collaboration.

There Are too Many Competing Blockchains for Me to Use Them Now

This probably stems from confusing blockchain with Bitcoin, just like people once confused Compuserve or AOL with the internet.  

Remember that blockchain is a technology, while Bitcoin is a protocol and a cryptocurrency implemented with blockchain. There will always be many different protocols, cryptocurrencies, and frameworks implemented with blockchain technologies, just like there were many different websites implemented on the internet.  

Blockchains are Too Energy Intensive and Bad for the Environment

I get this from climate activists, some of whom actually got angry when I mentioned the blockchain.  Again, this stems from confusing blockchain with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other implementations of the blockchain.

The early blockchain protocols such as Bitcoin and Ethereum used proof-of-work consensus mechanisms, which required a lot of energy-intensive “mining” of cryptographic puzzles. Their  creators probably never imagined them to become as popular as they did, or that they would consume as much energy as whole countries.

Fortunately, we’re all moving away from proof-of-work because it is so energy intensive and simply slow. Hyperledger Fabric, for example, is both fast and energy efficient because it does not use proof-of-work.

Blockchains are Too Immature Right Now

This may have been true five years ago but is definitely not true any more.  There are plenty of blockchain applications — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Compound to name a few — that have billions of dollars of stored value. On the enterprise side, Hyperledger platforms have been used in production for a range of interesting use cases for a while now.

The field will continue to evolve, but, as a whole, blockchain has probably reached the level of maturity of the internet around when Amazon got started, if not further.

There is No Killer App for Blockchain

Which brings us back to the original question: What could a global, distributed ledger allow us to build?

I believe it would allow us to create collaboration on an unprecedented scale, across traditional national and industry boundaries and over long time horizons. And there’s no use case better suited, or more urgent, than climate change. Stay tuned.

About the author
Si Chen has been developing open source enterprise software since 2005.  He is a part of the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group, which is working on using Hyperledger and blockchain to solve the climate change problem. 

Cover image: https://www.needpix.com/photo/1214471/blockchain-block-chain-technology-computer-symbol-network-connection-web

Hyperledger Community on Camera: “How To Get Involved” Video Series – Part V

By Blog, Special Interest Group, Video

While the Hyperledger community was gathered in Phoenix at Hyperledger Global Forum, many members took the time to sit down, on camera, and explain what happens in the array of Hyperledger working groups, special interest groups (SIGs) and technology projects. These videos are great introductions to the community-driven activities in the Hyperledger ecosystem. Geared towards anyone looking to take on a more active role in the effort to advance open source enterprise blockchain, the “How To Get Involved” video series provides an overview of the goals, key initiatives and target use cases each for each group or project. The message in each case is that you are invited to join and all are welcome here.

In this final post, we are spotlighting four special interest groups that are hard at work applying blockchain to core infrastructure challenges. Learn more about how to help drive industry adoption in capital markets, public sector, supply chain and telecom with these videos:

Capital Markets Special Interest Group

Public Sector Special Interest Group

Supply Chain Special Interest Group

Telecom Special Interest Group

Community Spotlight: Meet Saptarshi Choudhury, Hyperledger Public Sector Special Interest Group Co-Chair

By Blog, Community Spotlight, Special Interest Group

Welcome to our Community Spotlight series, which highlights the work of those taking on leadership roles in our special interest and working groups. Meet Saptarshi Choudhury, co-chair of the Public Sector Special Interest Group and Director of Emerging Technologies for Paramount Software Solutions.

Tell us about yourself. Describe your current role, your current business and background, and your involvement in the Hyperledger Public Sector SIG.

I am the Director of Emerging Technologies for Paramount Software Solutions. Since July 2018, I’ve primarily worked on digital transformation in enterprises through blockchain. Prior to that, I worked for AMK Solutions exploring the values of human dynamics and correlation with digital adoption. I started my engagement with the public sector in December 2012 as an electrical engineer for the infrastructure unit of HSCL. I hold a Bachelors and Masters in electrical engineering and have had the opportunity to glimpse the diversity of the world from the lens of different challenging roles. Last year in February, the Hyperledger Public Sector Special Interest Group (PS SIG) intrigued me as it drew attention from people all over the world with diverse backgrounds in technical, business, political or socio-economic frontiers. I have been regularly attending the biweekly meetings for the last one and a half years and am presently hosting the meeting as a co-chair with Dr. Hanna Norberg.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in five years? 

Hyperledger is expanding the width and depth of its efforts to promote decentralization for trust and transparency through its evergreen projects. Distributed ledger technologies like Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth are gaining global attention as platforms for private and permissioned ledgers for enterprise applications whereas Hyperledger Indy is revolutionizing how we perceive the fundamental concept of Digital ID. This year Hyperledger Besu was featured in the Coindesk 50. There are other exciting projects like Iroha and Burrow that are on track to help solve critical challenges of the world through blockchain. My hope is that we will be able to make progress on different aspects with tools like Hyperledger Cactus on interoperability, Hyperledger Avalon on trusted off-chain transactions and Hyperledger Caliper on performance benchmarking. In addition, thanks to the Hyperledger Ursa library, we will be able to avoid duplicating cryptographic modules for different projects. 

What do you see as the biggest barrier to widespread blockchain adoption?

My take is that the biggest barriers are lack of clarity in policies and regulations covering the different aspects of blockchain and the need for standardization and interoperability among the evolving solutions.

What are the biggest opportunities ahead for blockchain developers?

The Hyperledger projects are based on software languages that are popular among programmers, and so they can get started without specialized training. The underlying coding background could be JavaScript, Python, Go or even Java. Even if someone has limited skill in coding, they don’t need to shy away from working with the community as the starting point could be adding value to the documentation team. They can also review and contribute to the projects in Github.

What is the Public Sector SIG working on currently? Any new developments to share? 

The Public Sector SIG is presently hosting biweekly presentations by interested volunteers from different parts of the world. We proactively monitor all the governmental policies and initiatives associated with blockchain. In addition, we are creating a database of all the blockchain initiatives in the public sector globally. Recently, there has been a surge of interest among the members to address the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also seeing interest in the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

What’s the most important milestone for the Public Sector SIG to reach in 2020? 

The unending pandemic of Covid-19 has tilted the focus on healthcare. However, there are people who also want to explore and understand the regulatory frameworks and progressive stance for blockchain in different countries. We as a community collectively intend to foster collaboration among public agencies, private organizations and nonprofits with the aim of cutting away barriers to sharing specific blockchain work across borders to minimize siloed efforts and parallel initiatives.

Why should someone participate in the group? Why is it important for Hyperledger to encourage collaboration around adopting blockchain technologies for public sector use cases? 

From an individual point of view, open source meetings are a hotbed for nurturing leadership skills and working in a collaborative environment. From the standpoint of Hyperledger, active community participation means solutions are designed and developed based on shared values and joint philosophy. The Public Sector SIG emphasizes wider adoption of blockchain technologies that add value to all irrespective of who they are or what their worldview entails. 

What are a few ways people can participate in and contribute to the Public Sector SIG? (i.e., What type of support does the group need?)

People can join the Public Sector SIG meetings that occur via Zoom every other Friday at 10am ET. They can also subscribe to the mailing list to stay updated about the latest progress in the community and contribute to the Hyperledger Wiki. To get involved, it’s best to create a Linux Foundation ID. I would also recommend going through the short clip on “How to get involved in the Public Sector SIG.”

Hyperledger Community on Camera: “How to Get Involved” Video Series – Part II

By Blog, Special Interest Group, Video

While the Hyperledger community was gathered in Phoenix at Hyperledger Global Forum, many members took the time to sit down, on camera, and explain what happens in the array of Hyperledger working groups, special interest groups (SIGs) and technology projects. These videos are great introductions to the community-driven activities in the Hyperledger ecosystem. Geared towards anyone looking to take on a more active role in the effort to advance open source enterprise blockchain, the “How to Get Involved” video series provides an overview of the goals, key initiatives and target use cases each for each group or project. The message in each case is that you are invited to join and all are welcome here.

Today we are highlighting the important cross-industry work of three of our SIGs that are addressing topics that are top-of-mind topics these days: healthcare, climate and social impact. These videos will help you find a way to get involved:

Hyperledger welcomes the Climate Action & Accounting Special Interest Group

By Blog, Special Interest Group

Hyperledger has launched the Hyperledger Climate Action & Accounting (CA2) Special Interest Group (SIG) to facilitate focused technical, business and global-level conversations and projects related to appropriate use cases for blockchain and compatible emerging digital technologies across the climate sector. 

For several years now, climate science has had an unequivocal consensus that global emissions should peak by 2020 and take a sharp decline to zero by 2050. 2020 is now here and yet we are nowhere near this goal. At a critical inflection point in the history of this planet and the global effort to prevent irreversible climate damage, this Hyperledger SIG is launched in an outmost timeline fashion to help bridge action between planet, policy, technology and economy.

SIGs gather community members from an industry segment to work on domain-specific problems and create an environment for open discussion, document co-creation and solution proposals. Hyperledger now has nine SIGs, including ones focused on healthcare, telecom, trade finance, supply chain and social impact.

Climate change is recognized globally as both a crisis and an opportunity requiring transformational change to attain sustainable societies and economies. Urgent action at a global scale is crucially important to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement (i.e., UN global climate accord). Five years later, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2020 highlighted “Climate Action Failure” as the top risk – ahead of all other major risks such as war and trade conflicts. Concerted action is often fraught with mistrust and lack of transparency among the scope of actors (countries, subnational governments, companies, individuals) due to uncertainty of distributed responsibilities and clashing incentives at the short-term level. Whilst the Paris Agreement is a globally encompassing framework to prevent warming above 1.5oC (relative to pre-industrial levels), it still lacks a clear mechanism enabling actors to “speak the same language” when recording and governing the use of climate-relevant data and verified actions. 

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) and other emerging digital solutions have the potential to provide trusted record-keeping processes, data consensus and rules automation — crucially needed components in order to align actors, accelerate mitigation and adaptation action, and mobilize the trillions of dollars of finance required annually. Hyperledger’s ecosystem and DLTs are central to the creation of a global and open climate accounting system that helps integrate all actors and actions under the same planetary goal. The Climate Action & Accounting SIG has launched to leverage Hyperledger frameworks and the Linux Foundation’s know-how for the development of an open source and decentralized climate accountability network that both operationalizes transparency (i.e., Article 13 of the Paris Accord) whilst enhancing each actor’s personal privacy, security, and control.

The scope of the SIG is defined by the terms climate action and climate accounting:  

Climate Action is a broadly encompassing term that involves all climate-relevant actions (e.g., policies, programs, technologies, goods, services) taken by actors (e.g., states and non-state actors such as businesses, cities, individuals). This covers the range from emission generating activities to the broad set of actions encompassed within climate mitigation and adaptation and its associated finance mechanisms.

Climate Accounting, on the other hand, is referred by the SIG as the encompassing term that involves all processes of recording climate-relevant information/data. This ranges from the physical state of the planet to the list of all climate actors, their broad set of climate actions and agreements in respect to the shared account of the climate challenge.

In other words, whilst climate action occurs in the real world, climate accounting is recorded in the digital world.

Through open and participative discussions, the SIG will help build the relationship between both climate domains and consolidate technological tools to do so.

The new SIG is led by two co-chairs: Martin Wainstein, PhD, and Tom Baumann. Martin is the founder and lead researcher at the Yale Open Innovation Lab at the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, climate advisor to the Spatial Web Foundation, and manager of the climate & energy finance projects at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. Tom Baumann is the founder and co-chair of the Climate Chain Coalition, co-chair of the INATBA Climate Action WG (International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications), former international chair (2014-2019) of ISO’s climate change standards committee, as well as co-founder of several start-ups including Xpansiv, Adaptation Ledger, ClimateCHECK, GHG Management Institute, Collaborase, and NovaSphere.

The mission and goals of the Hyperledger CA2 SIG is to foster a collaborative network of climate, DLT other emerging technology organizations (i.e., universities, NGOs, government, startups, corporations, multilateral development banks, etc.) that can create a center of gravity around the role of DLT and open source software to address challenges in the global climate action, policy and digital accounting space. 

A focus point of the SIG would be to turn this network into action under a common open source project that defines shared protocols, standards, and platform tools for a globally integrated climate accounting system to be operationalized, and meet requirements by emerging initiatives like the FSB TCFD (Task Force for Climate-Related Disclosure). This open climate project can act as a shared initiative where participants can contribute value to and share explorations in the use DLT alongside other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, and machine learning to address the challenge of keeping a transparent climate accounting system towards the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The SIG community will take initiative to specifically address and develop:

  • Compile completed, ongoing, and proposed future activities related to blockchain for climate action & accounting
  • Create a directory of organizations and initiatives involved with blockchain and the climate space (map of organization location, contact person, description, website, etc.)
  • Consolidate the architecture of an integrated system, involving multiple blockchain mechanisms connected through shared protocols, allowing contractual automation in the link between finance and climate value flow based on the agreed physical parameter of the Earth system
  • Identify Hyperledger tools and frameworks to develop and maintain a single record-keeping ledger with global consensus (i.e., a ‘ledger of ledger’ where all parties agree)
  • Propose and define shared protocols and standards to allow interoperability across the climate accounting system and integrated platforms
  • Compile of best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations to stakeholders (policymakers, technology developers, etc.)
  • Support events (e.g., at blockchain and climate conferences such as COP) and related activities for collaboration among members and stakeholders.
  • Propose, discuss and define a longer-term strategic vision of an open innovation consortium that can help steward, fund, and maintain an open source climate action and accounting project and system

We welcome your participation. If you would like to join the Climate Action and Accounting SIG, please subscribe to the mailing list and join the chat channel where online meeting details will be announced. The CA2 SIG wiki page contains links to resources, activities, meeting minutes, project details and the active member directory. Find a list of all Hyperledger community meetings, including the Climate Action and Accounting SIG, on the Hyperledger Community calendar. We look forward to your active involvement and valuable contributions.

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 Welcomes Capital Markets Special Interest Group

By Blog, Special Interest Group

Hyperledger has launched the Hyperledger Capital Markets Special Interest Group (SIG) to facilitate focused technical and business-level conversations related to appropriate use cases for blockchain technology across capital markets.

SIGs gather community members from an industry segment to work on domain-specific problems and create an environment for open discussion, document co-creation and solution proposals. Hyperledger now has eight SIGs, including ones focused on healthcare, telecom, trade finance, supply chain and social impact.

Capital markets are a way to connect investors and borrowers and include the bond market (the largest market) and the stock market. It can also include derivatives. Borrowers get access to capital and investors get returns from their investment. These returns can be in the form of dividends, coupon payments or appreciation of the instruments. The downside risk is default by the borrowers as well as the reduction in the price of instruments. Borrowers are enterprises or governments and investors are individuals or public and private institutions. Capital markets are an important component of the economy.  

Blockchain, at its inception, was aimed at global uncensored retail payments through the medium of a digital currency. The original solution has since evolved into a store of value and its exchange among participants in a safe, secure and transparent manner. Many blockchain solutions have been created to cover the issuance and transfer of digital assets, futures and other derivatives. This and other solutions encompass capital markets infrastructure and processes. 

The Cambrian explosion of blockchain solutions range from public permissionless-type platforms to private permissioned. Many of these solutions are in the capital markets sector. Hyperledger houses a diverse set of primary blockchain frameworks, utilities and libraries. The new SIG helps unify thinking and solutions targeted to capital markets in Hyperledger and is a forum where capital markets business experts and blockchain technical folks come together in an open community.

The scope of the Hyperledger Capital Markets SIG (CM-SIG) includes:

  • Drawing out a front-to-back taxonomy for a generic capital market infrastructure with variations on specific product lines
  • Identifying the impact of Distributed Ledger Technologies (“DLTs”) and their place in the architecture (business, integration, infrastructure, regulation, market events, interaction between product lines) 
  • Analyzing risk calculations and scenarios including the impact of DLTs in pre-market, trading, hedging, day-to-day risk management, trading limits and FRTB
  • Tracking specific use cases, current pilots and proofs of concept, and production case studies with opportunities and risk; as well as solutions for the identified problems
  • Collecting documentation on cross-cutting architectural principles, performance and scalability, security, identity management, off-chain data, deployment and operation in regulated enterprises
  • Advancing standards in capital markets for data in flight and at rest, events and responses, privacy in light of DLTs
  • Planning and participating in conferences or meetups to connect face to face, submit papers, talks, presentations
  • Interfacing with companion SIGs like Trade Finance or Supply Chain to draw out common areas of concern and interactivity of solutions
  • Documenting functional knowledge drawn from SIGs like Telecom, best practices from  Social Impact as well as the knowledge drawn from Architecture, Identity and Performance and Scale Working Groups

The new Hyperledger Capital Markets SIG is led by the chair Vipin Bharathan, Founder dlt.nyc, a blockchain consulting firm, and vice chair Natalia Garcia, Assistant Director in Debt Capital Markets, and is composed of more than 21 founding individuals from different locations and a diverse line-up of financial institutions. SIG membership and participation has grown quickly and is open to all. We have already had several calls and are involved in some projects that the community has found interesting.

Currently we are engaged in developing and identifying :

  • Taxonomies classifying the dimensions of capital markets, 
  • Standards covering the different types of products
  • Prominent use cases
  • Challenges or obstacles that are common to DLTs and their application to capital markets use cases
  • Regulations that apply to the various aspects of this highly regulated industry
  • ROI of any particular solution, especially on intangible aspects like trust, transparency and decentralization in capital markets

Greater details on any one of these projects can be found through our projects page. CM-SIG is aimed at working together to discover correlations between these projects to deploy actual solutions from the Hyperledger greenhouse inside capital markets.

You are welcome to volunteer for any of the existing projects. We also welcome new projects, especially if they are presented before the community and have a group of committed volunteers backing them. When needed, a task force can also be created within the SIG and have working sessions to discuss specific work items.

We welcome your participation. If you would like to join the Capital Markets SIG, please subscribe to the mailing list and join the chat channel where online meeting details will be announced. The CM-SIG wiki page contains links to resources, activities, meeting minutes, project details and the active member directory. Find a list of all Hyperledger community meetings, including the Capital Markets SIG, on the Hyperledger Community calendar. We look forward to your active involvement and valuable contributions.

Community Spotlight: Meet Richard Bloch, Hyperledger Healthcare SIG Chair

By Blog, Community Spotlight, Special Interest Group

Welcome to our Community Spotlight series, which highlights the work of those taking on leadership roles in our special interest and working groups. Meet Richard Bloch, chair of the Hyperledger Healthcare Special Interest Group (HC-SIG) and founder of Digital Healthcare I/O.

Tell us about yourself. Describe your current role, your current business and background, and your involvement in the Hyperledger HC-SIG.

My name is Rich Bloch. Professionally, I have over 30 years of systems and software engineering and engineering management experience. I spent my first 10 years at Microsoft Corporation, developing Microsoft Word and Microsoft Flight Simulator. After leaving Microsoft to start my consulting groups, Business Learning Incorporated (businesslearninginc.com) and Digital Healthcare I/O (digitalhealthcare.io), I’ve spent much of my career working across a broad range of technology domains including Government (the FAA and various DoD agencies), aerospace, satellite engineering, and of course, healthcare.

I also serve as a community volunteer on the Board of Trustees as Chair, and am a Past Chair of the Foundation Board for Northwest Kidney Centers (NKC), the world’s first dialysis provider and the third largest non-profit kidney care organization in the US. In the chronic kidney disease (CKD) domain, I’m an active community speaker and advocate. In 2019, I was honored to deliver the keynote address at the Patient Engagement at UW Medicine Workshop presented by the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington.

I currently chair the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Healthcare Special Interest Group (HC-SIG), an international membership of over 1,000 healthcare professionals interested in identifying and using blockchain technology frameworks and tools to develop real-world, enterprise-grade solutions across the healthcare technologies domain.

What is one issue or problem blockchain can solve in the healthcare industry today? 

It’s important to remember that blockchain technologies–which is a suite of complementary technologies including digital ledger technologies (DLT), self sovereign identity management (SSI), and cryptocurrencies/tokens–is less a stand-alone solution as it a set of unique technologies and protocols. So, to me, the real strength of blockchain technologies are in their universality of applicability. In an article that recently I co-authored, I liken our current understanding of blockchain technologies to the introduction of the Internet back in the early 1990s. Back then, no one really understood what the scope and capabilities were of these new and complex protocols, but we learned and grew to develop successful solutions that ran across the Internet that–today–seem commonplace and natural.

So, to answer the question of what one issue or problem that blockchain technologies might solve in healthcare today, I really can’t say. We’re right now solving many problems in the healthcare domain using all aspects of blockchain technologies–as we understand them today–and I fully expect to develop increasingly more complex solutions as we mature our understanding and use of these blockchain technologies. Some really great enterprise-grade solutions that exist in healthcare today that couldn’t otherwise exist without utilizing aspects of blockchain technologies include the Synaptic Health Alliance , which seeks to identify efficiencies in sharing provider credentialing across payer groups, and the recent collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim and IBM to develop a more effective, higher quality, and safer clinical trials workflow in Canada.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in five years? 

I very much believe that our understanding of blockchain technologies, and even the technologies themselves, are extremely immature. Consider us at a version 1.0 in the industry. There’s tremendous room to grow here. So, even over this next year, and further into the future, my expectation is that we’ll be developing and implementing blockchain technologies that–while fundamentally recognizable as what we know today–will be significantly improved across many domains including: 

Governance: From nothing today to something tangible and operationally effective, opening up blockchain technologies to a much broader spectrum of customers and industries that simply cannot operate without established governance strategies in place

Understanding: We, as implementers, will have gained experience, and from that experience, wisdom, in how best to make use of these unique technologies

Systems: Better, faster, safer systems are on the horizon thanks to much easier systems-level integration and interoperability. Operationally, performance and scalability will be at parity to more contemporary solutions. And underlying encryption and credentialing technologies will continue to improve, making for an increasingly frictionless implementation experience.

What is the HC-SIG working on currently? Any new developments to share? 

The Hyperledger Healthcare Special Interest Group (HC-SIG) is designed around the personal and professional interests of our international membership. We maintain two fundamental tiers of engagement to keep members informed of activities within and across the SIG:

  • HC-SIG General: Our “front door” to newer members joining the SIG, as well as a more cross-cutting view of the work that we do in our subgroups and ad hoc teams
  • Subgroups and Teams: Key to developing actionable solutions within this SIG,  each subgroup and team focuses on a special area of interest driven by their respective charter/mission statement

With that said, here’s a quick summary of the work being done across our HC-SIG subgroups and teams:

  • Patient/Member Subgroup: Developing patient-centric blockchain technologies solutions. A past solution focused around the implementation of a supply-chain solution developed around the safe distribution of donor milk across healthcare stakeholders. More recently, the subgroup is investigating patient-based access to longitudinal healthcare data.
  • Payer Subgroup: Focused around the payer component of the patient-payer-provider triad in healthcare. The subgroup is developing a white paper that defines a decision support workflow for the successful implementation of blockchain solutions.
  • Healthcare Interoperability Subgroup: Our newest subgroup, with plans to develop a proof-of-concept (POC) that takes a clinical use-case and integrates the policies, transactions and interoperable, clinical knowledge artifacts (assets) into a distributed solution.
  • Academic Research Team: Developing approaches to better present blockchain technologies to academic institutions such that healthcare stakeholders that rely upon and value independent, peer reviewed journals might gain a more objective and trusting understanding of these technologies
  • Use Case Development Team: Developing use cases within the context of the healthcare industry to model blockchain technologies implementation best practices

What’s the most important milestone for the Hyperledger HC-SIG to reach by the end of 2019? 

The HC-SIG exists to engage, educate, and interoperate with our membership. While the charters/mission statements of each of our HC-SIG subgroups and teams differ accordingly, growing and maturing our understanding of membership needs, and how best we might serve them, is fundamental and primary to our ongoing success as a worldwide community of healthcare professionals.

Why should someone participate in the group? Why is it important for Hyperledger to encourage collaboration around adopting blockchain technologies in this industry?

I’m often asked this question of “why should I participate?” and my answer is always this: active membership in the HC-SIG puts you in touch with the unprecedented resource of over 1,000 people around the world who are pre-filtered to have an active interest in healthcare technologies/IT, and then filtered again by their interests/knowledge in applying blockchain technologies to this industry. It’s really a pretty amazing group of professionals who come together every couple of weeks to help one another discuss and solve difficult problems in their respective healthcare communities.

What are a few ways people can participate in and contribute to the HC-SIG? 

As mentioned before, the HC-SIG is designed around the personal and professional interests of our membership. We provide many opportunities for focusing specific interests on blockchain technologies solutions in healthcare either through our HC-SIG subgroups or our ad hoc teams. And, in the spirit of a true open access, open source community, if members don’t see something that interests them, they have full authority and leadership support to develop a new subgroup or team that appeals to them. It’s almost a certainty that there will be others with similar interests who would love to participate in that new idea, whatever it may be.

How can people get involved in the HCSIG? 

This group is run as an open community effort and everyone is welcome to get involved.  The group has regular meetings, a mailing list and a chat channel. For each of these you are welcome to join, introduce yourself, ask questions and take part in the discussion.  There is no invitation necessary and you can simply follow the information on the group wiki to learn how to get involved in the calls, the list and the chat.

Photo credit: CB Bell Media