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Blockchain Portfolio

Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) are innovative technologies that have many uses and applications across multiple sectors of the economy. From the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) perspective, the technologies hold the potential for enhanced transparency and auditing of public service operations, greater supply chain visibility to combat the distribution of counterfeit products, and automation of paper-based processes to improve delivery of services to organizations and citizens. Examples include ensuring the authenticity and integrity of videos and photos from cameras, sensors, and Internet of Things devices; enhancing and facilitating international trade and customs processes; facilitating and securing passenger processing; and mitigating forgery and counterfeiting of official licenses and certificates.

The challenge with blockchain technology is the potential for the development of “walled gardens” or closed technology platforms that do not support common standards for security, privacy, and data exchange. This would limit the growth and availability of a competitive marketplace of diverse, interoperable solutions for government and industry to draw upon to deliver cost effective and innovative services based on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. As such, DHS work in Blockchain and DLT is focused on enabling support for an interoperable baseline of security and privacy across implementations by the use of open and global standards.

DHS identified numerous use cases that could be enabled by interoperable blockchain and DLT solutions, including:

  • Digitally issuing currently paper-based credentials to enhance security, ensure interoperability, and prevent forgery and counterfeiting
  • Creating immutable records and audit logs of data that cannot be spoofed, and can be publicly verified without revealing personally identifiable information
  • Supply chain traceability of steel, oil, natural gas, food and direct to consumer e-commerce shipments across international boundaries
  • Expediting passenger screening at airports by streamlining security processes
  • Privacy respecting essential work and task licenses for workers and individuals conducting essentials tasks to assert their respective eligibility.

DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), has led the Department’s effort in experimenting with blockchain and DLT solutions with emphasis on architecture, standards and interoperability to bring a level of rigor, expertise and credibility that is unique in supporting DHS Components and other partners across the U.S. government, so that homeland security applications of blockchain and DLT are effective and trusted.

Reference Articles

Feature Article: S&T's Blockchain Program Focuses on Security, Privacy, Interoperability & Standards

Blog: S&T Leading Blockchain Solution R&D for DHS Components

Congressional Testimony: “Leveraging Blockchain Technology to Improve Supply Chain Management and Combat Counterfeit Goods”

Snapshot: Blockchain Technology Explored for Homeland Security

In December 2018, DHS S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) released the initial Preventing Forgery and Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses topic call—with a follow-on release in June 2020. Both releases required portfolio companies/performers to work together as a cohort to ensure interoperability.

Through blockchain and DLT solutions, DHS seeks to address the challenges of interoperable digital entitlement attestations that support individual control and accountability of data release. Additionally, DHS looks to incorporate digital counter-fraud technologies and tactics, develop enterprise lifecycle management, and ensure a high degree of usability across service delivery modalities.

DHS operational components and programs identified common needs across their mission sets for potential use of interoperable implementations of Blockchain and DLT solutions that also support the growth and availability of a competitive marketplace of diverse technology implementations for government and industry to draw upon to deliver cost effective and innovative solutions.

The two releases sought technical capabilities to serve the mission needs of DHS Operational Components and programs including:

  • DHS Privacy Office (PRIV)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Technical Topics

  • Issuance and Verification of Certificates, Licenses and Attestations
  • Storage and Management of Certificates, Licenses and Attestations
  • Decentralized and Derived PIV Credentials

Illustrative Use Cases and Relevant DHS Component or Program

Release 1 – Solicitation Issued in December 2018; Phase 1 awards made in November 2019

  • Identity Documents for Travel (TSA)
  • Identity of Organizations and Organizational Delegates (CBP)
  • Tribal identity Documents for Travel (TSA & USCIS)
  • Citizenship, Immigration and Employment Authorization (USCIS)
  • Cross-Border Oil Import Tracking (CBP)
  • Origin of Raw Material Imports (CBP)

Release 2 – Solicitation issued in June 2020; Phase 1 awards made in September 2020

  • Alternative Identifier to the Social Security Number (PRIV)
  • Food Supply Chain Safety and Visibility (CBP)
  • Supply Chain Traceability of Natural Gas Imports (CBP)
  • Supply Chain Traceability of Direct-to-Consumer E-Commerce Shipments (CBP)
  • Privacy Respecting Essential Work and/or Task License (USCIS)

Reference Articles

DHS S&T Announces New Collaborative Blockchain Innovation Solution

DHS S&T Opens Second Solicitation for Solutions to Prevent Forgery of Certificates, Licenses

Blockchain Cohort Start-up Companies

The following lists blockchain performers along with the DHS Component(s) it supports, the current SVIP funding phase, and the project focus.

USCIS – Phase 4: Citizenship, Immigration & Employment Authorization

Danube Tech will integrate interoperability support for multiple credential data formats, blockchains, and standardized and open application programming interfaces into their existing decentralized identifier (DID) registrar and DID resolver products for credential issuance and identity verification.

Danube TechDanube Tech press release

USCIS – Phase 4: Citizenship, Immigration & Employment Authorization

Digital Bazaar will enhance their existing product offerings with enterprise workforce and credential lifecycle management features to build a viable credentialing product for large organizations.

Digital BazaarDigital Bazaar press release

USCIS – Phase 3/4: Privacy Respecting Essential Work and/or Task License

MATTR will adapt and enhance their platform by supporting privacy respecting, ledger independent selective disclosure of information and integration with existing federated identity protocols to provide a complete solution.

MATTRMATTR press release

CBP – Phase 4: Supply Chain Traceability of Natural Gas Imports

NeoFlow will enhance its Neoflow platform to enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in modernizing the processes associated with natural gas imports to provide end-to-end traceability and digital certainty to address lack of transparency in natural gas exchange; manual processes; and risk and costs arising from errors and misrepresentation.

CBP Phase 4: Cross-Border Oil Import Tracking

NeoFlow (formerly Mavennet) will enhance their product to incorporate digital auditability, enterprise lifecycle management and scalability while ensuring interoperability.

NeoFlow (formerly Mavennet)NeoFlow (formerly Mavennet Systems) press release

CBP – Phase 5: Food Supply Chain Safety and Visibility

Mesur.io will adapt Earthstream, its core technology platform, to ensure that DHS Customs and Border Protection has visibility into food supply chains from farm to point of purchase.

Mesur IOMesur IO press release

PRIV – Phase 4: Alternative Identifier to the Social Security Number

GenDigital (formerly SecureKey) will implement a standards-based system that will enable the issuance of a globally unique, meaningless but resolvable and verifiable identifier that will not reveal personally identifiable information and cannot be used for tracking purposes.

Digital Bazaar will be enhancing their solution to demonstrate a PII SSN replacement architecture for DHS Privacy Office.

USCIS – Phase 3: Citizenship, Immigration & Employment Authorization

GenDigital (formerly SecureKey) will adapt the concepts and code associated with its Verified.Me commercial strength identity network solution that offers availability, disaster recovery, fraud prevention, monitoring, and other essential operational controls to support U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services needs around the issuance and validation of identity documents for travel and employment authorization.

GenDigital (formerly SecureKey)GenDigital (formerly SecureKey) press release

CBP – Phase 1: Supply Chain Traceability of Direct-to-Consumer E-Commerce Shipments

CBP – Phase 5: Leveraging Verifiable Credentials for Advanced Imports Targeting in Steel & E-Commerce

Transmute will adapt its core technology product that leverages centralized and decentralized identity infrastructures to ensure that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has visibility into the provenance, traceability and regulatory compliance of steel imports and E-commerce.

Transmute IndustriesTransmute Industries press release

Blockchain Release 1 and 2 Cohort Technical Exchanges

On October 28–30, 2020, SVIP held a technical exchange meeting with all the awarded portfolio companies, technical representatives from CBP, USCIS, and PRIV, colleagues from the U.S Department of Education, U.S. Department of State, and the Government of Canada. Portfolio companies received privacy training from the DHS S&T Privacy Office and discussed cohort expectations, ways to effectively collaborate, and shared project goals. The co-chairs of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Credentials Community Group (CCG) also joined the discussion to provide insights into the standardization work on Decentralized Identifiers and Verifiable Credentials interoperability specifications. Additionally, portfolio companies met with representatives from U.S Department of Commerce and the U.S. General Services Administration to learn how to work with the federal government at large.

As a result of the work accomplished with the first Blockchain cohort, S&T issued a prize challenge to crowd-source user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designs for a digital wallet, or end-to-end credentialing system in September 2020. The total prize purse is $25,000 to be awarded in two stages. In October 2020, three Stage 1 finalists were selected, and each received $5,000. The Stage 2/Grand Prize winner will be announced in December 2020 and will be awarded an additional $10,000.

The Three Finalists

  • Dignari, LLC Alexandria, Virginia

  • Indicio, Inc. Washington, DC

  • Trinsic, Inc. Provo, Utah

On October 27, 2020, SVIP and Prize Competition co-hosted a virtual community engagement event. Stage 1 finalists presented their designs and received questions and feedback from the community, government and the standards community. The finalists will continue to engage with the government and standards community to gain insight into application integration and standards-based implementations for digital wallets to prepare for the final stage of the challenge. Again, grand prize winner will be announced in December 2020.

Find out more about the Digital Wallets Challenge on the S&T Prize Competition page.

Last Updated: 07/02/2024
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