Shane DeconinckShane Deconinck is a researcher in applied computer science at the Security & Privacy Research Group of Howest University of Applied Sciences. As the lead of the blockchain team, he's guiding their efforts on exploring the potential of these exciting new technologies. We asked him three blockchain questions.
How is HOWEST involved in blockchain; can you tell us a bit about your (latest) developments?
At Howest we started with research and education on blockchain in 2017. We offer blockchain education to our bachelor students in Applied Computer Science on-campus in Bruges, and through distance learning to professionals. We are proud to be actively involved as a partner in the BLING Interreg project. We successfully developed and piloted a fitness/coaching app with our project partner city of Roeselare. Currently, we are entering the testing phase of a pilot to make ridesharing easier and safer. And we recently had the kick-off with the city of Ghent on a pilot to bring their energy loan to the blockchain.
Which blockchain topics do you find the most interesting or promising?
Without a doubt, Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI). I'm convinced that this is the much-needed paradigm shift for us as (online) citizens. For decades, we had to rely on third parties to authenticate ourselves and manage our online presence. Thanks to blockchain technology, decentralized self-sovereign identity models shift the locus of control to the individual identity owner, who can now interact as a full peer with everyone else without depending on the tech giants.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned so far by working together with international partners in this European project?
Being part of BLING allows us to expand our views on the technological possibilities and the wide array of use cases. But the most valuable lesson for me is the importance of building awareness for non-technical citizens. Blockchain technology offers many opportunities for governments and citizens, but it's crucial to communicate these clearly to spark demand and adoption. As it is a very technical topic, it takes a lot of patience and creativity to achieve this.