Interview #7 Tom KettelsSince January 2020, Infrachain is partner in the Horizon 2020 project Token. The Token project aims to ease the adoption of Decentralized Ledger Technologies (DLT) to create a more open, transparent, trusted and efficient government. BLING and Token thus share some similarities and therefore the BLING project interviewed Tom Kettels, Operational Lead at Infrachain, to discuss our shared challenges and possibilities.
´Blockchain status is similar to the Internet in the 70's`
Hi Tom, can you tell a bit about your company Infrachain?
Infrachain is a Luxembourg based non-profit organization. We are a blockchain community and we provide community-driven governance for operational blockchain use. This means that we are a network of different blockchain-interested companies and institutions from the legal, business, technical and academic sector who aim to bridge the gap between public and private Blockchain.
What is your personal interest in blockchain?
Blockchain and Distributed Leger Technologies in general are interesting because there is a high degree of automation and it links different technologies such as big data, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things together. Other technologies are able to share huge amounts of data, but the parties that share the data need to trust each other. With blockchain, parties do not need to trust each other as the trust is provided through the blockchain thanks to its immutability. Blockchain can kick off new processes and keep an immutable record of what happened. For example, AI based systems use data as input and produce outputs that can trigger actions coded in a smart contract - basically a small script that executes action X if situation A occurs. A blockchain is a ledger. Besides providing the execution environment for these smart contracts, blockchain has a notary function. It provides an immutable record of anything that is registered onto it. Blockchain is thus more than just sharing data.
What can be the added value of Blockchain for governments?
The decentralized structure of blockchain creates an environment in which data needs to be entered only once. This reduces the risk of human errors. By decentralizing the information, all organizations linked to the blockchain can use the same input, and are not dependent on the data in their silos. This improves efficiency and transparency. For example, when a applying for a building permit, all municipal departments can have access to the same data and this data could also be made available to the public in case a public consultation is required or to third parties, like the construction company you selected.
Blockchain can be of a real added value to governments due to its efficiency and transparency, but there are also still some challenges to overcome. An often heard issue is the compliance of blockchain with the GDPR. Since data on the blockchain is immutable, personal data that would have been registered in a blockchain cannot be changed or deleted. This is in conflict with GDPR’s right to be forgotten. I am optimistic however, that one day blockchain and GDPR will be compatible as technology evolves and legislation changes. So far, we are missing jurisprudence on this issue. The legal aspects of blockchain are often uncertain, like for example the legal recognition of data notarized in a blockchain, and such questions need to be clarified before governments can integrate in their services.
What is the goal of the TOKEN project?
Token is a Horizon 2020 project in which 11 partners from 8 member states work together to create a transformative impact in public services with DLTs. We will set up an experimental ecosystem in the public sector in which blockchain can serve as a service for specific use cases. We will investigate four use cases: grant distributions via competitive open calls, mobility, smart city and public procurement. Together with knowledge institutions, technical partners and local governments we are developing these use cases, but we are also building a community. Our DLT4Gov community is open to everyone interested in blockchain and together we connect and share knowledge on how DLT can impact public organizations. You can join the community via this link: https://fundingbox.com/c/dlt4gov and you can find more information on the TOKEN project via this link: https://token-project.eu/
Which similarities are shared between BLING! and TOKEN?
Both projects address the same issue: how can blockchain contribute to the services governments provide. Since BLING is already up and running, TOKEN could learn from their approaches. On the other hand, TOKEN focusses on four use cases which are highly replicable. This could possibly help BLING to further develop their current use cases. And of course, both projects have established an interesting field of stakeholders of which we can both benefit.
Webinar: Transforming public services with DLTs – 8 July 2020
TOKEN organizes a webinar on transforming public services with DLTs by exploring inter alia how to reconcile community-based decision making with centralized power. Interesting keynote speakers such as Pēteris Zilgalvis of the European Commission and Carlo Cambucci of SIGI will address this topic, there will be presentations of the TOKEN project and IMEC and the BLING project will be part of the panel discussion. This webinar takes place on the 8th of July from 10:00-12:00 and is free for all. You can sign up here: https://infrachain.com/token-webinar