There is this thing about being in ‘Day 1’ – never being content and never losing the focus. It is interesting that there is not much discussed about ‘Year 1’ – the first year is always an interesting ride. At Dhiway, as we step into our second year, we realized how exhilarating the first year has been – where we have formed and unformed our ideas; packed and unpacked our pitches; planned and then planned again on prototypes and proof-of-concept proposals and all the while continued to grow – hit the milestones we discussed at the beginning and add new members to our team.
This journey has been a formative one. Starting with small steps towards getting the company as a legally registered entity, and from there joining the Sovrin Foundation as a Steward. Our focus on being able to participate in an impactful manner in the Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) community is based on our understanding of the power that can be unlocked when self-governance of identity is made possible. And while we started putting together the basic components of a verifiable data exchange the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in us engaging in discussions with stakeholders beyond the elements of technology. That technology is just part of the solution which includes strong governance frameworks as well as addressing the risks involved in the deployment of a Verifiable Credentials based system.
We became a founding member of The Trust over IP Foundation (ToIP) and joined a large group of organizations invested in solving the issue of trust in value exchange. We participate in a number of Working Groups and Task Forces because of our commitment to the need to establish a digital trust framework at global scale over the public internet. Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) continue to do yeoman work in harmonizing and codifying the requirement specifications which make this work. ToIP pulls together a massively networked set of members who focus on the practical side of this – of making it work for the end customer and ensuring that the experience is solid enough to raise confidence and quell doubts.
We have gained good knowledge through the cyclical activities of proof-of-concept and prototype creations. For instance, we realized that it is absolutely critical to identify the roles and processes within any system undergoing digital transformation using the 4 Layer framework like those available from ToIP. We also learnt that the success in evolving traditional identity based systems to decentralized ones require us to focus on product and service experience – and not put SSI front and centre. We observed that there are good ways to assess the data governance models in vogue in order to propose efficiencies through the adoption of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs).
One of the interesting projects this year has been to find ways to address the trust deficit on the Internet. As digital interactions become more the normal, the reports around the number of frauds and phishing become unending. It seemed that the simple and ubiquitous Quick Response (QR) code had been weaponized . Instead of being an easy on-ramp to the universe of digital transactions, QR was becoming a barrier to the adoption of digital payment and information exchange flows. We focused on creating an intervention that is small, simple and aimed at addressing the concerns being reported. SEQR is a QR scanner app that provides contextual information about the object being scanned. Our goal with this app has been to create an awareness that additional information allows for better and informed decision making. When the information context is based on analysis of the object (or URL) it helps the user of the app (and the consumer of the service) to pause for a moment and think. We feel that introduction of this nudge helps avoid becoming targets for various scams and cons.
Meanwhile we were featured as a ‘Startup Of The Year’ on the CIO Insider issue.
Year 2 is exciting. There are project go-live on the calendar with a set of customers who are building out data exchange and provenance models at scale. But more importantly, Year 2 is where we drive specific business opportunities and use cases to make impactful changes with technology. From the outset our purpose has been to enable improvements in how we lead lives and the quality of such lives. As high-speed Internet in the form of 5G, a plethora of edge devices through proliferation of Internet of Things (IoTs) and computational data processing becomes more off-the-shelf, the idea that the internet is supposed to form an extensive net of assistive technologies will become more real. Exchanging data at massive scale brings about the need to have secure channels which can establish the veracity of the data stream. As well as being able to have digital representation of the entities generating the data. These approaches also allow us to explore the concepts of fairness, equity and rights when considering data exchange protocols in the digital world. We cannot look at identity, identification and identifiers in isolation and not consider the significance of the changes in information technology architecture and design that is happening around us. These improvements which enable assistive interventions through machine learning and artificial intelligence also demand better governance of data using identifiers and privacy-respecting frameworks.
As local regulations around data privacy take form there is opportunity to bring about improvements which were until recently not possible. We see Year 2 as one of the cycles of innovation – we continue to iterate through business opportunities to build the playbook of deployment strategies; governance toolkits and an ecosystem of application services.
It is Day 1 again.