BadgeChain Newsletter #4 – Digital Provenance – Decentralizing Authenticity

April 20th, 2017 | Carla Casilli and Kerri Lemoie

What springs to mind when someone mentions the word provenance? Art, antiquities, jewelry, and possibly wine. But if your mind doesn’t immediately jump to items from “Antiques Roadshow” you may also have considered digital assets such as music, videos, photos, online art, and writing.

Provenance, as it’s typically understood, tracks origin and history of ownership. In the digital world, provenance performs a few more neat tricks: in addition to making it possible to verify an asset’s origin and life stages, e.g., beginning state, evolution, remixes, and current state, it can be used to track physical assets, to enhance supply chain management, to support information sharing for media, and to address issues affecting content attribution and licensing.

With this much development potential, provenance is becoming a bit of a blockchain cottage industry. Everledger is using it to track high value assets including diamonds and wine. IBM, as part of Hyperledger, have created Fabric, a consortium-based blockchain framework exploring supply chain management. Mediachain provides peer-to-peer information sharing for a wide range of media. And finally, the Interplanetary Database (IPDB) in conjunction with the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) and Filecoin have founded community-driven COALA IP to focus on content attribution and licensing.

But where is all of this blockchain-based interest in provenance coming from? Simple. Decentralized technologies offer affordances that are a near perfect fit for complicated issues: permanent data storage, immutability, and computational structure that can track changes down to the pixel. It’s nearly impossible for siloed cloud-based services to supply this level of trust and control. What’s more, decentralized technologies free peer-to-peer interactions from central governing authorities.

All in all, we believe that provenance and decentralized technologies are worth tracking. 🙂

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Here are the articles that inspired and informed this newsletter. We recommend them to you as interesting data points in your consideration of education and decentralized technologies.



BadgeChain Newsletter #3 – Blockchain, Healthcare, and Privacy

April 6th, 2017 | Carla Casilli

Health information sits at the precarious intersection of confidential information (including diagnoses and treatment), personal privacy issues, and regulatory compliance. Ever since the 1996 Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), our Protected Health Information (PHI) has felt—to a degree—safe from prying eyes. Nonetheless, nearly everything about health records is complicated, including their privacy implications and laws and regulations governing their access and use.

Indeed, two specific federal rules apply to their security and privacy: 1) the HIPAA Security Rule and 2) the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The Privacy Rule applies to general health information (PHI) and the Security Rule applies to electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). ePHI is both a potential bevy of medically useful big data and also an electronic security danger zone.

Here’s where blockchain technologies, and perhaps more specifically, distributed ledgers, can play securing and structuring roles. Securing in that information can be kept private through personal keys, and structuring in that information can be segmented and categorized. Current explorations of these new technologies focus on the patient: their ownership and agency, in order to increase their ability to make informed decisions about their health records. Along the same lines, consideration is also being given to healthcare provider audiences, e.g., primary care physicians and emergency responders. Their access to patient-approved information contained on continuously updated distributed ledgers may improve patient outcomes since they would provide more complete, up-to-date snapshots of current treatments and prescriptions.

Blockchain and related technologies provide no magic cure, however. As along with these new technological developments and future deployments comes a massive need for informational campaigns to educate vastly different audiences of a variety of complicated options. That said, healthcare record keeping is ripe for this type of innovation.

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Here are the articles that inspired this newsletter. We recommend them to you as interesting data points in your consideration of blockchain technologies and healthcare.