Blockchain technology offers more than cryptocurrencies
What is blockchain technology?
Lecturer Jeffrey Cornelissen works with students on various blockchain projects in the Fontys ICT InnovationLab. He is often asked what the blockchain is: "Actually we are talking about a new kind of database, in which you store transactions. You traditionally do that in a database, but the blockchain offers new possibilities in terms of transparency and security. What makes it different is the validation of a transaction by multiple users from a unique device. This is recorded in a block. This is then linked to other blocks, creating a chain - the blockchain. This is done by means of encryption."
Continuity and transparency
The method of storage in the blockchain offers a decentralised or distributed database. Data in the chain is fixed, and a change requires an adjustment throughout the chain, which makes storage more secure and transparent. Cornelissen: "That's how you ensure continuity, which we now know mainly from digital currencies, but you could also use it for contracts, property deeds or diplomas. Researching those applications is what we do." Fontys University of Applied Sciences ICT students are currently working on various projects, which explore the possibilities of blockchain technology.
Project: LISK DAO - management automation
Imagine that decision-making can take place via a decentralised system? This is particularly interesting for dynamic collaborations, with different partners. We call this a DAO, a decentralised autonomous organisation. Together with the LISK Center Utrecht we have started a project to build a blockchain application for this, explains Cornelissen: "A DAO can enable organizations to automate their management. We're exploring how you can realize a DAO through side-chains, branches in your main blockchain. This is very interesting for recording decision making, but also for corporate accounts. After all, a side-chain can also be cleaned up." The possibilities are diverse for organisations that want to work in a different way. In fact, in theory, a DAO makes it possible to be much more flexible and self-managing in processes.
Project: Smart Contracts Made Easy
A second ongoing project concerns WMO applications, specifically for taxi rides. Can the blockchain help to make the application process transparent and check financial conditions (and automate the decision process)? To answer this question, we are collaborating with Rising Internet Technologies, RegioTaxi and the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, says Cornelissen: "If someone who is entitled to WMO requests a taxi ride, is it still within the quota? Or is there an urgency that allows the taxi to drive? This is a difficult process for municipalities, which is subject to a complex legal framework of preconditions. Smart contracts' offer an automated solution that makes intermediaries and separate data processing unnecessary. Through practice-based research into the feasibility of a blockchain application such as this, students and researchers are exploring the potential of the technology for better healthcare. Which, of course, also translates to wider deployment.
Thanks to cooperation with an extensive partner network, Fontys University of Applied Sciences ICT works closely with various disciplines. These partners bring practice-oriented research questions regarding ICT innovation to students and researchers. This makes the Fontys ICT InnovationLab an important knowledge hub in the Brainport region.