With growing awareness of the disruptive potential blockchain technology represents for virtually every industry, it was only natural that the subject was well-covered at the 13th Ritossa Global Family Office Investment Summit in Dubai, with Bitcoin SV and showcase companies from the wider ecosystem well-represented at the event.
The Ritossa Summit, hosted by Sir Anthony Ritossa and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, welcomes an audience of extraordinarily high-net-worth individuals and their investment representatives, with a collective wealth totalling $4.5 trillion.
Bitcoin SV businesses and the innovators that lead them participated in a range of panels and sessions over the event’s three days, showcasing the massive potential for the technology to add value. The panels and presentations all had different focuses, but a clear theme emerged: better. At a summit about investing for tomorrow, the message from the Bitcoin SV contingent was that the technology provides a means to improve on the status quo.
One panel, ‘Better Communities with Blockchain: Smart Cities and the Internet of Things’, focused on the role that blockchain technology has to play in the cities of tomorrow.
Simit Naik, director of business services at leading blockchain research and development firm, nChain, pointed to one particular example – Geospock – an extreme-scale data integration company, with a focus on geospatial data.
‘Blockchain can help in two key areas. First, blockchain gives you a very secure, very transparent way of maintaining data integrity. We can use the blockchain to ensure the integrity of the data that exists within a geospatial database,’ Naik explained.
‘Second, Geospock captures data about events. Every event has the potential to be valuable information and those events themselves trigger other events. They might be payment events – and what we are doing using blockchain is adding the payment layer on top. The fact that Bitcoin SV allows us to use micropayments means that it’s possible to do payments of fractions of a cent or lower at every single event, which makes it possible for us to do real-time payments with real-time event data.’
‘One example is the event data being captured by road sensors in Singapore being used to trigger payments, so that every time you drive a car down the road, rather than paying a yearly tax, you might pay-per-use. All of that can be done in real-time directly on the blockchain.’
Experiential reality (XR) developer Transmira was also represented on the panel, with an appearance by CEO Robert Rice. Like Geospock, Transmira’s flagship product Omniscape also leverages location-based data – this time however to create commercial campaigns and experiences for commercial brands, businesses and smart cities.
‘We are in data-rich environments,’ explained Rice. ‘What we are doing [with Transmira] is going from data, to information, to knowledge – and then ultimately, to experience.”
In talking about the applications of blockchain technology, data is the recurrent factor common to all discussions. As such, the next panel shifted the focus from communities to business, debating how Bitcoin SV’s data management capabilities will lead to better business outcomes. The session welcomed business leaders from across the Bitcoin SV ecosystem to discuss the application of blockchain technology in the context of data management.
‘What we see in the seafood industry is that very little is digitised; a lot of manual work is done,’ he explained.
‘Seafoodchain is our industry solution for the seafood industry. What we provide with our supply chain management solution are tools to improve the quality of the product and also help to prove the sustainability and provenance of the product.’
In a given supply chain, vast quantities of data are produced by every link and actor involved. This is especially true in the case of seafood, but is the same for virtually every industry – and will only become more true as global supply chains continue to lengthen and grow in complexity over time.
‘We are collecting information from every step in the supply chain – from the DNA of the fish eggs, how it has been brought up, harvested, slaughtered, all the way to being transported to the restaurant,’ Nilsson explained, before raising a secondary benefit of the blockchain-based approach.
‘By taking these small pieces of information and putting it on the blockchain, the actors within the supply chain can also monetise this information,’ he said.
‘They can buy and sell small pieces of information – temperature, weight, location – and start selling them to other actors in the supply chain. The fisherman can monetise the information of how he caught the fish, at what time and what location, all of which can be used throughout the supply chain.’
nChain helps industries create blockchain solutions so that companies can get more out of their data. Naik talked about another example of the data management capabilities driving positive EHR Data, which takes this idea and applies it to healthcare, arguably one sector with perhaps the most to gain from the data management revolution offered by blockchain.
‘The first principle for the [EHR Data] project was to eliminate data silos – make it easy for people to get this single source of the truth for all healthcare information related to the patient. The next stage is monetising it and increasing the value of that data for the patient themselves – EHR Data make it easy for the patient to own that data, permission the data and share the data with other healthcare organisations across the world,’ explained Naik, adding:
‘We see data as being the most valuable commodity of the 21st century.’
Building Better Government
Of course, if blockchain has all of this to offer to private enterprises, it can offer many of the same benefits to governments. Government administration is, in many cases, a matter of data management: in theory, the customer base for a government is the general population, meaning that the amount of data concerned can be enormous.
In setting the scene for the panel he was moderating, ‘Better Government with Blockchain’, Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen said: ‘The purpose of this panel is to talk about how private enterprises – often the ones developing the blockchain technology – can work with government agencies to deliver solutions that benefit the public good. A lot of the key blockchain applications in this region are being driven by the government.’
Muhammad Salman Anjum, managing director of the Bin Zayed Group, agreed, saying: ‘the biggest use cases of enterprise blockchain are in the public sector. Who is the biggest beneficiary of blockchain? Governments. Why? Because they need trust. What brings trust? Blockchain. This is a match made in heaven.’
Governments perform many services for their citizens, so potential impact points for blockchain technology are aplenty. At the same time, governments are oftentimes not as agile as private corporations, so affecting wholesale change can be a slower process.
‘You need to go step by step: small use cases, then to the critical ones such as IDs, and then to the ones that can change the fate of the country,’ explained Anjum.
Ahmed Yousuf, digital transformation lead at the Holy Makkah Municipality in Saudi Arabia, was on the panel to provide the government perspective on innovation.
‘For us, when we looked at blockchain, it made us realise the impact it could have in the short and long-term future based on the challenges and real business problems we are facing in daily life,’ he said.
‘One of the problems is that people in the government view blockchain as limited to one application [digital currencies] and they start challenging the idea of how we can use it to provide services. In response, we’ve started to bring use-cases, saying “let’s look at the whole fabric and ask how we can implement the entire infrastructure based on an ecosystem of problems and an ecosystem of solutions.”
The key to a sustainable world
Later in the day, Nguyen gave a presentation centred on how blockchain technology can be a key driver towards a sustainable future, pointing to three use case companies from the Bitcoin SV ecosystem already laying the foundation.
The first was Weather SV, a platform which allows users to record a stream of climate data directly to the blockchain. This data is publicly available and the intention is, over time, to create data marketplaces that can be used to provide a universal source of climate and weather information that can, in turn, be used to paint a complete picture of weather data.
Recycle SV is another company making sustainability their business, with the Scotland-based start-up using data to incentivise recycling. Their mobile app, aptly named Recycle SV, can be used to scan barcodes or QR codes from packaging and confirm that it has been dropped off at a recycling location, where it is also scanned. This creates a data economy surrounding the recycling process, providing useful measurables to decision-makers, while also opening the door for those doing the recycling to be incentivised for doing so.
Predict Ecology is an Australian data looking at various ways to improve the environment with blockchain, with one project in the works using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors on trees to record data in Cairns, Australia. These sensors can be used to track a litany of data, with one example currently under consideration using the technology to record the carbon dioxide emissions of a particular tree and then translate that into an estimate of the energy savings generated by preserving that tree.
Better healthcare with blockchain
Any industry that relies heavily on data has the potential to be directly and significantly improved by blockchain technology. Healthcare is an industry which not only produces and relies on vast amounts of data, but one where any improvements to the status quo is likely to have immediate tangible benefits to the wellbeing of society.
Muhammad Salman Anjum is managing director of the Bin Zayed Group, who have been developing a blockchain-based COVID management system:
‘COVID has been the problem of 2020; the right thinking is to solve this problem of 2020 with the technology of 2020,’ he said.
‘Webapps, legacy databases – these are the technologies of 10, 20, 30 years back. We have contemporary technology. Now, I think the technology is mature enough and we can come up with a production-grade solution. COVID is the current challenge to the whole world – the frontline healthcare workers can’t solve it on their own – they need aid.’
Anjum pointed to the multitude of interrelated use cases for blockchain to deliver a comprehensive means for managing COVID response, including, of course, vaccines.
‘Vaccinations will be the largest supply chain operation in the world. The timeline has to be accurate – we don’t have years, here, it must be done in the span of maybe six months. The management system is required to plan, procure, prioritise distribution and execute the operation,’ he said.
‘You can’t deal with any wrong information for this product – and there will be plenty who claim to have a vaccination, looking to make quick money. If you don’t have a trust layer – the whole chain of custody not on blockchain – such things will keep on happening.’
Ron Austring, Chief Scientist at EHR Data, focused on the problems which are created by a healthcare system founded on countless repositories of siloed data sources, oftentimes which concern the same subjects, yet remain inconsistent and incompatible with one another.
‘At EHR Data, we’re taking all of the healthcare data silos in the US and we are combining that into a single silo. What that allows is to do is track all medical services across all those different industries,’ he said.
‘When a patient goes to the pharmacy to fulfil a prescription for an opioid drug, that record gets stored in a secured encrypted format. We write the hash of that data to the blockchain and to an archival node so that it can never be destroyed or tampered with.’
Once data is on the blockchain, it can be relied on and then used to provide actionable information, whether that’s to decision-makers or the patients themselves.
One specific implementation of this which EHR Data is developing relates to the opioid crisis, an area which Austring says is being held back by the widely distributed and independent sources of healthcare data. With healthcare data in one repository, more long-term data can be analysed, such as the level of morphine being consumed by a patient who is fulfilling multiple opiate prescriptions.
Phillip Runyan, director of blockchain data hygiene company Veridat, which is currently developing solutions in the clinical research space, also commented on the silo effect:
‘The issue at hand is data integrity. As a manufacturer, do I have all of the data, unadulterated, from multiple silos? Do I have a full view to make smart decisions to advance drug development or pump the breaks on it? As a regulatory body, do I have all the information from a drug manufacturer and do I know that it is accurate? Is it whole? These things are incredibly important, and our service solves these concerns and more,’ he said.
Runyan pointed to recent examples from China. One particular story saw a person in China who had been repeatedly caught bribing officials to get his vaccines and other pharmaceuticals approved. In a world where data is immutable and cannot be fabricated, this isn’t an issue.
Investing in Blockchain
Jimmy Nguyen took one final opportunity to address the audience and drive home the point that blockchain investments are being used to help build a better future.
‘Blockchain technology is the biggest technology leap of our lifetime since the internet, but most people don’t fully understand why,’ he said.
‘The answer lies in data, and the ability of data to create a better world for ourselves if we can better optimise, manage access and monetise data.’
To illustrate this, he presented the figures being generated by Singapore’s IoT road network, which tracks 160,000 road trips every hour, 4,000,000 in a day and 1.4 billion in a year. Collectively, this data accounts for 1.3 trillion rows and 108 terabytes worth of data.
At such massive scale, problems with data collection and analysis are amplified. This is where blockchain technology and in particular, Bitcoin SV, can step in and make a difference. The removal of intermediaries vastly reduces the scope for data error and eliminates the need for trust between third parties. Data no longer needs to be siloed, but can be stored in a single, verifiable repository. Data transactions can be paired seamlessly with data, creating incentives for the creation and sharing of data across the ecosystem.