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DHS advances blockchain standards with startup investments

The Department of Homeland Security is investing in five startups to support blockchain-based solutions that control counterfeiting and forgery. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) issued Phase 1 awards:

  • MATTR Ltd. will build a software-as-a-service platform for verifiable credential issuance, verification and storage to help U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services digitally issue and validate essential work and task licenses.
  • Mesur IO will enhance Customs and Border Protection’s visibility of international food supply chains from farm to point of purchase to improve food safety.
  • Spherity GmbH will use its digital-twin binding technology to enhance CBP’s ability to trace packages from internet purchase to consumer.
  • SecureKey Technologies will develop an alternative to the Social Security number that is globally unique, meaningless and verifiable to support the DHS Privacy Office’s SSN Collection and Use Reduction initiative.
  • Mavennet Systems will digitally trace natural gas supply chains between Canada and the U.S.

In November 2019, Mavannet and SecureKey Technologies were granted DHS funding for their projects. Mavennet received a $182,700 proof-of-concept award to create a generic end-to-end platform CBP could use to track any variety of imported commodities. The platform included automation and application programming interface integration, as well as the ability to adapt to legacy systems, according to DHS.

SecureKey Technologies’ award was for adapting its Verified.Me identity network solution for disaster recovery, fraud prevention, monitoring and other use cases to support the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“SVIP, thru its investments, is motivating and shaping product development of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies to ensure that a foundation of security, privacy, and interoperability exists when those capabilities are deployed to meet DHS’s unique specifications and needs,” SVIP Technical Director Anil John said. “Our end goal is to develop architecture and standards that will enable relevant organizations and agencies to choose their own technologies and IT infrastructures, particularly when they need to interoperate with DHS.”

“On any given day, CBP screens more than a million travelers coming in and out of the country and more than $7.3 billion worth of imported products -- which is no easy task,” CBP Director of Business Transformation and Innovation Vincent Annunziato said. “Once these standards are successfully implemented, we will be able to work more effectively with both relevant DHS agencies and contractors to ensure interoperable and secure digital issuances, validations, and verifications of ID, supplier, product, logistics and other shipment data from start to finish.”

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