Building on IBM’s Blockchain
SGE, the international education services development subsidiary of Sony, will use IBM’s Blockchain to develop a platform that will allow educational institutions to host the entire educational history of a student. The aim is to thereby give companies and educational authorities a means to access and verify accurate information about a person’s credentials.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain technology operates using the IBM cloud and is powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 of Linux Foundation. Blockchain is an incorruptible peer-to-peer network (a kind of ledger) that allows multiple parties to transfer value in a secure and transparent way. Blockchain’s Co-Founder Nic Carey describes Blockchain as being like “a big spreadsheet in the cloud that anyone can use, but no one can erase or modify”.
The developers of the Blockchain system say that the trust between participants is not necessary because trust is embedded in the system itself, and that access to all relevant information is available to participants.
Blockchain is the same technology behind cryptocurrencies e.g. Bitcoin, and it is now being applied to new industries and sectors, like education.
Digital Hub For Education Records…And More
The new Sony system will be a hub for all education records, including a variety of documents, such as informal records of achievements, and credentials gained during training or seminars. This hub will be securely accessible to organisations that need to verify education information about individuals from the educational institution.
Anytime, Anywhere Access
Users who want to move to other areas or work in other parts of the world will benefit from Sony’s Blockchain-based system because it will be accessible anytime, anywhere, and will standardise and prove the authenticity of scholastic records easily. This means that users with access to the Blockchain-based service will be able to effectively carry their education history with them wherever they are, in a system that any organisation can gain access to.
SGE has said that it has developed this system to prevent fraud while giving access to third parties who will need information for job interviews and assessments.
Ready Next Year
It has been reported that SGE is working with selected educational institutions to have something ready by 2018.
Huge Potential For Blockchain
As well as working with the education sector, SGE is also reported to be exploring how Blockchain-based technology could be used to benefit other industries like logistics and supply chains.
The potential for Blockchain-based systems is huge, and examples of how they have been used in other industries include:
- Using the data on a Blockchain ledger to record the temperature of sensitive medicines being transported from manufacturer to hospital in hot climates. The ‘incorruptible’ aspect of the Blockchain data gives a clear record of care and responsibility along the whole supply chain.
- Using a Blockchain ledger to record data about wine certification, ownership and storage history. This has helped to combat fraud in the industry and has provided provenance and re-assurance to buyers.
- Shipping Company Maersk using a Blockchain-based system for tracking consignments that addresses visibility and efficiency i.e. digitising a formerly paper-based process that involved multiple interactions.
- Start-up company ‘Electron’ building a Blockchain-based system for sharing information between those involved in supplying energy which could speed up and simplify the supplier switching process. It may also be used for smart grid processes, such as local load-balancing of supply and demand.
- Australian start-up Zimrii developing a Blockchain-based service that allows independent musicians to sell downloads to fans, distribute the proceeds between collaborators, and allow interaction with managers.
A system like Sony’s could make life much easier for employers worldwide to accurately check the educational credentials of job applicants. If this kind of system was searchable (through consent) by employers and / or offered through employment agencies, it could be a great way for employers to source individuals with the qualifications they’re looking for. This kind of system would, however, have several challenges to overcome first e.g. consent, privacy, security and rights, differences in international laws, and the potential for existing employees to be poached.
Blockchain clearly has huge untapped potential for all kinds of businesses and organisations, and could represent a major opportunity to improve services, and effectively tackle visibility, transparency and efficiency issues.
Blockchain has proven itself to be particularly well suited to processes where there are a lot of steps e.g. supply chains, and where there’s a lack of trust in a business / business relationship, and the need for accurate authentication / verification.
The significant commitment that countries like Dubai have made to the technology and the success of the crypto-currency Bitcoin (which have used Blockchain) are indicators that this new technology has real value in today’s business world, and its potential has not yet been realised.