Factom Looking into Blockchain Capabilities for DHS
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $192,380 to Factom, Inc., a start-up based in Austin, Texas, to begin beta testing of a capability that uses blockchain technology to secure Internet of Things (IoT) data, according to a DHS announcement. The award was part of the fourth and final phase of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). Factom will explore the opportunities to use blockchain technology with sensors, cameras and other critical infrastructure, to protect the integrity and authenticity of data collected by the devices. The company will develop capabilities that can integrate with existing IoT devices, instead of requiring the creation of blockchain-specific technology. DHS exaplined that blockchain capabilities will be a key advancement for IoT-related data, as blackchain techologies are highly resistant to data modification. "Transactions in a blockchain network are recorded as blocks of information in a chronological chain of data," the agency said. "Each chain is copied and kept synchronized across multiple nodes, or computers, making the system highly resilient to attacks or data loss. Data can be added to a blockchain, but no information in it can be modified retroactively or deleted without alerting users." Factom’s previous work has informed architecture choices and design decisions inherent in integrating blockchain with existing technologies, stated Anil John, S&T Identity Management Research and Development Program Manager. “In Phase IV, Factom will deploy this technology in a realistic field environment with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to understand its operational impacts,” he said.
The final phase of the SVIP project will see Factom testing its capability in an outside environment with limited internet connectivity and in varied weather conditions to mimic the conditions under which U.S. Border Patrol agents operate. Factom’s goal is to demonstrate how IoT devices can maintain a high standard of reliability while eliminating the ability to spoof, modify or disrupt data from ground sensors and cameras. The end objective is to produce a commercially viable product ready to enter the market, DHS stated. “Operational testing in a realistic U.S. Border Patrol environment will greatly benefit the development of this technology,” said Melissa Ho, SVIP Managing Director. “SVIP’s goal is to partner with companies to produce the best possible market-ready products that address homeland security needs and we feel that this project could reach that point.” DHS stressed noted companies participating in the SVIP are eligible for up to $800,000 in non-dilutive funding over four phases to adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use-cases.