Blockchain solutions for the refugee crisis - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Feb. 14, 2018 12:51 pm

Blockchain solutions for the refugee crisis

Tuesday's Peace Innovation TechTalks proved it's not as far-fetched as it might seem.

Attendees discuss solutions at the Peace Innovation TechTalks event, Feb. 13, 2018.

(Photo courtesy of Grand Central Tech)

Ever attend an event or watch a movie where you lose track of time only to emerge hours later to wonder, “Did that much time just fly by? That was mind expanding!”

Tuesday’s Peace Innovation TechTalks was one of those days.

The event, held at Grand Central Tech, was one of those time-warping events filled with ideas, global challenges, informed perspectives and hard-won experience — all centered on the topic of how blockchain technology might contribute to solving some of the world’s most challenging problems.

No small agenda here.

The stated mandate, according to organizers, was to “explore potential and opportunities of blockchain solutions to make a lasting impact on peace building, humanitarian efforts and sustainable development in very practical terms.”

Over the brief four-hour meeting the free-ranging discussion touched on the problems the United Nations, the Peace Innovation Foundation and many NGOs are working on:

  • Personal Identification: How can a refugee re-establish verified identity when their original documents are lost, destroyed or had to be abandoned?
  • Medical Supply Chain: How can perishable medical supplies be reliably delivered while they are still effective?
  • Asset Management: How can you transfer money and be assured that fraud and corruption doesn’t divert it from it’s intended recipient?
  • Certificate Verification: How can you easily verify credentials, medical training for example, of workers  trained at various international institutions?

The attendees included U.N. representatives, university-housed tech accelerators, blockchain startups and Brooklyn’s very own ConsenSys, represented by Juan Llanos, the company’s fintech and regulations lead. He pointed to ConsenSys companies working on some of these very problems. Among them are: uPort, which provides a platform that lets users control their identities and developers determine how these identities integrate with other systems; and Balanc3, a blockchain-based accounting platform. Imagine if Enron had been on this kind of verifiable system? The name Enron wouldn’t resonate in quite the same way it does now.

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“It’s good to see supranational organizations such as the U.N. get interested in a technology that, as a coordinating mechanism that transcends borders and promotes transparency and accountability, is so aligned with their goals,” Llanos said.

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