Billon Group received a £50,000 grant in the Fast Start Competition by Innovate UK to build a distributed ledger platform to store COVID-19 related certificates to support workers’ safe return to the workplace.
By the end of August, Billon will provide a fully functioning prototype for publishing, sharing and verifying a wide array of workplace training or medical test documents as a back-end system for any company or governmental issuer of certificates.
With businesses and governments around the world struggling to limit the health and economic impact of the pandemic, the solution addresses three key challenges:
• How to prove who has completed training or has a test result (including linking multiple certificates to an identity),
• How to ensure the privacy of individual’s personal health and work records, and
• How to provide proof in a hands-free or reduced contact manner.
David Putts, Chief Growth Officer of Billon, comments: Billon wants to do its part to get employees back to work safely and for the economy to stay open. With this project, we want to encourage companies and health organisations to provide proper training and testing and to take advantage of new blockchain and identity management technology to equip people to prove they have an authentic certificate -- while hiding private data from those that would exploit it. We need solutions that protect people and their data. This project will deliver such a solution.
The prototype aims to be a plug-and-play solution that augments any existing issuer of a certificate by providing the distributed ledger innovation behind the scenes. Companies will be able to connect their existing systems via APIs, so there would be minimal integration. Users would be able to control their certificates on their mobile phones and show them, when needed, in a user-friendly way.
Public bodies, such as health organizations, could certify essential standards for returning to work -- for example, that a worker has completed specialized training or has medically established COVID-19 immunity. Companies who train their workers, such as airlines, can issue certificates. Issuers of other professional, vocational or education certificates, diplomas, licenses, certified statements and other documents can also make use of Billon’s distributed ledger technology to ensure workplace safety. The goal is to allow certificate holders to safely go back to work while businesses have certainty that employees undertook required training or tests.
It’s an approach similar to that taken by other Billon clients, including the Polish credit reporting bureau BIK, energy company Tauron, and the Polish chapter of IEEE, which all use Billon’s trusted document management system to store and publish high-value documents on-chain.
While global debate continues over the privacy implications of many other approaches to pandemic tracking, the Billon solution uniquely applies distributed ledger (blockchain) technology to deliver immutable, tamper-free solutions designed to comply with GDPR and other privacy regulations. Certificates are linked to the identity of the user, encrypted with keys that only the user and the issuer can use so that other companies using the platform, or even the network administrator, cannot see any private data.
Another unique trait of the approach is that document validity can be programmed for a specific duration or other guidelines. The ledger ensures that each certificate will be automatically updated as the pandemic situation evolves.
Against the backdrop of ongoing social distancing, Billon’s ability to make documents available for trusted verification without the need for personal contact could reduce administrative burdens and overcome obstacles to re-employment. The ability to ensure quick and trusted verification is also key to providing a safe environment for everyone, limiting the spread of the virus.
Billon is one of 800 projects selected from more than 8,600 applications to the Fast Start Competition launched in April by Innovate UK. Grants provide technology and research-focused businesses resources to develop new ways to work; to build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport; and to support people at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Other projects to benefit from the funding include virtual reality training platforms for surgeons, virtual farmers’ markets and other innovations born of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK, comments: Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation. The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.