The Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate of the US Department of Homeland Security is supporting four small firms with funds to use Blockchain technology to support identity management.

What are those Blockchain firms?

Digital Bazaar, Respect Network, Narf Industries and Celerity Government Solutions will all get $100,000 each. They fall under the Applicability of Blockchain Technology to Identity Management and Privacy Protection research topic.

The topic is to use Blockchain technology, which centralizes and validates new entries added into an existing data field to support identity verification.

Digital Bazaar, Inc. is developing a Linked Data ledger format and architecture to demonstrate how to publish identity credentials, while Respect Network Corporation in Washington is developing a decentralized registry and discovery service to integrate with the public Blockchain.

For Narf Industries LLC in Washington D.C., it is working to achieve an identity management solution built on a permission-less Blockchain: confidentiality (with selective information disclosure), integrity, availability, non-DHS repudiation, provenance and pseudo-anonymity.

Celerity Government Solutions, LLC, Virginia, is researching Blockchain solutions to enable users to establish and maintain trusted identity transactions with public and private organizations.

Beyond the initial $100,000 per-company SBIR award, each of these firms could get further funding based on initial project results and the projects’ scientific and commercialization potential.

What will DHS use the system for?

The SBIR proposal solicitation was released in December 2015. It included four topics developed by Cyber Security Division program managers to address the research and development needs of DHS components and the homeland security enterprise.

The DHS works with more than 240,000 employees in areas that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analysts to chemical facility inspectors.

Christopher Franko, Blockchain expert at Borderless Technology and President at Borderless Charity, says:

“It is really interesting to see the DHS fund any sort of Blockchain technology. It makes sense they would be starting with identity management first. It’s also slightly ominous but I'm incredibly intrigued to know what they intend to use the system for. I've never heard of the companies they have decided to fund.”

He added that it would be good to know the criteria DHS used to choose these companies since there are other solutions being worked on now that are much further along such as his identity system.

“Either way,” he says, “moves like this mean blockchain technology is here to stay.”