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Factom Blockchain Project Wins Grant to Protect US Border Patrol Data

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a grant of $192,380 to blockchain project Factom to support beta testing of a platform aimed to secure data from Border Patrol cameras and sensors, the agency announced Friday.

“The early phases of Factom’s work has informed architecture choices and design decisions inherent in integrating blockchain with existing technologies,” said Anil John, Identity Management Research and Development Program Manager at the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, in a news release. “In Phase IV, Factom will deploy this technology in a realistic field environment with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to understand its operational impacts.”

Factom, a Texas-based startup, is working on a technology that integrates data collected by the sensors and cameras onto a blockchain, securing data and eliminating the opportunity to spoof, modify or disrupt it, according to the release. Factom’s product will be tested in an environment with limited internet connectivity and variable weather conditions to gauge its performance in a live Border Patrol scenario.

The funding is a fourth tranche of a grant provided to Factom by the DHS in the course of its Silicon Valley Innovation Program, which allows tech companies to apply for $800,000 in funds over a 24-month period.

Currently 23 companies, including Factom, are in process of developing their solutions for DHS with assistance from its grants, incorporating technologies such as the internet of things, unmanned aircraft systems, cybersecurity solutions for financial services, global travel assessment systems, airport passenger processing and wearable technologies.

As reported by CoinDesk, Factom received $200,000 from the DHS in 2016 to begin developing the current project.

“The Factom piece is more along the line of: these devices exist, but how do we build a picture of the identity of this device over time? The blockchain could be the catalyst that allow us to document the changes,” John explained.

Factom has made several successful fundraising efforts over the last three years, raising $1.1 million in a crowdsale in 2015 and then, later that year, $400,000 in seed funding. October 2016 saw $4.2 million raised, followed by over $8 million in an extended Series A round last April.

CCTV image via Shutterstock

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US Customs and Border Patrol Advisors Form Blockchain Research Effort

An advisory committee to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is gearing up to research the application of blockchain to the agency’s trade functions, public documents show.

summary report published earlier this week offers details on the group, formed in September by the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC). The body, according to the CBP’s website, advises the Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security on the commercial operations of the CBP.

Though the working group is focused on emerging technologies in general, the report suggests that blockchain will be a major focus of research moving forward.

Thus far, the advisory panel has identified a number of possible use cases for the technology, with the report explaining:

“The group came up with 14 proposed use cases. They included ideas such as capturing and keeping track of partnering government agencies licenses, permits, certificate of origin reporting and free trade agreement product qualifications, carnets and bonded movement tracking.”

The paper indicates that group is now looking into those use cases and determining how they might be be deployed using blockchain technology.

At this time, it’s unclear whether the CBP advisory group’s work will translate into tangible applications at the agency. That said, recent work within a number of U.S. departments points to the proactive stance on the part of some officials, so it remains to be seen if – and how – the CBP embraces blockchain.

CBP agents image via CBP/Flickr

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