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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 Government Awards $750k in New Blockchain Startup Grant

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a grant of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to a blockchain startup.

Virginia-based DigitalBazaar, according to a September 25 release from the DHS, received the $749,241 in funding through the Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR). The grant, the department said, is intended to fuel the development of “fit-for-purpose blockchains” for a number of use cases.

Specifically, the government said, the firm will work on a “flexible software ecosystem” to include “digital credentials and digital wallets to address a wide variety of identity management and online access use cases.”

The software is being developed for the department’s Homeland Security Enterprise initiative.

The news marks the third time DigitalBazaar has received funding through the SBIR. The startup was one of several recipients of funding in the summer of 2016, followed by an additional award in May of this year. To date, DigitalBazaar has received more than $1 million through the initiative.

In statements, government officials characterized the DigitalBazaar-tied project as one focused on research and development, serving in part as a way to explore applications of the tech within the DHS.

According to Doughlas Maughan, director of the department’s Cyber Security Division:

“Blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we manage online identity and access the internet. This R&D project will help bring this potential closer to reality.”

Homeland Security image via Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock

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DHS Awards Grants to Develop Blockchain-based Solutions for Commercial Applications

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a grant of $750,000 each to two Blockchain startup companies: Digital Bazaar and Evernym. Under the terms of this award, both companies will work toward the development of Blockchain-based commercial solutions for both public and private applications.

 Under the Phase 2 funding from DHS’ Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, the companies were mandated to address four use cases, namely:

  1. Internet of things (IoT) devices and sensors;

  2. processing of international travelers;

  3. border trade facilitation;

  4. identity management.

 The grant money was sourced from the directorate’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The fund also supports creating the building blocks for technology solutions, including the drafting of standards for the technology.

 Specific programs of the Blockchain startups

 Evernym is advancing a project for the design and implementation of a decentralized key management system for Blockchain. The company primarily focuses its efforts on how to resolve the issues that could possibly emerge when a Blockchain wallet user’s key is revoked or reissued.

 According to S&T cybersecurity research and development program manager Anil John, this is something the agency is keenly interested in:

 “You need to have control over the Blockchain wallet when making attestations or conducting operations that are related to any type of Blockchain. We are interested in solving what happens when a key needs to be revoked or reissued as a foundational layer of the technology to make it work at scale.”

 Meanwhile, Digital Bazaar is working on a project to enable interoperability across 15 to 20 different platforms that are used for Blockchain implementation.

 John stated that the agency aims to create a standardized approach for data management that can be used by the government, the private sector, and other interested parties.