Blockchain for the homeless?

Researchers from Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin claim that blockchain holds great potential as “techQuity” – technology that provides innovative solutions to advance health equity.

Many homeless people experience barriers to the critical services they need to access – such as welfare payments, healthcare and food assistance – because of no way to prove their identity. Due to the often nomadic nature of homelessness, physical documents such as passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates are highly susceptible to loss, theft or damage.

Researchers have suggested blockchain technology as a new method of securing the identities of societies most vulnerable. Due to the security and immutability blockchain provides, information can be shared across a network of systems that the person chooses.

“The architecture of blockchain technology makes it a unique solution for managing identities of vulnerable people, allowing them to secure their information and control when and where that data gets shared.”

Anjum Khurshid, M.D., Ph.D. – Director of Data Integration, Department of Population Health
Dell Medical School

In 2018, the City of Austin worked with a team from Dell Medical School to trial a blockchain-backed identity system for homeless people. The results of the study showed that blockchain allowed them to upload and share documents with service providers, while holding their personal information as an asset in their blockchain account.

The researchers acknowledge that this is largely uncharted territory and proposed a research agenda in the commentary that set out ways to address challenges, including:

  • Defining the scope of the problem
  • Mapping infrastructure requirements
  • Understanding legal and ethical considerations
  • Testing the overall effectiveness of blockchain to not only solve identity management problems, but also to improve health equity for people experiencing homelessness

Researcher Tim Mercer said:

“We have an incredible opportunity to partner with the private technology sector to solve this pernicious problem that plagues one of society’s most vulnerable populations.”

Tim Mercer – Director of Global Health Program, Department of Population Health
Dell Medical School

Blockchain Ireland Week 2021

Blockchain Ireland Week 2021 runs over four days (May 24 – 27) and includes an impressive line-up of speakers gathered from the World Economic Forum, the European Commission, the Irish government, industry, academia, entrepreneurs and the indigenous technology sector.

International speakers from Africa, Asia, Australia and the United States will share their experiences and case uses of blockchain. Presentations cover areas like sustainability, start-ups, innovation, enterprise, social impact and public services.

Ireland’s interesting initiatives will also be touched on – from craft brewing and bloodstock sales to green energy and agri-food traceability.

Blockchain Ireland is a non-profit, member-led organisation that combines the efforts of government, state agencies, industry, corporates and academics to help promote and share information on blockchain in Ireland. The group meets on a monthly basis to share insights and expertise on blockchain technology.

EY dumps $100 million into blockchain research solutions

EY announced that it will be committing $100 million in funding to “research, engineering and services of blockchain and crypto asset technology.”

As part of the announcement, EY unveiled a new testing studio that is part of the Smart Contract & Token Review tool found in the suite of tools on

It offers a blended form of compliance testing that incorporates code review, support for customised smart contract tests and simulation of mainnet transactions. It’s expected to be used in complex decentralised finance (DeFi) ecosystems.

EY have also released their contribution to an open-source, public zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) prototype.

ZKP is an encryption scheme that is becoming increasingly important with anonymity. Essentially, it allows one party to prove to another that they know verifiable information without conveying any additional information aside from that.

This form of encryption is valuable as it enables companies to share smart contracts or information on a shared network and preserve commercial confidentiality at the same time.