Co-write Self-Sovereign Identity's Next Chapter
Tech, Policy, Law and Industry Applications Converge in Advanced Simulation
Dutch Blockchain Coalition, Ministry of the Interior, and Digicampus invite multidisciplinary teams and key stakeholders to collaborate in the Self-Sovereign Identity Track of Odyssey 2020. At the Odyssey Hackathon (April 3–5), you will be able to explore how SSI works in an operational setting in its full complexity while providing digital identity services for all other tracks of the hackathon.
If it was down to technology only, we would have already seen a successful cross-border implementation of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI); a truly digital native identity as common as email, widely adopted and backed by the government, industries and the broader society. In reality, SSI transcends tech and whether it is implemented in a really meaningful way depends on much more than just a solid technology foundation. It requires the convergence of new tech, laws and regulations as well as new ways of collaborating, policy-making and governance. This new identity system can only serve the human needs of the future in both social and economical context when its fundamental principles are properly rooted in 21st-century dynamics.
The challenge of SSI is to eventually make it work in the complex web of all real-life actors and stakeholders, their interests and ways of using it. Furthermore, it is not just about upgrading an IT system in some enterprise environment.
“This new system is about adding an identity layer to the internet for everyone to use and build with.”
With that, the current roles in the identity system might very well be quite different in a SSI framework and its international context. For example, the whole idea of SSI is that civilians own their identity and their personal data. So, what is the role of the government then?
In the Odyssey hackathon of 2017, with the National Office for Identity Data (RVIG) we’ve already scratched the surface of SSI and gained insights on how this could work in the case of a “refugee passport”. The winning solution showed us how the level of collaboration and trust could improve if all stakeholders in Europe would work with the level of information consistency such as system brings, and at the same time how this would protect the privacy and sovereignty of displaced persons.
Moving forward requires deep insights into the full complexity of the new system, its dynamics and potential implications, across all decision-making levels of the involved stakeholders. Multiple disciplines have to be brought together. What looks good on paper might not work in practice. No one has ever done such a thing before, so it’s pretty fair to acknowledge that we are basically all beginners here. Even though some people and organizations may have ventured further into this area than others, the bigger picture only comes together when we connect the dots between them, keep an open mind to (unexpected) new ideas and welcome critical thinking.
“Until now, we couldn’t really explore the full complexity of an SSI system in an operational setting. The Odyssey Hackathon is the perfect scene to enable key stakeholders to join efforts and collaborate in making the most important parts of an SSI system work at the 48-hour hackathon while providing the identity services to the other tracks”, says Peter Verkoulen, Coalition Manager Dutch Blockchain Coalition. “The Dutch Blockchain Coalition, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, and Digicampus invite multidisciplinary teams and key stakeholders to collaborate in the Self-Sovereign Identity Track of Odyssey 2020 in April, and in the journey towards the hackathon event. We especially look forward to further develop the results with the ecosystem, supported by Digicampus’ excellent SSI Sandbox facilities.”
Digicampus is a fresh knowledge-creation and experimentation hub started in 2019, where academics, governments, industry and citizens collaborate on the next generation of public services.
Giulietta Marani, Program Manager of Digicampus: “We build innovation partnerships on key solutions for public services, and SSI is one of those. The Odyssey Hackathon is the start of an innovation partnership on SSI. We are excited to work with the teams after the hackathon, to further support them and explore how we will create the right conditions for adoption.”
Putting together the SSI puzzle: breaking the loops.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” — Albert Einstein.
Because of the different principles and nature of SSI itself, the emergence of an SSI Framework will look quite different from normal IT projects or tech ventures. The outcomes will only change if we truly incorporate that different nature into the way of working and into the DNA of this ecosystem. For example, an old habit is that “Group A” creates a product or service for “Group B” to use. When we work on something we call “self-sovereign”, that wouldn’t make sense, at all. It is, what we call, a loop to break. This is about enabling as many people as possible to contribute in Group A.
That implies (deep) involvement of “ordinary people” as well. For this reason, we have set up a validation lab at the hackathon where the teams interact with actual (potential) users who are interested in providing feedback on such kind of radical innovation.
Rutger van Zuidam, Founder of Odyssey: “The participation of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and Digicampus, shows that stakeholders are willing to act from the bigger picture, beyond their individual positions. This level of ecosystem awareness acknowledges that there is always a bigger picture to co-create, and that is exactly the mindset required to make SSI work. This needs to work for everyone, including generations to come. Stakeholders will learn that this way of working doesn’t just benefit the entire ecosystem but also benefits themselves in a better way. The rest of whatever kind of tech, laws, policies, governance and funding we need, will follow accordingly.”
The Odyssey Hackathon is a kind of a portal to the future that opens for 48 hours. It is designed to enable all participants to discover the future by building it. With the SSI Track, a new type of exploration tool is added to this collaborative space: operationalization. It happens in a contained space that provides a comfortable way to get out of the comfort zone. A safe, neutral, public space to experiment, collaborate with “the unusual suspects” and learn the unexpected.
Peter Verkoulen: “We have a joint challenge with Odyssey because we can only do this together, in an open co-creation approach, and in an international context. We can’t stay behind our desks and only work from there. We really have to go out and experiment. Odyssey is the perfect opportunity to interact with and learn from each other, not only within the SSI Track but with all other tracks of the hackathon.”
Van Zuidam: “Over the past years, so much great work has been done in the field of Self-Sovereign Identity, in multiple communities and disciplines. Bringing these people, initiatives and stakeholders together and actually operationalizing that great work during the hackathon, will provide deep insights and learnings. It is bound to cut through some of the complexity regarding the co-creation and emergence of such a new and important system. The results will be shared publicly and can be utilized by anyone. This can significantly de-risk the decisions and resource allocation needed to move forward together.”
The joint exploration, spearheaded by DBC, Ministry of the Interior and Digicampus, will allow everyone to better understand the complexity of self-sovereign identity and have a better shot at changing the yesterday’s system in a way that would benefit everyone globally.
Invitation to contribute in the SSI Track at Odyssey Hackathon 2020
Getting your team in the track
All hackathon teams are carefully curated by Odyssey and the Challenge Lead Partners. Applications for teams will be open from January 20 until February 24. The Challenge Lead Partners and their stakeholders are in the phase of designing the constellation of multidisciplinary challenges that fit together, as mentioned above. Once defined and reviewed, they will be published on the Odyssey website on December 4th. This will enable prospective teams to choose how they can best contribute to the SSI track.
This is a call for developers, legal and regulatory specialists, policy-makers, scientists, entrepreneurs… basically anyone who is deeply passionate about building a truly digital native identity for the 21st century, together.
We will select teams who want to look at and work on self-sovereign identity not only through the familiar tech lens but also explore the new law, governance, and policy solutions. We will especially welcome inter-organisational teams consisting of multiple companies.
Providing expertise — become Jedi
The hackathon assembles a multitude of people that carry wisdom. This highly curated community is able to act beyond the expert role and keep their beginner’s mind. Not teaching but ever learning, while sharing domain experience and expertise. They are true Jedi, as they are able to co-create new questions and answers from the space between what they know and what the teams want to accomplish. You can apply as a Jedi to become part of the supporting force behind the teams through the Odyssey website.
Building with the SSI Track, from a different Odyssey Challenge
Basically every context can benefit from a truly digital native, self-sovereign identity. So the teams that work in all other tracks, with their challenge leads and stakeholders, can leverage the SSI Track as it provides identity services during the hackathon. For challenge owners of the other tracks, this means identifying the need for identity within the context of the challenge. For the teams, this means establishing interfaces with the SSI tools, provided by the SSI Track. The teams at the SSI Track will be prepared to help you!
Odyssey Connect (February 5–6)