Jolocom together with TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology – have applied for an EU grant under the Next Generation Internet initiative for Human Centric Solutions. Our project is called ConDIDi – Conference Digital Identifier Integration – and aims to use SSI technology to make it easier for conference organizers and participants to track credentials and reputation. Additionally, it seeks to automate data protection and privacy, and facilitate interoperability across worldwide academic identification systems.
The challenges of academic conferencing
One of the most important assets an individual or an institution can possess is a good reputation. This is particularly true in the scientific community. Professional reputations are often built upon the number of papers published and the following peer review.
Academic conferences play a vital role in enabling and promoting peer review. They also provide the foundations for future publications via conference proceedings. As such, proper conference management is crucial.
However, due to constraints on funding and staffing, conference management and participants frequently have to contend with delays, cancellations, misalignments, even occasional failures to provide information, either before, during or after a conference. Particularly following a conference, a lack of or delay in receiving publicly shareable professional credentials (such as proof of participation or a publication) can have significant consequences or even unfavorable repercussions. It can even lead to a stalling of professional advancement or limiting of funding opportunities for individuals or departments.
For conference hosts and event facilitators, keeping track of participants and providing subsequent services, such as provisioning proofs of participation, vetting presenters, ensuring panel diversity and collecting and confirming attendee information, can be a drain on resources. As a result, smaller academic departments can decide to pass up the opportunity to host, despite having much to offer.
These challenges only exacerbate problems of lack of diversity and unintentional glass ceilings, either because of missing participant information or infrastructural bias toward established conferences and organizations.
Full lifecycle conference credentials
ConDIDi seeks to reduce the management burden. It will do this by providing solutions to equip participants with self-sovereign identity (SSI) technology, including decentralized identifiers (DIDs) and verifiable credentials, to ease their taking part in academic conferences. Automating the process of verifying that participants have fulfilled requisite criteria, such as having paid fees, met requirements for paper submission, agreed to chair a panel, checked into the venue, etc, would reduce a large part of the bureaucratic, time-consuming overhead of conference management.
At the same time, requests for help from conference management can be reduced if participants automatically receive their proof of participation and relevant information, such as a role as presenter, and be free to share those documents with third parties. Additionally, it will become easier for third parties, including university HR teams, publishing houses and the like, to find and verify the reputation of individual academics based on specific criteria.
TIB and Jolocom
Hannover-based TIB is one of the pillars of the German academic community. It has already earned international recognition for leading Germany’s ORCID consortium, a global system for identifying academic authors while being respectful of name duplications and the differing naming conventions between languages and cultures. It’s also home to ConfIDent, a pilot project to catalogue academic conferences and give greater visibility to small or newly-established conference events. These are just two projects among many that strive to establish globally verifiable identities for academic personnel and conferences, and thereby increase participant visibility within the field.
Jolocom is a leading steward of SSI in Europe with a long-term commitment to open source and open standards. We will bring our full tech stack for SSI, including library, software development kit (SDK), SSI protocol and Jolocom SmartWallet end-user app, as well as our technical expertise to ConDIDi. With them, we aim to accelerate the deployment of DIDs and verifiable credentials, ensuring the interoperability of available solutions and increasing the self-sovereignty of users.
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TIB and Jolocom have both been early adopters and pioneers of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) and the Web 3.0 approach in Germany. Multiple encounters within the DLT community have led to a growing desire to join forces so we can further interoperability, open standards and open access. The deciding factor in jointly applying for the NGI LEDGER grant was the chance to build a human-centric solution that implements the SSI approach in the academic sector, while also increasing global collaboration and interoperability due to the gradual integration of different solutions (i.e. ORCID, ConfIDent and ConDIDi) into a single system.
What’s next for ConDIDi?
The ConDIDi project was shortlisted from more than 300 applying projects in March 2020. It then went on to be chosen as one of sixteen projects to receive official funding. In July 2020 the project started working toward developing a market-ready MVP as the acceleration program commenced.LEDGER EU and the NGI initiative will both support the development of a sustainable business model, as well as ensure that the technical development stays on schedule and delivers a working solution. After the year-long program, three of the 16 grantees will be selected for additional funding to support market introduction and dissemination of the solution.
Funds granted within the LEDGER project come from the H2020 Programme. The Next Generation Internet initiative is part of the Digital Single Market efforts of the EU Commission.
To find out more about ConDIDi, visit projects.tib.eu/condidi.