DAV Foundation Wants To Bring Open-Source Blockchain Platform To Mobility

Blockchain as a concept has burst forth from the backchannel discussions among technologists over the past year into the mainstream consciousness. While the chances are now pretty good that even non-technically oriented people have at least heard the term, few are likely to have any clue what it means or what its uses are. One that does is Noam Copel, CEO and founder of the DAV foundation and he and his team are trying to use it create some of the connective tissue for the future mobility ecosystem.

The ultimate goal is to create a decentralized transportation network that enables any number of companies to participate with any number of customers. Much like the internet, any user on this network can communicate and transact with any other user whether those users are people or vehicles. This is in distinct contrast to today’s situation where almost every mobility service provider such as carsharing, ride-hailing, micro transit or mass transit is siloed from all of the others. Blockchain lies at the heart of this open-source networking system.

An open-platform such as the one envisioned by Copel and DAV Foundation could prove to be extremely important to the new mobility ecosystem. In addition to letting many companies participate and collaborate, it can potentially help to achieve the some of the full societal benefits of a shared, autonomous mobility system. The long-term goal is to reduce the number of vehicles on urban streets and utilize those that are left more completely so vehicles aren’t sitting around taking up real estate or trolling for parking spaces. That will require a multi-modal system that enables people to go back and forth between, bikes, cars and both intra and inter-city mass transit.

First some backstory. For those that have heard of blockchain, it’s usually in the context of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ethereum. However, it has potential uses that go well beyond these newfangled digital currencies. Blockchain is a mechanism for creating a distributed, encrypted digital ledger. The functionality is partially contained in the name. Every transaction in a particular ecosystem is recorded as a block which also contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block.

A hash is just a chunk of seemingly random bits that is calculated by passing a set of data through an encryption algorithm. No matter how big the original data set, the hash will always be the same size although the values contained in it will differ. If implemented correctly, you can’t get back the original data from the hash. However, you can always run the original data through the same algorithm and it should return the same hash result. Thus if the hash changes, you can check if the original data has been tampered with. Since each new transaction contains a hash in part based on the previous hash, there is a fixed chain that goes all the way back to the origin.

So what does any of this have to do with mobility services? The increasingly broadly held expectation among a wide swath of automotive industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and urban planners is that the days of the personally owned vehicle are quickly drawing to a close. Instead, in the coming years we will probably be utilizing a range of shared, connected and automated transportation options. The timing for this transition is open to much more debate.

Regardless of when it happens, we will require some new supporting infrastructure to make this new business viable and Copel is developing part of it through the DAV Foundation. Think of DAV as analogous to TCP/IP, the open protocols that define the fundamentals of how all devices on the internet talk to each other. The billions of devices on the network today send everything from video and audio streams to plain text messages. But in order for any device to talk to any other arbitrary device, they need an address to communicate with, data in a particular format of packets and a few other bits of information.

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Blockchain as a concept has burst forth from the backchannel discussions among technologists over the past year into the mainstream consciousness. While the chances are now pretty good that even non-technically oriented people have at least heard the term, few are likely to have any clue what it means or what its uses are. One that does is Noam Copel, CEO and founder of the DAV foundation and he and his team are trying to use it create some of the connective tissue for the future mobility ecosystem.

The ultimate goal is to create a decentralized transportation network that enables any number of companies to participate with any number of customers. Much like the internet, any user on this network can communicate and transact with any other user whether those users are people or vehicles. This is in distinct contrast to today’s situation where almost every mobility service provider such as carsharing, ride-hailing, micro transit or mass transit is siloed from all of the others. Blockchain lies at the heart of this open-source networking system.

An open-platform such as the one envisioned by Copel and DAV Foundation could prove to be extremely important to the new mobility ecosystem. In addition to letting many companies participate and collaborate, it can potentially help to achieve the some of the full societal benefits of a shared, autonomous mobility system. The long-term goal is to reduce the number of vehicles on urban streets and utilize those that are left more completely so vehicles aren’t sitting around taking up real estate or trolling for parking spaces. That will require a multi-modal system that enables people to go back and forth between, bikes, cars and both intra and inter-city mass transit.

First some backstory. For those that have heard of blockchain, it’s usually in the context of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ethereum. However, it has potential uses that go well beyond these newfangled digital currencies. Blockchain is a mechanism for creating a distributed, encrypted digital ledger. The functionality is partially contained in the name. Every transaction in a particular ecosystem is recorded as a block which also contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block.

A hash is just a chunk of seemingly random bits that is calculated by passing a set of data through an encryption algorithm. No matter how big the original data set, the hash will always be the same size although the values contained in it will differ. If implemented correctly, you can’t get back the original data from the hash. However, you can always run the original data through the same algorithm and it should return the same hash result. Thus if the hash changes, you can check if the original data has been tampered with. Since each new transaction contains a hash in part based on the previous hash, there is a fixed chain that goes all the way back to the origin.

So what does any of this have to do with mobility services? The increasingly broadly held expectation among a wide swath of automotive industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and urban planners is that the days of the personally owned vehicle are quickly drawing to a close. Instead, in the coming years we will probably be utilizing a range of shared, connected and automated transportation options. The timing for this transition is open to much more debate.

Regardless of when it happens, we will require some new supporting infrastructure to make this new business viable and Copel is developing part of it through the DAV Foundation. Think of DAV as analogous to TCP/IP, the open protocols that define the fundamentals of how all devices on the internet talk to each other. The billions of devices on the network today send everything from video and audio streams to plain text messages. But in order for any device to talk to any other arbitrary device, they need an address to communicate with, data in a particular format of packets and a few other bits of information.

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Source: Blockchain Google

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