BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN CERTIFICATION - DARYA SHIPPING INITIATIVE
By Capt. Harvinder Vats, Superintendent - Darya Shipping Pvt. Ltd.
Seafarers possess countless certificates in their bag. To reach master competency level, I have been to various maritime institutes almost every year of my career, for competency courses at 2nd mate, chief mate and master level, or for modular STCW courses, various value-added courses and even in-house company courses. With amendments in the STCW convention, these numbers grow exponentially. Logically, these certificates define us, our competence and our fitness for joining a ship. Many times ships have faced penalties or detentions if any of their crew do not possess the required certificates. My complete professional journey of 16 years in shipping can be portrayed by a bunch of these certificates. Sometimes I consider them my identity, my hard-earned assets.
With all of the time and money that can go into the acquisition of certificates, they can be jeapordized in an instant if, for example, an institute is charged for malpractices and all the seafarers who have completed courses there come under the scrutiny. Though most seafarers may be innocent. Their entire professional carrier is at stake now. This event has created chaos among the seafarer on the authenticity of the institutes and the certificates they carry. There is a sign of lacking in self-assurance with this traditional system of certification at the institutes. The certificates generation and issuance are still manual hard copy which does not guarantee it to be tamperproof. We have to look to technologies for solutions.
Blockchain technology is one solution to the question of the genuineness of the certificates. Blockchain is considered to be a highly secure system due to its digital signature and encryption. The information is stored as an encrypted hash on a block that has its own identity and linked to the previous block, thus making a chain of blocks that are interconnected. The encrypted hash is a complicated string of mathematical numbers that is impossible to be altered. The alteration in any block will be identified and rejected by the other blocks in the chain as this alteration will not qualify the encrypted hash of linked blocks. The system is specially designed to be secure, convenient, and tamper-proof. This immutable and incorruptible nature of block-chain makes it safe from falsified information and hacks. The blockchain data is often stored in thousands of devices on a distributed network of nodes. This decentralized nature makes this technology immune to temper. It is not that easy to access, and if so, any piece of information can be easily recovered. Blockchain-based issued certificates from institutes are trusted as they are temper proof and simplifying the process of document verification whenever required during the third-party inspections.
Darya Shipping has generated a blockchain based certification platform to secure issued certificates and to issue new secured digital certificates.