A few months ago some of our academic partners at the University of British Columbia introduced us to members of the British Columbia Government who were creating a blockchain system for mine credentials. Their blockchain system, built on Hyperledger Aries, allows different participants to create and share credentials with each other. This allows the government, mining companies and auditors to collaboratively assemble permits, audits, carbon emissions reports, and other sensitive data in a blockchain wallet. This wallet would remain under the control of the mine who could then share their credentials as they saw fit. Each entity retains control of its data and chooses what to make public.
When Minespider joined this project our goal was to demonstrate Practical Interoperability, meaning that data from the British Columbia Government’s blockchain credentialing system would be pulled into a Minespider product passport; a credentialing system speaking with our traceability system. In practical terms, this means that the mine could receive credentials such as their mining permit from the BC government and carbon emissions report from an auditor in one place, share them with Minespider, and link this data to shipments of material as they leave the mine site.
Practical Interoperability is the easiest category of interoperability between blockchain systems, in that data is shared via API or oracle on an application level. There is a trusted party involved to make the interoperation happen and no cross-chain authentication is implemented. It works very similarly to how two applications using standard databases would interoperate.
This makes interoperation more straightforward but does not mean that it is trivial. When two blockchains interoperate in this way, a decision still has to be made beforehand about which one will be the source of truth for which data. In addition, data immutability and access permissions may be handled differently on different blockchain systems. Nevertheless, Practical Interoperability is an important step along the road of blockchain adoption.