Israeli ingenuity coupled with blockchain technology can bring about solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, say organizers of the upcoming hackathon event on July 11-12, 2019 in Tel Aviv.
Blockchain for Social Impact Hackathon II: Rewind the Future to Impact Today’s Challenges will bring together top researchers, engineers, and students at Tel Aviv University to use blockchain infrastructures to address – and maybe even solve – global social issues and real-world problems such as mobile communication, resource distribution, and food safety and legitimacy (to ensure accountability).
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“This year, we’re collaborating with the Boris Mints Institute based at Tel Aviv University, which is focused exclusively on promoting significant, positive change in the world,” Yael Rozencwajg, founder and CEO of Blockchain Israel and an organizer of the hackathon, tells NoCamels.
“Additionally, this year’s hackathon is looking for agnostic technology – in addition to blockchain– initiatives. We’re hoping technology students and developers from all disciplines will come and try to provide technical solutions; we’re really focused on creating an impact,” she adds.
Some 120 participants are expected to take part in the hackathon, with the hopes they’ll produce at least 20 social impact projects.
In the first week of June, the United Nations hosted an event at its headquarters in New York dedicated to technologies – among them, blockchain – that can offer practical solutions for addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“According to the UN, the SDGs represent a $2.5 trillion opportunity for the private sector. We need to supercharge the SDGs by using frontier technologies, including blockchain. Innovation, entrepreneurship and public-private partnerships are key to driving progress,” Amir Dossal, the co-founder and Vice-Chair of the Blockchain Commission for Sustainable Development, the parent organization of the summit, said in a press statement.
Blockchain actually embraces a number of technologies including AI, IoT, cloud, and cybersecurity. All things Israel is already good at.
“Israel is on the forefront of solving the real issues plaguing the blockchain world,” Josh Liggett, a fintech and blockchain investment analyst, told NoCamels at the end of 2018.
Blockchains record, collect and transfer all sorts of data. This technology earned a controversial name as the platform behind cryptocurrencies but its image has since been cleaned up, and it is now being hyped as “the” tech to use to resolve society’s most difficult social challenges and improve the lives of millions of people around the globe.
Blockchain technology is used in fintech, medical and biotech, agriculture, cross-border payments, music ownership rights, among other industries.
Today, most of the best technologies are used to solve problems in the wealthier countries, explains Rozencwajg. She says blockchain can provide real solutions for real problems, especially in social and environmental issues.
Rozencwajg says an example of tech having a social impact can be seen in African villages, where decentralized financial applications enable paying the school staff’s salaries via crypto wallets.
Food authenticity is another concern. Consumers today have high demands for details about the origin of foodstuffs, content, growing origin, health benefits and environmental friendliness.
“Olive oil is a premium product. And the market is really corrupted around the world,” says Rozencwajg, noting that blockchain tech can trace the authenticity of extra virgin olive oil from production to distribution to our kitchens.
Indeed, IBM Spain and olive oil producer Oleocano are part of a European project known as Olive Trace that use blockchain technologies to track olive oil authenticity in Seville.
“Most of the olive oil that we buy in the stores has been tampered with. Through the blockchain we have options to check where the product comes from, verifying the process all along. Blockchain can identify the origin of every product – oil or something else,” she says.
The first Blockchain Israel hackathon last year was won by a team of young women who came up with an idea to improve HR processes, including identity verification, and leveraging business outcomes.
“The thinking is that there are lots of problems out there that can be solved using blockchain technology, and those solutions could lead to a better life for everyone. By bringing together folks from the industry side and from the community side with a common goal in mind, the hackathon leverages diversity to provide blockchain based solutions to everyday problems,” reads a Hackernoon post of the event.
This year’s hackathon includes five impact challenges in social responsibility, global resource distribution, autonomous systems, non-profit management, and diversity and equality.
“Our mission is to educate participants about the potential of blockchain solutions in supporting the world’s most pressing problems, while inspiring meaningful advancements around key challenges, thus enabling the development of solutions that achieve concrete results,” says Rozencwajg.
Viva Sarah Press is a journalist and speaker. She writes and talks about the creativity and innovation taking place in Israel and beyond. www.vivaspress.com