uPort’s new demo shows how smart cities, consortia, and ecosystems can manage digital identity and data. Try it out!
uPortlandia is uPort’s vision of the future of data and identity management. A future of password-free online experiences. A future where you can prove who you are or verify facts about your life while sharing far less personal information. A future where we, the people, we as individuals, control our digital identities. Without being beholden to the Facebooks, Experians, or Googles of the world.
This is hardly a new vision. The cypherpunk and identity communities have been sketching out the value and requirements of this future for a couple decades. But although this vision was birthed many years ago, we’ve faced real challenges getting it in the hands of the public, the people who really need it. There are lots of stories to tell about why this is taking longer than we’d like in the age of blockchain. But ultimately, like so many technology adoption arcs, these boil down to the bootstrapping problem of getting users and network effect. Once we have a critical mass of users, the ecosystem of people, businesses and government will hum. You’ll get the stuff you want without sharing your eye color, your location, or your preference for Nickelback.
In the blockchain / crypto space, the number one challenge that we’re all working towards is better UX. With a decade of mobile under our belts, we mostly understand why and how people use their mobiles for their everyday personal and commercial activities — messaging, video calls, buying stuff, etc. What we’ve been missing in the blockchain-based identity space is UX. Great UX. UX that’s as easy-peasy as Apple Wallet. But this UX topic needs its own separate article, which is part 2 of this series.
For now, let’s tackle the question of how controlling our personal data works…
Easy Personal Data Control in a Thriving Economy
uPortlandia is a city from Italo Calvino’s municipal mediation, Invisible Cities. It’s a city where the municipal government is eager to return data ownership back to their citizens, while ensuring economic dynamism and growth. It’s a city where, once established, you can reuse data attributes about yourself so you don’t have to fill out boring and time-wasting paperwork every darn time you want to buy something from another vendor.Screenshot from uportlandia.uport.me
These chunks of personal data we must offer up to the vendor gods, these identity attributes, are called “verifiable credentials” in uPortlandia. Once you get a verifiable credential in uPortlandia, you can reuse it for other services without sharing the underlying data that comprises the credential.
For example, in uPortlandia, when you apply for a job, you have to prove that you graduated from the University of uPortlandia. The current, normal way that happens is that you have to call, or email, or fill out form, so the University will send an official document confirming your matriculation. But in uPortlandia, there is a better way!
When the University issues you a credential of matriculation, it’s now under your control. You can choose who to share it with whenever you want. And maybe even more important than that, you don’t have to share the underlying information, like your classes, GPA, major, etc.
This holds true for another cliched example many of us experience on a regular basis. Buying alcohol. When we present our drivers license, we are not *just* proving that we are over 21, we are also providing our specific birthdate, our eye color, our (former) weight, and for god’s sake, our street address. What right do these people checking our IDs have knowing where we live? None!
With a verifiable credential in your pocket, you merely show your picture with a QR code, et voila! You’ve been verified while only sharing the minimum amount of data about yourself required for the transaction.
These are the kinds of transactions and personal control uPortlandia is about.
Beyond Smart Cities
While uPortlandia is a delicious demonstration of how people can control their data and share it as they please within a “Smart City,” this approach also applies to any kind of ecosystem or consortium. If you’re involved in an industry group and want to share company data with other organizations, e.g. Know Your Supplier information, that can be also be done with reusable verifiable credentials. Set up your data credential once, then just reuse it for every future instance that data is needed again. It’s easy and incredibly satisfying to be this efficient!
Download the App and Play with uPortlandia!
So please go try our uPortlandia demo, create and gather all of your personal credentials, share them with all the institutions and organizations throughout the city of uPortlandia and imagine how much better life can be when you have easy, secure control over your privacy and how you share the data of your daily life.
We spoke with Joshua Shane of uPort to get a deeper look into uPortlandia…
How does this demo showcase the capabilities of uPort?
The power of uPort is being able to rapidly set up, deploy and experience trusted data and identity ecosystems for Smart Cities, Consortia, and any managed ecosystem or value chain. With uPortlandia, innovators and managers can experience how easy and satisfying it is to give control back to users while creating a scalable ecosystem made up of all the user-driven and controlled interactions with their city or ecosystems. By going through the process themselves, they will be delighted with how easy it is for customers or citizens to use.
What do you feel were some of the biggest ‘wins’ in putting it together?
The uPortlandia project is the first to create an “Trusted Data & Identity Ecosystem-in-a-box” that shows how easy and rewarding it is to control your private interactions within your ecosystem, while easily providing the information necessary to conduct the business and relationships of daily life.
The projects also shows how easy it is to reduce the transaction costs of onboarding and sharing credentials, making an ecosystem of interacting businesses, institutions and users a friction-free experience. Users can onboard once, then reuse that credential everywhere in your community ecosystem
What aspect of the UX are highlights?
The entire uPortlandia demo is an example of great UX where complex and often foreign to users concept of self-sovereign identity is explained in a way that is relatable. We all had to apply for some sort of ID in the past, received a diploma or certificate in order to verify our skills. uPortlandia uses this familiar experience to show the value of uPort. The gratifying experience the ability for someone to actually collect, own and choose who they share their data with also really resonates with me. Also, the ability for a user to use their phone as a sign up and login device that removes the need for users to fill in forms!
What’s next on the uPort roadmap?
The upcoming V2 release of uPort Serto™ in Q4, 2019. Serto™ is a Trust Management Platform that enables consortium administrators and member organizations to easily onboard and integrate users into their trusted data and identity ecosystems. By creating, sharing and relying on trusted, verifiable credentials, consortia and their members can radically reduce the transaction cost that exist because of poor user experience and existing inefficient business workflows, e.g. doing KYC over and over again for similar user credential disclosure.
How has the feedback been so far?
Incredibly positive. Customers and partners are asking to white label uPortlandia to use a as UX-driven forcing function with their stakeholders, partners, and customers. We are currently creating a version for the Alastria Consortium.
Check out uPortlandia!
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author above do not necessarily represent the views of Consensys AG. ConsenSys is a decentralized community with ConsenSys Media being a platform for members to freely express their diverse ideas and perspectives. To learn more about ConsenSys and Ethereum, please visit our website.
Welcome to uPortlandia, the Future of Data and Identity Management was originally published in ConsenSys Media on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.