Blockcerts for ARO and DSTO 

What is the project?

This project utilizes the blockchain technology for student confirmations, verification of certifications and student CVs. By registering on the blockchain server, the documents are cryptographically signed, tamper-proof, and shareable. This will be an alternative “opt-in” service in addition to the current service.


What is the problem this project is trying to address?

Digital certificates or transcripts need to be protected from alternately forged documents. To protect these documents, current technology requires authentication either manually or via an on-line site from issuing institutions. In fact, traditional certificates in printed format must be authenticated, using conventional methods – graduates must make a request and pay the institutions for reissuing more copies. This process is not only bothersome in terms of time, but also harmful for the environment with great amounts of printed papers.  


How can this project serve to solve the problem?

Blockcerts is an “open standard for creating, issuing, viewing, and verifying blockchain-based certificates.” Initially designed by MIT Media Lab and Learning Machine, this application is easily accessible for everyone to issue an online-verified document. To understand this application, we need to understand more about blockchain technology. Blockchain is a chain of blocks that are closely interconnected with information. As every block contains an information of the previous block, known as ‘hash’, this technology is error-prone and secure against third party hackers. Hence, digital certificates employing blockchain technology enable a third party such as an employer to verify the authenticity of the certificate easily, quickly and free of charge on the blockchain without contacting the issuing institution.  


How does this project support our sustainable smart campus as a living lab vision?

The main goal of this SSC project is to enable students to own and control the sharing of digital versions of all documents relating to their studies at HKUST in an accessible, secure, verified format. Blockcerts project efficiently utilizes blockchain technology to reduce the consumption of paper significantly, as a first step towards our vision of a “paper-free campus.” Thus, this technology eliminates the process of visiting the institute and issuing a verified document by hand, thereby creating a convenient, smart, and sustainable community.


Current progress

Blockcert and ISO department has completed the proof of concept with device-responsive HTML format diploma. Thus, the development team is working on additional changes to enhance the PDF solution to a HTML solution; and prepare for the integration test and user acceptance test (Award Certification Letter) Also, the MTPC and ISO is developing (a) Digital certificate information webpage and (b) Verification webpage respectively.


What’s next?

This project is targeted to soft-launch co-issuing paper / digital copies of award certificate letters to all UG / PG graduates in late July 2019. During this stage, the SSC communications team will participate together to publish a promotional / educational video for students without any blockchain background. The department is currently preparing to obtain formal approval on the new HTML format of digital HKUST Diploma (and Academic Transcript) before official launch in November 2019.