Watersheds, or water catchment areas, supply vital fresh water supplies which are both important parts of our environmental ecosystem and sources of our eventual fresh drinking water. The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada are supporting a blockchain project that could help to protect valuable water resources.

WWF Canada’s 2017 Watershed Reports found that data from two-thirds of Canada’s watersheds was significantly lacking, preventing a proper understanding of the health of these watersheds and human impact on them to date.

As the globe heats up and countries increasingly expect or experience problems with fresh water suppliers, this kind of monitoring is vital.

Blockchain for fresh water – The Atlantic DataStream

The Gordon Foundation is a charity protecting Canada’s water and focused on protecting people and sustainability in Canada’s north. The Foundation, working with the Atlantic Water Network has developed a blockchain platform for data sharing of fresh water and watershed information called the Atlantic DataStream.

The open-access blockchain platform has been backed by the RBC Foundation. RBC is working to develop both its own blockchain applications and support the projects of others including the Atlantic DataStream project.

“Using a more-than-money approach, RBC is leveraging all the assets in our ecosystem, including our access to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, to work together with charitable partners like WWF and The Gordon Foundation and the required experts to address and help solve our shared environmental challenges,” said Valerie Chort, Executive Director of the RBC Foundation commenting for the official project press release.

Though the organizations monitoring watersheds and water quality across Canada do use sophisticated monitoring methods their efforts and disparate and disconnected. There was, until now, no central place to record and share the data collected in order to accurately assess freshwater quality and environmental impact.

Ethereum-based security and authenticity

The Atlantic DataStream platform will use Ethereum-based blockchain technology to record data on a distributed ledger “improving the security and authenticity of the data.” Users will have complete traceability and be able to access and visualize important water quality datasets collected by monitoring groups, government programs, and researchers.

“Blockchain is completely transparent and tells users the full story of the datasets they’re working with, starting from the moment the data is first created and shared,” explained the release.

The following chart from the platform’s website atlanticdatastream.ca shows how data will be encrypted to the blockchain to provide an immutable secure and shareable record.

The platform will help scientists and decision makers make informed decisions and ensure that Canada’s fresh water supplies remain healthy. It will be coordinated by the Atlantic Water Network based in Halifax and also provide a way to communicate results and a network for stakeholders.

“DataStream connects people to data and encourages collaboration across jurisdictions so that policy-makers can understand what is happening upstream and downstream of them,” said Sherry Campbell, CEO of The Gordon Foundation.

Megan Leslie, President and CEO of WWF is excited about the project that will give a “fuller” picture of freshwater health through combining “community efforts, scientific expertise and state-of-the-art technology.”

The Atlantic DataStream project is a clear example that blockchain technology is both incredibly useful for recording and share all kinds of data and that blockchain projects are increasingly achieving fruition in Canada.

Blockchain is pitched to disrupt every industry and has the potential to also aid the environment and build sustainability nationally and internationally though the technology’s ability to provide trusted, decentralized systems.

 

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