DocToShare: Document Verification

The Blockchain Buzz

Blockchain is making it possible to change the way technology is used and one application area of blockchain is in the field of record management. In the document verification domain specifically, various institutions have realized the benefits and have started deploying blockchain-oriented systems.

The gaining popularity of blockchain is attributed to the level of security this technology provides while maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the source. It completely eliminates the need for an intermediary, and all the transactions are recorded using a peer-to-peer system creating an immutable chain of ever-growing records.

DocToShare – Document Verification

One application area of blockchain is in the field of record management through document verification. DocToShare is a record management system leveraging blockchain technology. The major use case that was kept in mind while putting together this system was that of a graduate student applying to a foreign university for a Masters’ degree course.

Keeping this particular use case in mind, the system that currently exists for college applications is as follows. The student fills in the college application form with all his/her details like academic performance, extra-curricular achievements, interests, hobbies and course preferences. The external university to which the student applies needs to make sure that the details entered by the student are correct. For this, the student needs to send across his/her mark sheets via post (the physical mark sheets) or via e-mail (transcripts). Once the mark sheets have been received by the external university, verification usually takes place through a call or an e-mail between the student’s college and the external university being applied to.

However, there are various issues that are associated with this kind of an arrangement:

  • Fraudulent activity
  • Threat of eavesdropping
  • Tedious verification process
  • Time consuming
  • Expensive
the work process of DocToShare. displaying the steps which the document verification process takes
Figure 1 Working of DocToShare Record Management

 

With the proposed system, all the aforementioned issues will be addressed. Putting it simply, there are three entities- the Issuer, the Student and the External Institute. Once the Issuer uploads a true copy of the documents, they get stored on the blockchain and a unique transaction ID is generated for each document. This transaction ID will be available to the student to view his/ her documents as and when required. The transaction ID can be sent to the External Institute either directly from the student portal or indirectly via e-mail. Once the external institute gets this transaction ID, the documents can be easily viewed by entering the relevant transaction IDs on the portal. The next few images show the screenshots of the website.

 

the homepage of DocToShare. Displyaing the logins for universities, students and the third party verification
Figure 2 Home Page

 

The display of an issuer who uploads a document to DocToShare for a particular student
Figure 3 Issuer uploading a Document for a particular Student

 

 

the page on which the third party can verify the validity of the document for record management
Figure 4 Third Party Verification Page

 

The record management system DocToShare displays the verified document as it is is retrieved by entering the correct document hash
Figure 6 Retrieval of the Document by Entering the Transaction Hash

 

The tools and technologies that we used for the entire implementation are shown in Figure 7.

 

Tools used for the front end, middle tier and back end development
Figure 7 Tools and Technologies used

 

Inspiration and Initial Experience

Being in the final semester of engineering ourselves, we could easily relate to the tedious existing process of college applications. Reading about blockchain and how it is beginning to transform various sectors motivated us to take it up and build our own document verification system from scratch.

Since it was also a part of our final year project, we had to keep up with the deadlines at college. Initially, it was very difficult for us to understand how the ideas in our minds would be converted to an actual working model. It required a lot of research and we had to be up to date about the various technologies available to create a blockchain-based system.

Challenges

Being a new technology, it took us a lot of time to get accustomed to the concept and gain a deep understanding of its functioning. We started with conceptualizing, defining the problem areas in the existing system and moved on to build the project in a step by step fashion. Working on a project involving a technology we were all new to, required a lot of time and effort on our part. Coordinating among ourselves was also an initial cause of concern. Working on this project taught us how to adjust, accept and come to a consensus despite varying opinions. In fact, we bonded in a way none of us would have anticipated!

For the very reason that blockchain is still a budding technology, there were not many references available for this kind of a project. We had to indulge in a lot of self-learning with the help of our mentors at TOBLOCKCHAIN (take a look at the blockchain trainings). Even though it was tough, eventually things started moving our way and we started progressing. Before we knew it, we got shortlisted for an intra-college project competition towards the end of our course and secured the second position!

Next Steps

In a time when the world is rapidly changing and moving towards digitalisation, blockchain technology is a major player. It promotes paperless transactions while ensuring the integrity and authenticity of the source. This system is a simple instance of how blockchain can be used at the lowest level such as individual colleges. It can further be expanded to be used at a larger scale and a variety of institutions such as governments and banks. In fact, many of the online education portals providing a wide range of online certification courses can also adopt this innovative means to store certificates.

However, blockchain technology is still in its early days and requires larger audiences to accept it as a means of growth and value addition. If put to effective use, blockchain is capable of disrupting the document verification industry and provides innumerable opportunities to reshape the future.

Sources and Other Articles

[1] Document verification on the blockchain

https://cryptodisrupt.com/document-verification-on-the-blockchain/

[2] Will Blockchain Disrupt Government Corruption?

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/will_blockchain_disrupt_government_corruption

[3] MIT – Digital Certification Project

http://certificates.media.mit.edu/#contact