DHS Awards $200K for Issuing and Validating Essential Work and Task Licenses

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $200,000 to MATTR LIMITED, a woman-owned start-up based in Auckland, New Zealand, to develop a capability to digitally issue and validate essential work and task licenses for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Phase 1 award was made under S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) re-release of its Preventing Forgery & Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses solicitation, which sought standards-based blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions to fulfill additional needs across DHS missions.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has amplified the role of essential workers in ensuring the continuity of operations in emergency response, supply chain fulfillment, essential business, and other previously overlooked areas of interest―and the need for them to self-identify in the performance of their duties. In addition, the need for individuals to interact in-person with DHS to conduct official tasks, duties, and appointments while ensuring public health and safety still exists during this global pandemic.

MATTR is currently building an extensive set of foundational capabilities in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for verifiable credential issuance, verification, and storage. An essential worker or a person performing an essential task would receive various credentials and attestations from many issuers containing relevant assertions about their essential work or task status. Their solution also offers the option to validate the information further by using either public or private registries of authoritative verifiable information.

“The ability for workers and individuals conducting essentials tasks to assert their respective eligibilities in a manner that safeguards their individual privacy and civil liberties while ensuring public health is a critical need,” said Anil John, SVIP technical director. “MATTR’s platform brings the modular building blocks to address this need by its support for World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) verifiable credentials and decentralized identifier standards. They will adapt and enhance their platform by supporting privacy respecting, ledger independent selective disclosure of information, and integration with existing federated identity protocols to provide a complete solution.”

Given the reality that certain areas of the economy will need to continue to operate in parallel for an extended period of time while effective counter-measures are being developed, the ability for workers and individuals conducting essentials tasks to assert their respective eligibility in a manner that safeguards their individual privacy and civil liberties while ensuring public health is a critical need.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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