UN Division Looks to IOTA Ledger Tech for Higher Efficiency

The United Nations Office for Project Services will pilot the IOTA Foundation's tangle technology to try and streamline work processes.

May 24, 2018 at 2:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:58 a.m. UTC

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is teaming up with the IOTA Foundation to see how the project's distributed ledger technology can help the UN streamline its workflows.

The UNOPS announced the partnership on Tuesday, saying the two organizations are looking into increasing the operation efficiency of the UN office using IOTA's tangle technology.

The startup notably does not use a blockchain the way networks like bitcoin and ethereum do - yet this is one reason the UN division chose to work with the foundation, said UNOPS special advisor on blockchain technology Yoshiyuki Yamamoto.

He told CoinDesk that IOTA's distributed ledger in particular "can be operated on battery power or alternative connectivity networks," which can be extremely useful in areas with "sporadic access to high-speed internet connections or even electricity."

Further, IOTA's ledger is easily compatible with Internet of Things devices, which do not have high computing requirements.

That being said, the partnership is largely about learning how IOTA and the UNOPS can best utilize the technology, Yamamoto said, adding:

"We are working with the IOTA Foundation to identify the most appropriate use cases for the first [proof-of-concept], to help address some of the challenges that UN as a whole faces when working in the field. It’s very much a collaborative process."

"As we identify gaps in the proposed test solution or additional elements that need to be added, we’ll work together with IOTA to identify and involve suitable other partners as well," he continued.

Because the collaboration is educational in nature, Yamamoto could not predict how long it might take to move from a pilot phase to fully implementing IOTA's technology.

"It depends entirely on the complexity of the problem being tackled and how many different parts the solution entails need to be integrated: hardware, software, user experience, etc. It is difficult to know in advance what the sticking points will be," he told CoinDesk.

Nor is IOTA the only technology that UNOPS is working with. Yamamoto noted that the organization has already started working with "a number of start-ups and incubators from across the DLT spectrum" and continues to look for better solutions.

He also noted that the UN sees the technology as promising, saying the entity would not experiment with the tech if its members did not see real-world use cases.

"We don’t do blockchain for blockchain’s sake. We have limited resources and personnel, so we have to focus our efforts on solving real-world challenges. Our priorities stem from our mission as an organization, not from the fads of the crypto space," he concluded.

United Nations building image via Shutterstock

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