What is ShipChain?
ShipChain is a logistics utility ecosystem using blockchain technology to combat fraud and reduce losses in the shipping industry.
By bridging the gap between distributed ledger technology and traditional RESTful webservices, ShipChain provides a complete integration system for logistics companies to leverage the benefits that blockchain has to offer, including trustless contract execution, historical data immutability, and no single point of failure.
The ecosystem is composed of several services that are designed to work together, but can function independently:
At the core of ShipChain are the smart contracts, written in Solidity, which live on the Ethereum blockchain. These make up an open platform that anyone can interact with.
SHIPToken, a utility token contract for powering and incentivizing transactions on our network, and eventually will be used as "gas" for our sidechain.
LOAD is a registry of ongoing shipments. It describes each shipment's lifecycle as a state machine, identifies trusted parties, and links to an external Data Vault full of extended details about the shipment.
ESCROW is a set of primitives that can attach to a LOAD for assisting with escrow payment; it accepts payment in Ether or SHIPToken and automatically releases them to the carrier upon verified delivery. Note that ESCROW is currently built as a part of LOAD in version 1.0, but will be separated in the next release (version 1.1).
PEOPLE is a directory of user profiles, for anyone who wants to establish a reputation and trust. It allows one user to associate the same profile with many different wallets and addresses. Still under private development.
RATING provides reviews of prior jobs and can be used to generate a score of a PERSON's general trust level. Still under private development.
MARKET is a registry for posting about available work and helping connect service providers with customers in an open marketplace. Still under private development.
Currently contracts are deployed on the Ethereum Mainnet and tested on Ganache and Ropsten.
Eventually, we aim to move the contracts to our own sidechain and allow users to run validating nodes, creating a true open blockchain dedicated to logistics and shipping; we are evaluating the Loom platform as a candidate for hosting the sidechain.
Blockchain technologies depend on open source software; at ShipChain, we are committed to supporting the community and sharing our advancements with the world. A number of our projects will be free and open source (after they reach development maturity as in-house projects). These include:
Shipping Data Format Specifications ("Primitives"): Standardized JSON document formats for describing Shipments, People and Locations and related tracking data and file attachments.
Data Vaults: Encrypted, auditable storage containers with role-based granular permissions, where each update to the Vault data is signed by the private key of the author.
Engine: A node-js library and RPC server that simplifies interacting with Platform Contracts and the Ethereum blockchain, managing private key data, and reading/writing Data Vaults on behalf of a user. The Engine will eventually be integrated into the sidechain node software.
Transmission: A python/django web application that acts as a REST API gateway to interact with Engine and implements a SQL database caching layer for all the Shipping Primitives enabling developers to search and query data in a familiar (and performant) manner.
AXLE Gateway: Finally, we maintain a reference implementation of a RaspberryPi based GPS tracking unit that integrates with ShipChain services to post tracking data to the blockchain from a hardware device in the field. We hope to show other hardware manufacturers how easy it is to post tracking and sensor data to the ShipChain Platform.
ShipChain Inc Services
As a private company, we also aim to build some of the first (and best!) services that take advantage of our ecosystem, and provide inspiration to others for how logistics applications of the future might be built on blockchain tech.
Currently we are building the following:
ShipChain Web is our flagship app, and the first functional interface for interacting with a Transmission server to view device and tracking data. It will eventually include TMS tools to plan trips, match vendors with customers, and handle billing and payments (in both fiat and cryptocurrency).
ShipChain Profiles: An authentication and management portal for sharing access to documents and shipment data, without exposing private keys or storage credentials. Profiles also assists with managing device hardware in large fleets.
The ShipChain App: An Android application that uses your ShipChain Profile to provide the full experience of ShipChain Web, and acts as a basic track-and-trace Lite Client for drivers who want to try basic GPS tracking on ShipChain without committing to a hardware unit.