Blockchain and the Courts in Kazakhstan (Promoting Factom)

Greetings Factom Community,

I hope you all are well. I am writing this thread to get some support within the ecosystem on an exciting event, that I know will be beneficial for promoting the Factom Protocol. Ingo Keilitz and I were invited to present on blockchain and court administration at the conference of the International Association for Court Administration (IACA) to be held in the capital of Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), at the supreme court. A little background about the project and the request from the community is provided below.

Our just-published paper in the Court Manager ( the official journal of the National Association for Court Management, the largest organization of court management professionals in the world), “Ten Things You Should Know About Blockchain Today: A Guide for Court Managers,” is the first article in the Court Manager about blockchain. The message it conveys to the managers of the approximately 16,000 state courts that hear 96% of the cases in the U.S. is this: Blockchain is coming to a neighborhood near you -- get ready. It is likely the first time most court managers have heard this message.

While most legal firms, and the legal industry in general, are familiar with blockchain technology, the field of court administration has yet to be introduced to the transformative power of blockchain. Ingo and I want to be among the first messengers and developers to enter this space and tout Factom as the enterprise blockchain solution of our choice.

The conference of the International Association for Court Administration (IACA) to be held in the capital of Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) from 17-18 September gives us the opportunity to take this message to the international community of court professionals including court managers and presiding judges. We will make one formal presentation that appears on the conference agenda on September 17 with the same title as our Court Manager article, and an invited presentation as part of a Court Research Workshop the previous day. We will also network with conference participants and spread our message and market Factom. We’ve already made plans to speak with attendees from Melbourne, Australia about blockchain applications for the courts. Another connection, Pam Harris, the Maryland State Court Administrator, is a long-time colleague of Ingo. She is the executive director of IACA and will be in Kazakhstan for the conference.

Because Ingo and I have since the publication of our paper engaged the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas with a proposal to put its criminal arrest warrants on a blockchain, we will be able to get specific and pull in our planned application of the Factom platform, i.e., how the warrant data is structured, implemented, retrieved, and transmitted for potential software development. The absence of an organized, statewide warrant system in Ohio is the subject of Ohio Governor DeWine’s Warrant Task Force Report last month. The greater Cleveland area in Cuyahoga County is also where several enteprise players have an audacious plan to make Ohio the epicenter of everything blockchain. Ingo and I have great positioning to bring Factom into the larger discussions there as well.

Ingo and I are requesting a modest travel stipend from the Factom Ecosystem to realize the Kazakhstan plan which in turn provides additional intangibles to our larger goals in the court space. Below is a breakdown of price and timeline for our request.

- Using the current U.S. Department of State per diem rates for Almaty, Kazakhstan of $316/day (including lodging of $217/day and $99/day for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE)) X 5 days X 2 persons and round-trip airfare to Almaty (Troy from Washington, DC, and me from Richmond) of $1,200 X 2, and registration fees of $275 for members and $325 for non-members, we seek a travel grant of $6,160 for the both of us.
- Because of the complexities of getting a B1 visa for Kazakhstan (e.g., an invitation from the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan, the sponsor of the conference; and personal contact with the Kazakhstan Embassy) and an increase in registration fees after June 30, we would like a commitment from Factom as soon as possible.

Last word: One important caveat. Although officially secular, about 70% of Kazakhstan is Muslim. In Ingo's experience, any overt hard-sell of private business interests, especially American private industry interests, is frowned upon in Muslim countries. Academics, researchers and scholars, in contrast, are revered. Therefore, while Ingo and I can promote Factom, we should do so as researchers and academics affiliated with William & Mary.

Please feel free to probe for any additional answers. Ingo will be creating a Factomize account and answering as well. Thank you all for your time
Sounds awesome!

You might want to talk to Sphereon as well as we have several leads and relationships in Justice as well, domestic and abroad of which 2 are in advanced stages.

I think we can certainly come up with the remuneration together.

2 questions though:
- MaxCollab got sponsored by several community members. Is this being included in any way in the calculation?
- Will there be any after action report or something?
Thanks for this initiative.

1. Are you able to share a copy of your paper? It's behind the paywall.

engaged the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas with a proposal to put its criminal arrest warrants on a blockchain
Are you able to outline your vision a little please? Will you place the entire warrant on Factom? What problem will this solve?

tout Factom as the enterprise blockchain solution of our choice.
What specific problem(s) will Factom solve and why is it superior to other offerings?
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Thanks for your Welcome Message, David. Though I'm a newbie, it's a pleasure to be part of the group conversation.

In response to your first question and the second, I've attached the pre-publication version of the Court Manager article, and the brief of the plan we pitched to the Ohio court. Please know that, as suggested by the title of he article, both pieces are pitched at a very high-level of generalities to an audience that is largely uninitiated to blockchain. That said, more specifically, to the second question, our vision is expressed in Points 5 -10 of the Court Manager article. In essence, court administration is today almost empty of blockchain developers and ripe for development. We might be among the first out of the gate. Also, our impression is that the warrant cases in Ohio cry out for blockchain technology. Our hope is that a persuasive soft-sell in Ohio will get the attention of other court systems. I have a teleconference with Pam Harris, the state court administrators to discuss blockchain tomorrow. Pam is the CEO of the International Association for Court Administration (IACA) and will be at the IACA conference in Kazakhstan for which we are seeking some travel support.

As a newbie, the third question is tougher for me to answer. My impression is that the Factom protocol can get us beyond the proof of concept stage, to the best-case identification (my hope is that it's warrant cases) to the blueprint stage faster than any developments in Ohio that are focused on other sectors like universities. No doubt, the court will be asked to sit around the table but they will be relatively far in line for actual application of blockchain. I defer to Troy to answer why Factom is superior to other offerings because I'm not familiar with the blockchain vendors out there except Tyler Technologies and, based on my experience with them, I doubt that they're good to go (except maybe in a leveraged development effort with a court system).


Thanks for the interest from everyone. Niels, in terms of the funding for MaxCollab, I was under the impression those funds were dedicated to the work specifically conducted by Damien to the community. For that reason, we do not plan on factoring that into our calculation. In terms of follow-up after the conference, we do intend on debriefing the community on the conference about who we have spoken to, follow on conversations and projects. I would love to get conversations going with you and Sphereon on your projects, ours and possible collaborations.

David, thanks for your questions. I mentioned the Ohio piece here as a highlight of ongoing efforts for us to push forward in the court related conversations, but the Ohio project is not directly a part of the conference. I apologize if there was any miscommunication there. Your question is still relevant to the larger question of how blockchain is relevant to the courts in general and how Factom is relevant in particular. The answer is simple, the warrant system is nothing more than a legal supply chain with different organizations even within the same municipality operating with different systems. This provides a number of issues on warrant execution such as delays on information transmission, misinformation, outdated warrants, incomplete information etc. Fixing the problem is prohibited by potential security issues to consolidate siloed databases in addition to high cost. I have looked over several blockchain projects such as Waltonchain, Provenance and Nem in addition to Factom (All positioned well for supply chain projects). Factom and Nem stood out as the most viable. Nem's project, Apostille, is quite impressive in theory, it offers a good structure and ability to connect legacy systems with Nem's architecture through simple APIs like Factom and also has an interest in building real enterprise and government solutions. Their current financial issues however, make them less attractive when approaching a government entity (Social cost is as important as good technology). This gives Factom a competitive edge in my mind, in addition to the data structures making sense for court supply chain data. In addition, the fact the courts will not need to deal directly with cryptocurrencies to utilize the technology and the static cost thanks to EC, makes it a quite appealing technology and a bit of an easier sell.

I hope these responses are sufficient for both David and Niels. I am truly excited to work with you guys.
Thank you Troy and Ingo. Followups:
The answer is simple, the warrant system is nothing more than a legal supply chain with different organizations even within the same municipality operating with different systems. This provides a number of issues on warrant execution such as delays on information transmission, misinformation, outdated warrants, incomplete information etc.
How does Factom solve this?

Are you guys looking to develop your own solutions or be salesmen for existing BAAS solutions by Inc, Sphereon, etc?
Thanks for the questions David, no doubt we will get the what, where, when, why and how of Factom in Kazakhstan. I will answer your second question first.

I have never built or conducted research where I wasnt also the Salesman, so for the Ohio project, again seperate from the conference, we expect to do both. Ingo and I are also not opposed to partnering with ANOs, providing industry specific expertise (Ingo IS one of the leading experts in the field of court management) to ANOs with established APIs that are more than adequate with maybe a few tweaks and collectively pitching projects if it equitable to us, them and the ecosystem.

MaxCollab does intend to build out our own products inhouse as well whether we become an ANO or not, but again will partner where appropriate. These again are not necessarily relevant to the conference, but specific to Ohio in the interim.

In terms now of how Factom solves this problem, the above issues are mostly a matter of consistency and auditability of data. Conceivably we can build a blockchain object database that can be used among siloed software to ensure consistent and robust transfer of data that is also retrievable to the proper channels.

David, if you have none conference related questions remaining please feel free to continue communicating with me and Ingo on the Discord group chat I invited you to two weeks ago. I am positive we can have a fruitful discussion on the Ohio project, how we can partner there. Per the 7 point paper Ingo presented, we will be seeking SJI funding for that and not from the community.
1. You are asking for $6,160 from a resource starved ecosystem to travel to a conference.

2. You do not have a product or solution to sell.

3. As-is, this would be little more than educating the participants on blockchain and some marketing for the Factom Protocol (please note if we weren't a resource constrained ecosystem I would already have signed my support).

4. There might be some interest but then we're back to number 2.

If this is a pure marketing play, it should be brought before the Marketing Committee and funded from their large grant if they determine it is a worthwhile marketing initiative.

If this isn't a pure marketing play, then I need to hear what strategy will be employed to actually sell Factom to conference participants. As you don't have a product, that means you need to get together with one of the current BAAS players (likely Sphereon or Inc but maybe DeFacto) and come to understand what their existing solutions enable and if it fits within the needs of conference participants. If one of those players is interested in you being a salesman for them at the conference and feel you understand their solution and can execute, then I ask that they respond in this thread stating as much.

I will then support the initiative.
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(For the record, I know you are laying out options for us on path forward for funding, I think my post below may come off unappreciative of that fact so thank you. This is an edit. Below has been unaltered)

1. The title says promoting Factom, not selling Factom solutions, there was no miscommunication there.

2. The marketing committee was approached first and asked us to bring the thread to the public thread as well.

3. We have explicitly stated this is an information conference, this is a muslim country where explicit product sales are frowned upon.

4. As I have mentioned above, we have no issues with partnering with an ANO, the ENTIRE point of public forums is to guage interest in community participants on what we are doing and finding the best fit for the request.

5. There are legitimate times where exploration of problem precedes prebuilt solutions.

We are again back at post one, we have put ourselves in a position where we were invited to a conference where we are the only ones speaking about blockchain applications in court management. Many of these justices do not have the time and will never sift through 100s of projects to decipher the difference between a payment transfer blockchain, and one built for data authentication like Factom.

You could have lead with the question of whether we had a product or not, it would have prevented a lengthy back and forth. The answer is currently no and we have no issues stating that explicitly. Do we have the connections and opportunities to explore solutions in spaces Factom currently isnt in absolutely and that was the value prop.

If the community finds the value prop is insufficienct for $6100, I would understand completely. I understand your position and I appreciate your no as it currently stands. I will gleefully continue communicating with others on this thread and other channels in Factom to find the best path forward. Take care man.
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5. There are legitimate times where exploration of problem precedes prebuilt solutions.
I agree. But the Factom Protocol isn't at that time. If an existing BAAS provider doesn't have a solution that would fulfill the needs of conference participants with minimal customization, it is my opinion that this ecosystem shouldn't fund this initiative. We need to fund initiatives where initial entries are not 1+ years out. When those shorter term initiatives pay dividends we can fund more complex initiatives like yours.

But again, if there's existing solutions within this ecosystem that would fit the needs of conference participants, then I am game. I do understand you would not be able to take a heavy marketing approach due to culture. But if there's no existing solution for those conference participants who are interested in followups, then we need to allocate capital elsewhere.
From my own experience of pitching Factom at conferences, visitors need a high tech knowledge to understand the potential of a protocol.

Otherwise it’s difficult to appreciate. Solutions on the other hand makes people’s eyes light up.

As I don’t think that’s your audience - please take a well thought out proposition of what the exact solution is and how it’ll work in practice. With dev roadmap and business case/value add.

Sphereon has many document management examples to show screenshots of, as an idea.

Great initiative and skills to get the invite!
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Thanks Colin for the straightforward feedback. I truly can appreciate the community's interest in putting forth current solutions instead of us promoting the Factom potential IF they were to provide funding.

Like I mentioned several times above, I am not against showcasing several solutions ANOs currently have that may be of interest to the courts so long as it maintains a feeling of academic exploration. I want to make this explicit, if Factom wants to partner with a university, this is how many things will come off.

Ingo has suggested we look elsewhere for funding or cover the cost ourselves with our original pitch, which some people may not respect, but we've earned our spot there in Kazakhstan. I still am willing to explore options again within reason.

A no doesn't stop me from pursuing other ventures with Factom, but I would appreciate more direct responses such as yours Colin. I truly appreciate the straight to the point.

I have reached out to Marteen in addition to Greg.

Thanks again for the interest everyone.
I like the idea of promoting Factom through the conference, however have concerns which are similar to those expressed above by various people. You will be bringing the concepts of blockchain to a fairly ignorant (and likely non-technical) audience. I don't know that it will lead to much specific interest because they'll need to digest exactly how blockchain could be useful for their specific problems. Assuming someone is visionary and can see how blockchain would solve a specific problem, they are going to want to speak to a company who can provide them with a product to use. If there was a specific usage case being promoted that blockchain could solve, and you had a specific product to solve those problems, then I think this would be a great idea. The audience is not sophisticated enough to write their own blockchain applications, or take up the problem and run with it. So unless you have plans to specifically create a product to address specific problems in the space, I don't see that Factom will receive a lot of benefit from this.
We understand both sides of discussion but would like to put our support behindd this initiative. even if no clear path to commercilization this can spark interest in the international group of attendeees, and if Factom is mentioned in a favorable way it can still mean that these people will look to factom community and protocol when looking into if a solution is possible. If they get contact with sphereon or similar maybe something good comes of it.

that part is long shot, but we think this is the kind of initiative that brings legitimecy to projects. Also from those congress etc. participants often write summaries to their offices/unions etc and there is also possibility to get name out that way. Name recognition is important because when somone goes looking for solution they go to the name they heard first.
If June 30th is the deadline for the community to come to a decision. Time is of the essence.

I personally believe this is an excellent opportunity to enhance exposure and usage for the protocol and has the potential to amplify with time. Lets remember we are talking about 6K a protocol that dished out north of 7 figures last grant round.

Speaking as an individual here and not a representative of the Marketing Committee or MoF….
One idea to consider….Is the marketing committee funds this. If its successful…the Marketing Committee puts in a “back pay grant" next round or the round after…to fill up the reserves for the Marketing Committee to have the flexibility and adaptability to continue to seize opportunities like such.

What would the community consider objective measurables to grade this initiative as a success and would the community stand behind such a proposal for the Marketing Committee to fund this and receive a back pay grant, if deemed successful?

Thanks for your time!
Hey Everyone -

Thank you for the great feedback and discussion. There is a ton of repetitive feedback and I believe that is my error so I will take this opportunity to be direct and hopefully we can reach something worthwhile.

So hard deadline can be pushed to July 7th. This gives us the opportunity to discuss further.

The initial proposal to the community to help converge on something mutually agreeable so Iove the convo. I have already stated I am flexible!

With that said. In our paper we discussed 10 potential use cases for courts. We initially were going to come up with hypothetical design to showcase this. Since the community believes there are solutions, let's substitute the hypotheticals with your solutions. If you see something in the paper that is your ANO TELL ME! :) I have started a few channels with some of you. Some of you are replying so we are getting somewhere. If you choose not to respond, I can't incorporate things because well you didn't give concrete ideas.

This will still be academic even with your solutions, but it will indeed be fruitful in any case. I hear you all loud and clear and I do not say this as a defensive, but to drive home an under looked value prop. Ingo has 25+ years experience with post Soviet judicial systems and while you all have valid points on sales pitches, the experience and credibility he has with these institutions supersedes some of the suggestions.

This endeavour may not result directly in sales, but with Ingo and I there (yes talking about solutions if the funding comes through the community) comes with access to deep discussions and exposure on follow up. Do you find being invited back to speak to courts ( where they fund it) to train them on this topic fruitful? Ingo is littered on the internet with training judges in Kosovo and Usbek.

Again let's talk solutions, I am open, I hope the discussions moving forward can result in us creating action plan for writing up how your product can work for the court.

Greg, I am willing to discuss factom in every use case if there is one. The rest of the time will be blockchain info! Maybe 70% discussion 30% solutions.

Niels, Marteen is super responsive thank you. I also want to talk to you for a few technical pieces.

You guys rock. Thanks again.
Hey guys, Troy’s on the road so I’m responding for him.

Can confirm the 70/30 ratio @Greg Forst.

Also, here’s a bulleted list of value props for the Factom ecosystem from this opportunity:

-Factom will be the exclusive blockchain discussed at a conference of international jurists.

-Ingo has 25+ yrs experience court consulting in post soviet countries. Leading, respected expert in field of court metrics.

-Private networking amongst attendees will prominently include discussion of Factom. While hard selling is frowned upon, the relationships we develop here can absolutely lead to client relationships within international courts for products and services.

- Follow up training with courts on blockchain is a high probable follow-on. This will likely be a more in-depth version of the discussion at the conference, but over a longer period of time. (May also be interested in learning how certain things should be regulated, which open doors for us to drive discussion.)

- State administrators and judges beyond Kazakhstan will be there, some of which we already have a relationship.

- Professors from RMIT reached out to us about collaborating in the space and meeting in Kazakhstan. They currently run a blockchain hub. In addition to a partnership with W&M, this will bring another globally ranked university within proximity to Factom.

- The relationship between the conference and Factom funding researchers to attend is also news worthy next to the jurists that are attending. Not much different than the way the blockchain conference with major banks also sponsoring the event was mentioned.

Hope this helps!
Happy to report that @TroyWiipongwii presentation at the conference of international jurists in Kazakhstan went very well. He made a strong impression helping stakeholders understand the potential of blockchain, and Factom in particular, in court systems IT and administration, and has some exciting leads to follow up on in the coming months.

He’ll be writing a report and/or blog post for the protocol blog going into more detail soon. Thanks again to the Standing Parties that voted in favor of funding this opportunity.