OriginTrail 2021 expanded roadmap: Accelerating growth through Starfleet, Polkadot, and knowledge economy tools

Published in
15 min readJan 21, 2021


The launch of the OriginTrail Decentralized Network (ODN) in 2019 brought about a paradigm shift in handling data and delivering value for users based on integrity, interoperability, and interconnectivity. Then, the year 2020 saw an increased interest in using OriginTrail in enterprise and government sectors, with leading global organizations joining the group of innovators improving supply chain sustainability through trusted knowledge exchange. Firm community support, market validation, and solid partnerships from ecosystems like Polkadot, BSI, GS1, Oracle, the European-Union-supported Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, and others already taking part in co-developing the OriginTrail ecosystem as its users or partners have all been instrumental in delivering beyond-state-of-the-art technology.

Thanks to the Trace Alliance Working Group on Decentralization and Tokenomics — of which Parity Technologies is a member — and community members contributing in the Starfleet Task Force, significant development efforts have been invested in creating the Starfleet blockchain, the second blockchain to be utilized in OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph. Starfleet Chain enables increased efficiency and decoupling from the gas market of the Ethereum blockchain, making OriginTrail a multi-chain network. It provides a parallel consensus solution that relies entirely on TRAC and significantly lowers the barrier for publishing data holding jobs on the ODN, thus allowing organizations to use it at scale and provides a basis for the OriginTrail Knowledge Economy.

Support for additional blockchains beyond the Starfleet Chain (e.g., the upcoming blockchain ecosystems such as Polkadot) will enable integrating the benefits of their respective functionalities in the OriginTrail consensus layer, making the ODN a truly blockchain agnostic solution.

We expect the roadmap for 2021 will help bring the decentralized technology sector to a paradigm-shifting next stage, with multi-chain capabilities enabling much-needed sustainability and the cost performance necessary to keep OriginTrail on its trajectory towards becoming a bespoke part of the next generation internet. At the same time, it also brings heaps of opportunities for the OriginTrail community. A limited group of Starfleet pioneers will be the first to have access to all the benefits of the new, multi-chain OriginTrail network and will kickstart the OriginTrail Knowledge Economy together by using the first version of knowledge tools including a Uniswap-like mechanism for tokenized knowledge exchange. Those joining the pioneering next phase will provide pillars for the vastly increased scale and scope of services towards the full-fledged OriginTrail Knowledge Economy.

Connecting the (Polka)dots with the release of Starfleet and multi-chain ODN

The first Trace Alliance working group, Decentralization and Tokenomics, has been operational as of September 2020. The focus of the working group is to find innovative solutions to bring the OriginTrail ecosystem closer to a vision of blockchain agnosticism and make OriginTrail’s value proposition available across many other communities. We wrote the following in the 2017 OriginTrail whitepaper:

“The first version of OriginTrail utilizes the Ethereum blockchain to provide proof of concept and initial implementation. The fully developed solution will provide interfaces to many different blockchains.”

The first task of the working group is to ensure OriginTrail consensus layer scalability requirements of the fast-growing adoption which includes S&P 500 companies, EU consortia, and the leading standards bodies using the OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph. Meeting such requirements is undeniably tied to the ODN becoming a multi-chain network, evading the scalability challenges of any single consensus network or blockchain, thus bringing both economies of scale and scope to OriginTrail.

Last year, Polkadot was identified as a suitable path towards achieving that goal as it allowed not only multi-chain resilience but also more value retention within the OriginTrail ecosystem. Having Parity Technologies as an active partner in the Decentralization and Tokenomics working group in Trace Alliance already provided many crucial inputs seen in the 2021 roadmap. Among other developments, the Starfleet blockchain is being built utilizing Polkadot’s Substrate framework. These efforts have been further amplified by Trace Labs (the core development company of OriginTrail) getting selected for the Substrate Builders Programme, another engagement extending in 2021 as well.

The second activity of the Trace Alliance Decentralization and Tokenomics Working group has been the Starfleet blockchain initiative, driven by the OriginTrail community through the Starfleet Task Force, which has specified a detailed approach to OriginTrail becoming a multi-blockchain network through OT-RFC-07 Multichain OriginTrail Decentralized Network — Starfleet stage. Starfleet Blockchain development is well underway and will soon become the second blockchain that connects to the OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph. Several crucial preparation activities are already ongoing in the preparation stage for Starfleet, most notably the necessary security auditing procedures for Starfleet staking smart contracts.

Inspired by the famous Star Trek series and its interplanetary organization for conducting deep space exploration, research, defense, peacekeeping, and diplomacy, the Starfleet proposal introduces the community-operated OriginTrail Starfleet Chain.

To ensure the highest level of security, the team has taken a three-layer approach:

  1. Running a bug bounty security review program (open for all security researchers), started earlier this year,
  2. Executing an external audit to be conducted by our security partners Quantstamp
  3. Thorough internal audit performed by the OriginTrail Core Developers

The successful completion of the security review processes will lead to the initiation of the Starfleet Boarding procedure where OriginTrail community members will have the opportunity to be the first to board the dual-chain OriginTrail network by staking TRAC tokens. TRAC tokens will have to be transferred to their (1:1) equivalents on Starfleet blockchain — StarTRAC.

Following the launch of the Starfleet blockchain — which will happen within the Starfleet Blockchain launch window — the next stage of Starfleet-to-Ethereum bridging will kick off, aiming to deliver a two-way token bridge that will enable bidirectional transfers. More details on the bridge implementation are also to be released in a specific RFC by the Starfleet Task Force.

Both the Polkadot and Starfleet task force initiatives are expected to yield ongoing results throughout the year (as outlined in the roadmap) including:

  • Starfleet blockchain genesis: The launch of the first OriginTrail community blockchain, which will become the first non-Ethereum chain for ODN.
  • Polkadot integration RFC: The RFC will specify the best integration process between the ODN, Starfleet, and Polkadot. This will include confirmations such as the implementation path (parachain or parathread), seamless bridging of TRAC across chains, enabling the easy use of the ODN for other Polkadot users and others.
  • Polkadot integration: executing the optimal path to achieving ODN integration with Polkadot, safely transferring TRAC across chains and opening up ODN and OriginTrail Knowledge Tools to all Polkadot users.

OriginTrail Knowledge Economy for Incentivized Knowledge Exchange

We believe that sustainable supply chains are only possible through trusted knowledge exchange leading to more proactive information sharing, verification, monetization, and conscious decision-making.

In the year 2020, we saw plenty of examples shining a light on the currently broken state of the data economy. We started the year with devastating fires raging both in South America and Australia, which prompted many grassroots responses for a more sustainable future. At the same time, it also showed that consumers have very little visibility into the sustainability practices of the products and services they purchase. The pandemic of COVID-19 further showed that it’s not just the consumers that are in the dark. Many governmental organizations and medical retailers were severely struggling to ensure safe and certified essential protective equipment. Momentum also gathered against personally identifiable information being managed and appropriated for the benefit of tech monopolies, increasing awareness of the need for privacy and data sovereignty.

The only way we can achieve a sustainable data economy is by turning data into actionable knowledge and enabling all — organizations and individuals — to take part in the emerging knowledge economy in a sovereign, human-centric, and privacy-preserving fashion.

The OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph (DKG) has been at the core of this transition, turning data into structured, connected, and trusted knowledge. In 2021, we seek to elevate the three already supported “I’s” of the OriginTrail DKG — interoperability, interconnectivity, and integrity — and propose a suite of tools required to enable the “4th I” — incentivization. The four knowledge economy incentivization tools are: knowledge tokens, knowledge wallets, the knowledge marketplace, and knowledge tenders.

Despite being a new addition to the OriginTrail ecosystem, knowledge tools are not being built from scratch. It’s rather a continuation effort building on the components previously developed and tested in the scope of Next Generation Internet LEDGER, ATLANTIC, and DAPSI projects, the Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository, and the Decentralized EPCIS Repository. It is also an effort that will enable the value generation potential of the OriginTrail ecosystem to increase by several orders of magnitude. It’s a significant increase in the adoption potential due to amplified functionalities and expanded inclusiveness, allowing organizations and individuals to take part in the Knowledge Economy in multiple ways.

Knowledge tokens

Flexible data access control management has been of crucial importance for OriginTrail adoption and knowledge tokens (kTokens) are further extending these capabilities. Knowledge tokens are built utilizing standardized cryptographic (fungible or non-fungible) tokens that perform access control functionalities while having all the characteristics of other cryptographic tokens (e.g., transferability and usability in smart contracts).

Anyone holding valuable knowledge can create a kToken tied to it. Even more, kTokens can be tailored to fit a use case and allow for an entire token economy to be designed for a specific knowledge domain. By creating kTokens, the knowledge economy participants will be utilizing the existing blockchain ecosystem tooling for their exchange, dynamic market valuation (via TRAC market pairing), storage, and any upcoming standardized building blocks coming from the wider blockchain and DeFi space.

Knowledge tokens will be crafted continuing the work on data access control mechanisms based on the W3C DID standard, previously prototyped and tested through the scope of the Open Provenance Knowledge Graph project (OpenPKG) project (currently being developed through the NGI DAPSI project) as well as ongoing developments on the Knowledge Graph access control implemented in the OriginTrail graph permissioning features.

Knowledge wallet

The importance of “owning your keys” has been engraved into the minds of the global crypto community. Wallets, and cryptographic keypairs, have risen in importance also in the context of Decentralized Identities (DIDs) and the Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) framework — “own your keys, own your identity”. We are now extending this concept to using knowledge wallets to keep ownership over one’s knowledge — “own your keys, own your knowledge”. Knowledge wallets enable any individual, business, or institution to participate in the knowledge economy through marketplaces, tenders, consortia, and DAOs, enabling sophisticated knowledge access and monetization policies.

Initial prototypes of the concept have been implemented through the Decentralized EPCIS repository in the rail industry, developed together with the Swiss Railways SBB and the Open Provenance Knowledge Graph project (OpenPKG) for automated trusted DSAR processes.

Knowledge marketplace

A meeting place of supply and demand for knowledge. The marketplace is a crucial mechanism that facilitates knowledge exchange, especially in cases where stakeholders do not have a direct connection. The framework of a knowledge marketplace is fit for purchasing both knowledge (with different tools, such as with kTokens) as well as knowledge services. In the case of kTokens, it also extends the possibility to leverage liquidity-providing concepts, previously popularized by the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) space, to help with valorizing knowledge (finding a fair price for it).

The OriginTrail knowledge marketplaces will enable discovery and monetization throughout the DIKW pyramid spectrum — from large raw data sets to highly structured, verifiable, derived knowledge obtained from multiple sources (composable knowledge and kTokens), as well as common ontologies and powerful data and knowledge processing services and programs.

Knowledge marketplace development will also leverage previous work on data marketplaces, within the Food Data Market project (prototyped in NGI LEDGER and in deployment in NGI ATLANTIC) and the Laboratory Data Market project, deployed at TRL7 with relevant partners in the food industry (poultry farms and production), laboratories and technical partners, showing a clear way forward in utilizing domain-specific ontologies and moving towards the creation of knowledge marketplace tools.

Knowledge tenders

Unlike data, knowledge requires the crucial properties we discussed earlier — interoperability, interconnectedness, and integrity. These characteristics enable the fourth knowledge incentivization tool — knowledge tenders. By defining key components of the required knowledge (specific domain ontologies, data models, identifier schemes, identity frameworks, etc.), participants in the Knowledge Economy can use knowledge tenders to crowdsource knowledge. The first knowledge tender was utilized for crowdsourcing knowledge to create a Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository (TCESR) using the OriginTrail network (at TRL5). During the campaign, the OriginTrail community crowdsourced highly structured data on more than 16,000 products related to COVID-19 essential supplies and got TCESR selected for the World Economic Forum’s UpLink program.

The mentioned tools are being built to utilize the existing OriginTrail technology, extended by the new service layer, which will provide the necessary frameworks and tools to build even more services — such as data-to-knowledge and gateway services — further extending OriginTrail adoption in relevant contexts. For this reason, we will also be providing a framework for the Next Generation Internet to utilize the provided services and foster the self-sovereign, human-centric knowledge economy.

The Extended OriginTrail Tech Stack

Expanding TRAC utility with OriginTrail knowledge tools

The knowledge tools presented above, including the extension of the Decentralized Knowledge Graph functionalities in the service layer and OriginTrail becoming a multi-chain network, expand the utility of TRAC by orders of magnitude as well. The upgraded utility will be unlocked in the following ways:

  • Knowledge suppliers are companies and individuals that wish to publish knowledge on the OriginTrail DKG. For publishing their data holding jobs, they will continue to use TRAC to compensate Data Holders. In addition to that, they will be able to use TRAC to create kTokens for managing access to their published knowledge. Once they have created kTokens, they can use TRAC and their kTokens to set up a market for swapping between TRAC and kTokens on the Knowledge Marketplace (the Knowledge Marketplace leverages Automated Market Maker (AMM) protocols, very similar to how UniSwap or similar decentralized exchanges implementations work).
  • Knowledge consumers are companies and individuals interested in obtaining knowledge published on OriginTrail DKG. Apart from getting access to published knowledge by receiving direct permission (e.g., between business partners as they do today on the ODN), they will be able to get access to knowledge in even more ways, by using TRAC to obtain different versions of kTokens for any knowledge published on the Knowledge Marketplace (fungible or non-fungible). Additionally, knowledge consumers can use TRAC to create Knowledge Tenders — crowdsourcing requests for a specific piece of knowledge — and offer TRAC as compensation to those knowledge suppliers that deliver suitable results.
  • Consensus providers are a new group and are important for the OriginTrail ecosystem. They perform consensus layer services (validators, bridge operators) on the Starfleet blockchain for which they get compensated with TRAC.
  • OriginTrail DKG providers are the key fabric of the OriginTrail Decentralized Network — a group of more than 750 nodes globally and growing — and the OriginTrail nodes are expanding their capabilities as well. With the upcoming upgrades, nodes will have new service-layer functionalities that they will be able to offer on the Knowledge Marketplace and get compensated with TRAC for performing. These include data-to-knowledge services — allowing the node to execute secure, privacy-preserving data pipelines (e.g., performing data conversion and structuring between SAP export files and the EPCIS 2.0 JSON format) and gateway services — allowing advanced querying of the OriginTrail DKG as shown in the trusted oracle framework implementation (e.g., OriginTrail nodes acting as oracles for permissioned or public blockchains), and many other services which can be created by the open-source community.
  • Liquidity providers are any token holders that wish to support the OriginTrail Knowledge Economy by providing their TRAC as collateral for the optimized functioning of the Knowledge Economy. Liquidity providers can do that by providing TRAC to OriginTrail nodes and get exposed to the OriginTrail DKG providers market without the need to run any OriginTrail nodes themselves. In addition to that, they can provide their TRAC as liquidity in kToken markets to support knowledge assets that they believe generate the greatest interest and benefit from their exchange on the network (similar to how liquidity would be provided in UniSwap or other similar decentralized exchanges).

An updated strategy for OriginTrail adoption

As stated in the whitepaper, “OriginTrail is not a company but rather an ecosystem”. The ecosystem’s trajectory has prompted us to develop a two-pronged plan for the adoption of the technology which was first discussed in the previous roadmap update. The expansion of the OriginTrail value proposition and Trace token utility with the upcoming knowledge tools is expected to allow for new types of users that will benefit from technology as well as additional ways to attract these users. To name a few impactful examples:

  • Individuals taking control over their personal data (using OpenPGK-like tools), which is then structured, tokenized, controlled, and monetized using the knowledge tools;
  • Researchers and data scientists looking to continuously obtain and provide access to structured data sets (example: monetizing critical knowledge through Laboratory Data Marketplace-like data exchanges);
  • Engineers looking to build their apps based on human-centric and privacy-preserving knowledge exchange infrastructure (example: Food Data Marketplace);
  • Organizations in need of data to knowledge services to solve a particular business challenge, offering compensation through knowledge crowdsourcing campaigns (example: Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository Open Call)

To seize the potential of the Knowledge Economy tools, in addition to the two-pronged approach described earlier, we plan to carry out new types of activities we involved in the extended roadmap and have Trace Alliance spearheading more activities based on the principle of inclusiveness (Trace Alliance Working Group on Knowledge Economy Ecosystem, OriginTrail Evangelist Program). As we have always advocated for a lean approach towards continuously making adoption happen, more activities are to be carried out once the planned tools reach an appropriate development stage.

The 2021 roadmap update

The updated roadmap takes into account a need expressed by OriginTrail users and builders for a vastly more scalable and efficient network capable of supporting the economies of scale and scope in using the services provided. We expect that this noticeably expanded roadmap will allow the OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph to grow at an increased rate. This will be achieved through important technological enhancements before us and by combining the traditional approach (enterprise focus) towards growth and long-term collaboration with the most reputable builders, such as Polkadot’s Parity Technologies. We are looking forward to continuous improvements and expansion of value delivered in the OriginTrail ecosystem.

Q1 — Starfleet

  • Starfleet Boarding activities
    Registration phase via boarding.origintrail.io
    Preparation, smart contract audits, bug bounty
    Staking phase (up to 50MM TRAC)
  • Starfleet blockchain mainnet launch
    Warp ODN v5 multi-chain testnet
    Starfleet blockchain testnet launch
    Starfleet API access (RPC) service v1 launch
    Technical review through Substrate Builders Program
    nOS liquidity provisioning integration update for Starfleet
    First batch of Starfleet Chain Validators activated (TBA)
  • Custodianship services support introduced to enable institutional access to the TRAC token
  • Data-to-knowledge services, based on GS1 EPCIS and W3C Verifiable Credentials standards and the OriginTrail decentralized knowledge graph, introduced at the GS1 Global Forum
  • Extending OT node enterprise readiness by enabling cluster setup for high availability
  • Trace Alliance Decentralization and Tokenomics Working Group, Polkadot Initiative publication: Polkadot Integration RFC (OriginTrail v5.1 proposal)
  • OriginTrail 101 course at the Ivan on Tech Academy launched in collaboration with Amos Thomas
  • Trace Alliance Working Group on Supply Chain & Interoperability established
  • OpenPKG for protecting personally identifiable information
    Public beta release
    Global identity provider partnership
  • Technical Whitepaper 2.0
    OriginTrail Knowledge Economy Phase introduction
    Future development fund governance established (roadmap confirmation mechanics defined)
  • TGS target: 10,000,000

Q2 — Dual Chain OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph

  • Dual-chain ODN v5 mainnet launch
    DC nodes publishing data holding jobs on Starfleet blockchain-enabled
    DH nodes bidding for published offers on Starfleet blockchain
  • Decentralized EPCIS repository extension
    EPCIS 2.0 support
  • Trusted BYTES Innovate UK project kick-off
  • Next Generation Internet update — Data marketplaces deployed in US & EU
  • OpenPKG v1 release for ODN v5 mainnet
  • ODN data holding market price optimization
    Automatic price adjustment machine learning plugin (AAP) v1 release
  • Trace Alliance — OriginTrail evangelist program launch
  • Trace Alliance Polkadot Initiative publication: Polkadot integration progress report
  • Trace Alliance Working Group on Knowledge Economy Ecosystem established
  • Knowledge Tools RFCs published for public review
  • Liquidity services RFC published for public review
  • Gateway services RFC published for public review
  • Data-to-knowledge services RFC published for public review
  • Starfleet — Ethereum Bridge RFC
  • TGS target: 30,000,000

Q3 & Q4 — Knowledge Economy phase & Multi-chain OriginTrail Decentralized Network

  • Knowledge tools v1 release
    Knowledge Tokens (kTokens)
    Knowledge Wallet (kWallet)
    Knowledge Marketplace
    Knowledge Tenders
    Data-to-knowledge services
    Liquidity services
  • Decentralized Knowledge Graph improvements
    Extending semantic support (RDF, OWL, SPARQL)
    Subgraph permissioning v2 (Additional permissioning feature enhancements)
    Replication protocol update
    Houston update
  • OriginTrail Next Generation Internet Framework released for easier integration with NGI projects
  • Polkadot integration — implementation stage according to Trace Alliance Initiative roadmap
  • Starfleet Bridge launch window
    Bridge preparation and security review
    Bridge implementation and deployment
    Polkadot interoperability framework
  • TGS target: 100,000,000

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OriginTrail is the Decentralized Knowledge Graph that organizes AI-grade knowledge assets, making them discoverable & verifiable for sustainable global economy.