Interoperability is Not a Choice

Margo Johnson
Published in
3 min readMar 24, 2021

This post describes Transmute’s approach to interoperable software and includes video and technical results from a recent interoperability demonstration with US DHS SVIP cohort companies.

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

The future of software is all about choice.

Customers want to chose technology that best solves their business problems, knowing that they will not be locked in with a vendor if that solution is no longer the best fit.

Businesses are also demanding choice about when and how they consume important data — a reaction to the data silos and expensive systems integrations of the past.

Interoperability moves from theory to reality when companies have meaningful ability to choose. It is predicated on open standards foundations that enable easy movement of data and vendors.

Interoperability with DHS SVIP Companies

Our team was proud to participate in the US Department of Homeland Security Silicon Valley Innovation Program Interoperability Plug-fest this month. DHS SVIP has been leading the charge on interoperability for years now, putting their funding and networks on the table to lead the charge.

This was Transmute’s second time participating as an awarded company of the SVIP program, and we were joined by 7 other companies from around the globe, addressing topics from supply chain traceability to digital assets for humans.

While each company is focused on slightly different industries — and therefore nuanced solutions for those customers — we are all committed (and contractually obligated by the US Government) to implement open standards infrastructure in a way that ensures verifiable information can be issued, consumed, and verified across systems using different technical “stacks”.

Technical foundations for interoperability include the W3C Verifiable Credential Data Model, JSON Linked Data, the Verifiable Credentials HTTP API, and the Credential Handler API. Companies also worked from shared vocabularies based on use case, such as the Traceability Vocabulary that aggregates global supply chain ontologies for use in linked data credentials.

The following two videos show examples of interoperability in action using both Transmute and other cohort company systems. Note that the use cases have been simplified to allow for ease of demonstration to diverse audiences.

Transmute and other companies also publicly shared the results of our interoperability testing — Transmute’s results are here.

Interoperability in steel supply chain

Transmute is working directly with US Customs and Border Protection to trace the origins of steel materials using verifiable credentials. This video shows an example of multiple steel supply chain actors exchanging verifiable trade information culminating in a seamless review process from CBP.

Interoperability in a Supply Chain Scenario

Interoperability across industries

We also worked with other cohort companies to demonstrate how important credentials like a vaccination certificate can be used to help supply chain professionals get back to work safely. This demo includes the use of selective disclosure technology as well as off-line verification of a paper credential.

Selective Disclosure in an Audit Scenario

Charting the Course

Interoperability across systems moves the internet towards a more open-network approach for trustworthy exchange of information. Choice is increasingly becoming the network feature that governments and enterprises will not do without. It is pre-competitive table stakes for doing business. The path is clear for those of us developing technology in this space: interoperate, or get out. Fortunately, the competitive “pie” is big enough for all of us.

By creating interoperable systems that can seamlessly exchange trusted information we are creating a global network of information that grows in value as more players enter it.

Transmute is proud to build with talented teams from around the globe, including our cohort friends: Mattr, Mavennet, Mesur, Digital Bazaar, Secure Key, Danube Tech, and Spherity.

Thank you also to the DHS SVIP team for funding this interoperability work, and to our partners at US CBP for your support moving from technology to tactical solutions.

To learn more about Transmute’s platform and solutions contact us today.