Staff News – Cecilia Miller judges Blockchain Hackathon

I was excited to be asked to be part of the judging panel at a Blockchain Hackathon which took place at Strathclyde University at the weekend hosted by Girl Geek Scotland and Legal Hackers Scotland in partnership with Scotchain 17.


What is a Blockchain Hackathon I hear you all ask?

Good question. A Hackathon is a design sprint like event in which computer programmers, software developers and others collaborate intensively on software projects. The goal of a Hackathon is to create useable software, in this case using Blockchain in order to solve recognisable problems.

Blockchain is, in simplistic terms, a method by which data is stored and is inherently resistant to modification of that data. It is extremely secure, making it potentially suitable for many applications such as the storage of medical records, financial information and use in official identification.

It also has the potential for use in traditional legal services involving any transaction where a payment is to be made. I think, however, there is still some time to go before lawyers are replaced with computers!


The main event

Six teams gathered to compete in the Hackathon for a monetary prize and a chance to pitch their idea at Scotland’s leading Blockchain Conference, so there was all to play for.

All six teams worked extremely hard and intensively over the weekend period starting at 6pm on Friday and not finishing until 6pm on Sunday.

It was my job to consider each idea pitched by all of the teams and then deliberate those with my fellow judges to determine a winner.

The ideas were all innovative and ranged from a system secure enough whereby no-one could access your medical records without your specific digital authority to the verification of reviews on websites (apparently over 40% of the reviews on trip advisor are fake – an amazing statistic!). It was extremely difficult to pick a winner from the very high standard of the teams involved and we judges took more than an hour and a half to debate, discuss and decide upon the outcome (we were only supposed to have half an hour!).


Time to announce the winners

The team who carried off the winner’s trophy were called Trustchain and their idea was the verification of online reviewers. Bad reviews by competitors can cost organisations large amounts of money in terms of lost business. Hopefully, their idea will be taken forward and they will find investors who will assist in the production and development of their proposals.

The whole experience was an extremely enjoyable and fascinating one. The wealth of knowledge and dedication in the room from the teams was quite inspiring.

My thanks to Arlene McDaid of Legal Hackers Scotland for inviting me to be on the panel.


Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policy makers, technologists and academics who explore and develop creative solution to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology.