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Chaîne – Technical Direction

July 7, 2020

Two important data management concepts that we want to inculcate in the climate data ecosystem are: 

  1. Decentralisation – To enhance availability as well as the ease and security of access.

  2. Collaboration – To make bidirectional data sharing, between nations/companies and concerned citizens, participatory and transparent in nature.

The technologies that epitomise these two concepts are IPFS and Git respectively:

 

IPFS

The InterPlanetary File System is a blockchain-based storage network that provides immutable persistent content via resilient access anywhere in the world. Quoting from the IPFS site, it’s "A peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol designed to make the web faster, safer, and more open."

 

Git

The mention of the term “open source” conjures up images of projects on GitHub. The Open Source movement is the best representation of participation and transparency. If you’re technically inclined, when you think of Git, you think of code under version control being shared.

 

Besides these two technologies that form the foundation of our thought process, some of the other technological advancements that have captured our imagination and have tried to incorporate the attractive features of the aforementioned products are:

 

  • OrbitDB - An IPFS for Databases
    The textual data that we extract from the files uploaded by the countries and NDCs will be stored in a relational database and can be accessed via a public API. We plan to use OrbitDB for storing this relational data to ensure decentralization of this data as well.

  • Version Control in IPFS
    Turns out, IPFS doesn’t support version control natively but the fellow denizens of the interwebs have come up with their own solutions. We chanced upon IPVC (https://github.com/martindbp/ipvc), which seems quite close to what we require.

  • Dolt and DoltHub – Git and GitHub for Databases
    The data sharing mechanism implemented in DoltHub makes it possible to keep your local clone in sync with the original database schemas (repositories in GitHub)  on the cloud. In our system, we plan to maintain an audit trail of the documents submitted by the countries, along with their IPFS references. We aim to use the aforementioned feature of DoltHub to allow the countries to keep their copy of the audit trail in sync with ours.

 

As delineated in the following diagram, Chaîne’s focus is purely on the storage of the documents and data. Analysis of data is out of scope. There are many groups already doing superb work evaluating and visualizing the data, such as the Climate Action Tracker and the researchers at PIK, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

 

 

 

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