Research success for Dr Mick Lockwood as he explores the future of Self-Sovereign Identity

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

Congratulations to Dr Mick Lockwood, Lecturer in Digital Design in the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology, whose research around Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) has been published in two insightful journal articles this month.

SSI is a term used to describe the digital movement that recognises an individual should own and control their identity without intervening administrative authorities.

“Self-Sovereign Identity is at the cutting edge of Internet development and promises to deliver a number of mechanisms to protect identity, privacy, and personal information,” explains Mick. “In addition, the capability to control personal information and data opens a multitude of opportunities for innovation and disruption.”

He explains that peer to peer commerce, intent casting, KYC, health and social care, quantifiable self, real world security, biometric verification, the internet of things and democracy through data, are some examples of where SSI unlocks the potential spectrum of ground-breaking innovation.

The articles were published in Blockchain for Good, a trusted global forum on Blockchain (a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system). The journal explores and debates the philosophical, practical, political, theoretical, social, and environmental implications of this exciting technology.

The research followed on from Mick’s interest in location-based media and the development of open-source mapping technologies.

“Within this work a focus is placed on the free and open exchange of personal data and media. This work progressed through to the control of personal information and identity, and more recently the advent of Blockchain technology and its capability not only to disrupt the financial system but also its potential to enable an identity layer for the internet,” he said.

The first of the research articles, An Accessible Interface Layer for Self-Sovereign Identity, explores how the mechanisms and evolving standards collectively known as SSI can offer the prospect of a decentralized Internet by providing a central pillar for a human-centred data ecosystem (HCDE). Once established this technology promises to afford participants the same agency in the digital realm as individuals experience in the real world.

Mick also presents research exploring the balancing of interactive friction and value proposition in the context of SSI technology adoption, in his paper Exploring Value Propositions to Drive Self-Sovereign Identity Adoption. His work extends a related investigation of a full agency engagement with a User-Centred Data Ecosystem utilising what is described as a Sovereign Boundary Mechanism (SBM).

Mick added: “There are now two wicked problems associated with a true self-sovereign identity layer for the internet, neither of which are related to technology. The first is the design problem of putting an accessible interface layer in the hands of the everyday user. The second is the adoption strategy needed to seed and sustain a Human Centred Data Eco-System, this again is a design challenge that requires a boarder conceptual lens outside of traditional technology development. Both areas have been explored as part of my doctoral study and these initial papers capture much of this process and resulting outcome.”

Mick joined the University of Salford in 2006 and before that was employed by BT within their Radical Multi Media Lab in Adastral Park, Martlesham. During this time Mick was part of a creative community with a remit to invent and develop new multimedia technologies. His areas of research interest centre around Data Privacy, Privacy by Design, Decentralised Internet and Self-Sovereign-Identity.

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