Use cases for Steem blockchain

in #blockchain2 years ago (edited)

Steem was labelled as a blockchain for curating content. Personally I was not of the opinion to limit the blockchain to a content curation solution. I will talk "why" I felt so at a later point and focus on some of the use cases that I can think of.

To begin with, we need to look at Steem blockchain with a different perspective.

What is Steem blockchain capable of doing ?

Steem is a blockchain with zero transaction fee, usage quota to avoid spam, messaging capabilities, escrow & ability to store large amounts of information. The blockchain also has the ability to keep versions of the data with the new edit-previous-post feature. The information stored on the chain by a certain account can be accessed by other accounts based on multi-sig keys.

To support development of DApps there are libraries (SDKs) in popular programming languages like Python, NodeJS, Ruby & experimental libraries in Go-Lang & may other languages. There are even community provided libraries like beem and PHP libraries which are matured projects themselves.

Most of the projects on Steem blockchain are open source & there are event projects like Utopian and @steemtank which does absolutely wonderful but near absurd and impossible act of rewarding open source contributors with money. No other blockchain has it.

Oh, yes, this little brat, me, was able to get in touch with the like of a small company called Intel to perform some tests with Steem blockchain.

Lets look closer

Everything from the above paragraph sounds like an enterprise platform with SDKs to develop applications. This sounds like the Hyper Ledger stack from IBM, Sounds like Quorum from JP Morgan Chase with the exception of privacy oriented architecture. Steem blockchain has successfully implemented RocksDB which is an enterprise class data base. It also has a in-memory database called ChainBase.

The chain is written in C++ which is very fast unlike an interpreted language like Java in which certain chains like IOTA is written. The libraries used like are used extensively in numerous applications including blockchains, databases and even application like Photoshop. We can also look at the code base which is open and also make out that the same code base powers Bitshares, EOS, GOLOs, SCORUM and may be many other public chains. Its also possible that there are private deployments using the same code base. The end result is, we have a code base that is tested extensively over the years by thousands of people. Its has gone through enhancements and rebranding. Multiple teams have written applications like Steem, EOS like implementation, Bitshares which is essentially a financial exchange with full fledged features etc.

So ?

We seem to have a great product at our hand, a general purpose platform which can cater to multiple use cases. May be what we have is,

A general purpose blockchain which can exist in the enterprise space with its rock solid track record and arguably one of the most tested.

Lets have a look at the use cases

For the assumption of a general purpose blockchain to be true, there should be multiple use cases. So lets examine what we can do with this chain.

Use Case I : Volunteer Assignment for a Citizen Audit of Natural disaster Damage assessment

Couple of months ago many of us had the misfortune of developing an end to volunteer management platform. The problem statement was something like this - mobilize close to 100K volunteers in 5 days and design a mechanism for designated government officials to interact with them. A province which was struck by natural disaster was grouped into around 1100 units and each was assigned to a liaison officer. The liaison officers will then report to couple of hundred officers, those officers to 14 others and finally to one central control room.

Volunteers were able to pull of the impossible task of implementing the software and we were able to on board volunteers, communicate them with SMS messages, provide dash boards for various officials etc. Needless to say media (TV, Radio, Print & Social Media ) helped the field-volunteer on boarding.

The survey was completed - in record time.

But when the survey was happening couple of the technical volunteers, to be precise 2 of us with access to the database saw strange patterns like thousands of homes surveyed in few hours, in some places the number of volunteers shown interest was very high, but only a few reported for duty, even a lesser number was actually working.

We called few of the volunteers and some of the liaison officers. To our surprise we found out that some of the liaison officers were not government employees, some of the volunteers were angry about not able to help.

The reality was, there were lot of confusions and till date there is no public data available as to how many volunteers registered, how many of them were used and who did the audit of which area.

Enter Steem blockchain, we could have at the most basic level created a post with "survey of area1" & and all the related assignments under it. Obviously with private information masked. The actions on the "Survey of Area1" can be as simple as "replies" aka "comments". This could have given us a beautiful, public, immutable "Audit-Trail".

Use Case II: Post Disaster Needs Assessment Data store

For various reasons, we learned that its important to have any damage assessment to be stored in a public facing interface as explained in the Use Case I. Further, its also mandatory to have not just an audit-trail but we need an immutable (military grade if possible to prevent corruption) mechanism.

Lets look at a home which was damaged in the flood & survey was carried out by the Volunteer management software described in Use Case I.

The photo below is taken by me on November 25th, 2018 - close to 3 months after the flood.


(Location:,76.0814583 , Date November 25th, 2018)


  • Which volunteer did the survey ?

  • What was captured in the survey ?

  • Was any compensation given ?

  • What is the current status of the relief activities if any ?

  • Ok, Was this place even surveyed ?

  • Oh! wait, What proof you have that this damage happened in the flood ? - can you show me the information from say, September 2018 ?

  • What happened to the people who were living here ?

  • Where do they live now ?

Sorry, right now there is no way to find answers for any of the above. Lets assume that the data was captured into a OpenStreetmap layer somewhere in a database and we got access to it. There is no way to track whether the data captured is altered or not.

May, Steem can very easily track this data on the chain ?


Use Case IV: Fund Allotment & Dispersal

So, we all now that governments and NGOs like UN spends lots of funds. Even the latest mission impossible talked about the work of NGOs.

Mission Impossible

(The MI team @ the NGO camp)

So lets some inspiration from the movie and look into the aspects of how an NGO & Government works. We can see some similarities as both NGOs and Government agencies set aside funds and then disperse it among the needy people, in the needy regions and for the causes.

So lets try to find some answers:

  • Is there a way to find the fund usage of an international NGO in say India ?
  • There are various government schemes dispersing funds - can we get public reports ? (with OpenDATA and Open.Gov its possible to certain extend.)
  • Insurance claims and dispersal - is there a way to track ?

I am limiting this particular use case to avoid writing about any specific and I am leaving it ambiguous.

The value proposition a public chain like Steem can offer unlike a private chain is that, with the abundance of open source projects and tools, its possible for governments and NGOs to put their fund allotments, expenses, dispersals etc on this chain.

Use Case IV: Tracking construction of public infrastructure


(The Road : location,76.0770944 )

The above image is a public infrastructure, paid for by the tax payers & is the ONLY road for close to 1000 people living in the area. There few bridges and a check dam too.

Wait Road ?

Oh, yea, this is a road in the most progressive province of India by the name Kerala. This road is frequented by school buses, motor cycles and the famous Indian Tuk-Tuks aka auto rickshaws. This road also is used by tractors which carry agricultural equipment around. The story is not over, there is a pump house somewhere there, there is an electric fence all over which prevents wild animals from roaming to this area from the forest across the river.

Just like me, I was not able to see any road or fencing. What we can clearly see is there is some grass and whenever there is no grass, its sand. Apparently when the flood waters came, the river was over fllowing (which I think needs a Civil Engineering Degree to identify) & its washed away all the bitumen as it was icing on the cake.

We can ask many questions here:

  • Who was contractor who built this road ?
  • Why was the road built like an "Icing on the cake" which just washed away ?
  • What special methods were deployed to construct this road ?
  • How much money was spend on this road ?
  • How was periodic monitoring done ?

Oh, Perhaps they should have used Steem blockchain and put answers of above questions in there with time stamp. Some of the photos during the construction could have been nice too.

Looks like Steem as a blockchain can do quite a lot of things.

QUESTION: I have given a proposal for a similar project to certain Government agency. Can I use Steem for it ?**



Use Case V: Tracking Medicine Shipment (Supply Chain)

It so happens that medicines and vaccines have batch numbers & needless to say many under developed countries get tons (yes, tons) of medicines as donation from various sources.

There is a catch though - Many of the medicines that is received are useless because they will be expired. Many organizations uses human crisis as unique opportunities in the case of medicines crisis is an excellent opportunity to dump them.

This was also a real world scenario and I had the misfortune to receive 1.8 Tons of medicines and hand over to a government agency. I am clinging on the photographs and other details even now.

Going back to the scenario, many chains like Hyper Ledger are projecting themself in the supply chain sector. It is also essential to provide secrecy in the commercial supply chain for the private entities. But when it comes to the Private Sector to Government shipping, such secrecy should be avoided and permissions can be used to provide access.

For a pure public facing distribution mechanism of medicines, food grains and other similar material on the other hand a public chain is well suited. Steem can be used to in this scenario as well.


Use Case V: Escrow for real world transactions

Escrow is one of the most powerful features of the Steem blockchain. We have extensive use cases like @dstors under the wraps. But there are very active existing uses.


I don't want to write about it but the most innovative use of Steem blockchain can be witnessed here:


Use Case VI: Non Fungible Tokens (ERC - 721)

ERC-721 is a standard for Non Fungible Tokens. It is possible to mimic the functionality of ERC-721 specifications on the Steem blockchain. I am aware that @steemmonsters is doing something similar.

At this point I will not be disclosing much about this as certain project along the similar lines is in progress.


The above discussion is taken from various discussions and incidents where I found it was possible to use Steem blockchain. Some of them had readily available proof of concepts and some are in progress. If one person encounters so many possible use cases of a technology platform in a time span of 6 months, it seems the platform has lot of potential. I am absolutely not an expert in economics or markets so I will make any comment. But, I see a platform capable of doing many things which many popular platforms claim they can do. I see opportunities and multiple use cases.

I will not ask anyone to stay calm or make any comments. I won't even say change the marketing or branding narrative. Its upto you to find opportunities and be part of something. I am going to use this platform to build few things and expects the platform to be around.

Witness Vote Request : the servers are damn expensive!

REQUEST: I run a witness (now with a primary and secondary), & if you think my selfish objectives to make use of the Steem platform for my selfish needs, I would love to get an upvote. :-)


Great examination of the fundamental characteristics and capabilities of the Steem blockchain.

These are great real world examples that really put flesh on the bones of the theoretical stuff.

Well done.

You have my witness vote.

You have my witness vote.
I am honored ....

These are great real world examples that really put flesh on the bones of the theoretical stuff.

Usability like I mentioned above AFIK may not be possible after HF20 because of the RC limitations. ie, imagine we give accounts to citizen volunteers performing survey of roads. The volunteers may soon run out of RC to make any transactions on the chain. The implementation of RC in the first place was to fight spam but it has made the chain more or less "resource constrained" and expensive for the end users like EOS. May be the SMTs will create a situation where SMT holders can interact with the chain the same pre HF20 manner.

Unless I am mistaken, HF20 + no SMT is going to limit the usability of chain for generic purposes.

Looks like this instance of using open blockchain technology in solving real-world problems has far-reaching implication for the whole cryptocurrency industry. We'll be paying attention to this.

Airhawk came to mind once I saw Escrow.

Yea, Airhawk is an innovative idea. very very innovative & uses P2P concepts in its true sense.

The fact that it's created and managed by Nigerians made me (1) proud (2) realize just how much the Steem blockchain can liberate people from the shackles of the current powers that be. I have never used a service run in my country and left satisfied. Then I met Airhawk-exchange. No surprises though, I mean it's still technically is a service ran outside the country; once more affirming how harsh the business environment on ground really is.

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I liked your thought process and how you see the use cases for Steem. Followed you

good ideas, although too many seem to be conflating between steem's rewards for content with valuation of SP, and the utility of the blockchain. plenty of blockchains can be for businesses and various use cases as well. (or for SMTs)

although too many seem to be conflating between steem's rewards for content with valuation of SP, and the utility of the blockchain.

Agree - with current announcements that the content curation model has failed, perhaps the general purpose use cases makes more sense ?

Since content monetization doesn't seem to work,

"What is the unique value Proposition of Steem Blockchain ? "

The content discovery and rewards platform is the most important thing to get right. It’s failing because the economic incentives are wrong. More details on my page

Oh man, I am unable to vote for this post. I missed this!

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