MIT Energy Initiative’s Graham Turk hosts VIA’s CEO Colin Gounden on location at MIT for VIA Visionaries interview

The month of April is filled with reasons to celebrate our mission here at VIA: making our communities cleaner, safer, and more equitable. During April, we celebrate Earth Day, Drive Electric Earth Month, and one of our favorite VIA Visionaries interviews, which happened to be on location at MIT, with a dear friend of VIA’s, Graham Turk.

This VIA Visionaries interview was particularly special for us, it was the first time we were on location, and at MIT to boot. We’ve also known Graham for some time, dating back to when he was Head of Customer Care at Green Mountain Power, a company well known for providing 100% carbon-free electricity to 266,000 customers across Vermont.

Before recapping the interview, let’s dive into Graham’s impressive background.

Behind the scenes with Graham Turk and Colin Gounden at MIT.

Graham has dedicated his career to promoting clean energy through research, innovation strategies, customer care, and teaching. Currently, he is a Graduate Research Assistant at the MIT Energy Initiative where he studies the impacts of rapid electrification and explores tariff designs to promote the adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps (an Earth Day great!). 

Prior to this, he held several roles at Green Mountain Power, where his innovative leadership led to pioneering programs in battery storage, electric vehicle charging, and flexible demand management. Earlier in his career, as a Fulbright Scholar at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, Graham conducted research on energy markets and built a small-scale prototype of a peer-to-peer energy trading platform. His commitment to sustainable practices and his ability to unravel complex energy challenges make him an exemplary leader in the clean energy space.

Chatting live on camera at MIT for 30 minutes, Colin and Graham covered an array of topics including why he chose to join a utility, how he sees renters participating in the energy economy, and all about his blog, The Power Trip which covers energy market pricing (go check it out!). Early in the interview, Colin asked Graham about the project he was most proud of at Green Mountain Power and his answer reinforced why we consider him a VIA Visionary on this Earth Day:

We were able to work with the State House in Vermont. They had an old diesel generator in their basement and instead of replacing it with another diesel generator for backup, they put a battery inside of it that we were able to use for similar purposes, like bringing down costs for all customers. So, the Vermont State House at that point was the first state house in the country to have batteries for all of its emergency loads. A fun little trivia question, if anyone ever asks that at Thursday trivia!”

Colin chimed in with another fun fact: 

“It’s a good observation. Government buildings, in some instances, can be the first trials for lots of things. I want to say, The White House had solar panels put on it in the 70s, some of the first solar panels, because they could!”

Watch the full video below to hear Graham talk about other projects he was proud of at Green Mountain Power, including one with Tesla!

We’re thrilled to showcase Graham’s passion for clean energy and fixing utility rates for our communities as part of our “What’s your mission?” Earth Day series. Thank you again, Graham and the gracious folks at MIT, for hosting our first on location VIA Visionaries livestream.

Follow along on VIA’s website and social media (LinkedIn, X, Instagram, Threads) for the latest on how we are living our mission each day and to keep an eye out for our next VIA Visionaries interview. 

Fast and Curious 7: Verified Computation using ZKPs

After the success of our Fast and Curious blog series on blockchain and ZKPs, we’ve had many questions from our customers about how we balance privacy and verification. So, watch the special, 2-minute Director’s Cut video below to learn how we accomplish this!

Below is a transcript of the video:

Welcome to a Director’s Cut, extra edition of our series on ZKPs. 

We had terrific interest in our original series from last year. Today, we’re going to address one question that came up from a customer about balancing privacy and verification

In our previous videos, we used the example of verifying things like carbon used by a vehicle. We explained how a ZKP could be used to keep the data private, like, time, date, location, and owner of the vehicle, and yet, still prove its carbon usage. 

The question our customer had was: How do I know the calculation was done correctly, especially if I can’t see the data? 

That’s a good question! 

In most cases, verification and privacy are at odds. The traditional way that you verify something is you audit it and look at all the data, but that’s the opposite of privacy. 

So, let’s take an example. 

The U.S. and Europe have different ways to calculate carbon. How do I know that a company applied the right standard or any standard for that matter to compute its carbon for a specific vehicle? Well, in this case, the calculation or the math is public and our latest generation of ZKPs can be used to verify the calculations. 

So, as long as the math is not a trade secret or proprietary algorithm, any third party can independently verify that the calculation is performed as promised without having to share the original data and without having to redo the whole calculation again. 

This is particularly valuable when not only is the data private, but also when there’s a lot of data, like billions of rows of data, or the calculation is pretty complicated. So, you have a lot of computation power that might be needed and you don’t really want to redo the whole data set and the calculation again.

This kind of verified computation is a new feature in the latest generation of ZKPs that we’re using. And, for a lot of things like carbon and energy verification, it’s pretty useful. 

Feel free to reach out to us at VIA to learn more about how we’re applying ZKPs to create a no trade-off solution for verification and privacy for big enterprises.

Can’t get enough of these Fast and Curious videos? Well, we want to hear from you! What topics should we cover next? Drop a note in our inbox to let us know:


Testing decentralized storage speed

Long time VIA blog readers will know that VIA focuses on military-grade and enterprise-grade Web3 components for data privacy like zero-knowledge proofs. But where is all that data stored? In the Web3 world, IPFS is a standard for decentralized storage. Is a private version of decentralized storage ready for the enterprise?

We’re going to focus on speed. Decentralized storage has claims of being faster than centralized storage. We decided to test that with our own private deployment of decentralized storage and publish the results for you.

For our testing, we put four files of different sizes (114 bytes, 6.2Mb, 311 MB, and 933 MB) on a node in Japan. We also created a node in our local region of the East Coast of North America. 

As expected, the download times for when we accessed the file without a local node varied by file size. The download times for each file size was relatively consistent:

File Size Average Range
114 bytes 292ms 288ms to 293ms
6.2 Mb 1.84s 1.58s to 2.14s
311 MB 20.33s 19.77s to 22.09s
933 MB 62.67s 60s to 65s

In comparison, decentralized storage was:

  1. Significantly faster on all downloads for a smaller file (initial download and subsequent downloads)
  2. Slower on initial download for larger files
  3. Significantly faster on subsequent downloads for larger files

Here are the times for the initial file downloads:

File Size Average Range
114 bytes 155ms 155ms
6.2 Mb 2.6s 2.5s to 2.7s
311 MB 76s 76s
933 MB 237.5s 235s to 240s

Here are the times for subsequent file downloads:

File Size Average Range
114 bytes 9.45ms 3ms to 36ms
6.2 Mb 70.6ms 49ms to 109ms
311 MB 4.06s 3.59s to 4.74s
933 MB 17.28s 15s to 19.11s

Of course, it’s not just that the same user would receive faster downloads for the same file on subsequent attempts. As Web3 pros will know, any authorized user nearby would get routed to the local node and therefore benefit from the increased speeds. The greater the number of users in different locations, the greater this benefit.

In the context of a private decentralized storage deployment, administrators can force nodes to clean up and remove files when needed if they don’t want something in one location. Administrators can also “pin” content to a specific node (location) if they want to make sure something is always available. 

For you visual learners, here are the summary results:

Watch a quick demo video below:

Our takeaway is that decentralized storage has a speed advantage over centralized storage for enterprises where:

  1. There is a highly geographically distributed user base 
  2. There is interest in dynamically allocating files to specific locations to optimize file download times

Follow VIA’s website and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Threads) to catch the latest!


Former WSJ White House Correspondent and Senior Director at Circle, Jared Favole, interviewed during VIA live stream

VIA had the pleasure of hosting Jared Favole, Senior Director, Communications and Policy at Circle and former White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal at VIA’s headquarters in Somerville two weeks ago. Jared joined us for our first-ever live streamed event. VIAneers in Somerville, Montreal, and viewers from around the globe tuned in to hear VIA’s CEO, Colin Gounden, interview Jared Favole to discuss all things blockchain and domestic and foreign policy.

Circle is a global financial technology firm and the issuer of USDC and Euro Coin – highly liquid, interoperable, and trusted money protocols on the internet.

One of our favorite quotes from Jared during the event ties to the benefits of digital currencies over cash:

“The traditional way to deliver aid, particularly in the middle of a war zone or strife, sometimes amounts to literally flying a plane and dropping a palette of cash … if you tried to create an innovation called “cash” today, it would not get approved.”

Jared also shared his experience while being a White House Correspondent, his thoughts on how to make blockchain work in the future, and answered a number of excellent questions submitted from audience members on social media, the live chat, and in person. The full recording of the 45-minute discussion is available below:

As a follow up, blockchain, Web3, and particularly zero-knowledge proof enthusiasts will be excited to hear that we are launching “Fast and Curious,” a summer learning series of short videos where our CEO Colin Gounden gives an overview of specific topics in the Web3 space.

The first blog in this series will also be on blockchain and domestic and foreign policy. So, follow VIA’s website and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) to catch the latest!