After several years of studying technology that can affect real estate through his work at CRT Labs/NAR, engineer David Conroy says the technology that makes cryptocurrency possible could be the solution to some of the security issues that can plague online transactions.

“We believe it (blockchain) has the potential to be one of the most impactful technologies in the United States,” Conroy said during the Global Business Council session Tuesday at the Illinois REALTORS Public Policy Meetings. The session was just one of the many sessions held at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria. (Conroy’s slides are here.)

With blockchain, data can never be overwritten or lost, Conroy said. It will lead to more informed customers, reduce costs and improve transaction speeds. Even though blockchains can involve cryptocurrency, many do not, he said.

To date, the National Association of REALTORS has created open source applications, created multiple pilot projects including one in Cook County with the Recorder of Deeds, and has published white papers on the subject of blockchain. NAR and CRTLabs are also looking at the creation of a universal property ID, similar to a Vehicle Identification Number for a car.

In addition to Conroy, the Global Business Council also heard a presentation from T.J. Augustine, Associate Vice President for the University of Illinois’ Office of Economic Development & Innovation. Augustine played two promotional videos about the University and pointed out some of the more noteworthy innovations that have come from the university system, such as Prezista, the first treatment for multi-drug resistant HIV, the Illinois Innocence Project and a drug to treat shingles.

He also explained the importance of the Discovery Partners Institute, which is set to be built in the Chicago area to keep talented tech experts in the state. The project will bring together students, faculty and corporate partners to solve problems through technology and innovation using talents across departmental lines. The goal is to make the 62-acre facility fully operational by 2022, with nearly 500,000 square feet of classroom space and about the same amount of residential living space, too.

The project is expected to attract international students and international partners, Augustine said.