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Disruptive technologies for smart cities - Blockchain

Disruptive technologies for smart cities - Blockchain

Author: KISMC team

The article is a continuation of the series of articles for disruptive technologies for smart cities we started publishing in April 2020. It is the result of the ongoing Erasmus+ project Smart technologies by design (Smart by Design) and is based on the outputs produced by the project partners GAIA & DEUSTO and ARIES T.

Description

Blockchain is a technology that stores transactions between two users belonging to the same network in a secure, reliable, and permanent way. It is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record virtually everything of value. Data related to exchanges are saved in cryptographic blocks which are interconnected with a hierarchical sequence, creating a chain of different data blocks, giving the name to the technology. It allows users to trace and verify all transactions made. It is impossible to manipulate or change retrospectively making these transactions safer and more secure than current systems. One of the most important and well-known uses of this technology are the crypto-currencies like Bitcoin.

There are three technologies required for the implementation of the Blockchain:

  1. Private key cryptography
  2. A distributed network with a shared ledger
  3. An incentive to service the network’s transactions, record-keeping, and security

The way to work is the next one: two individuals who are willing to make a transaction hold two keys each: a public and a private one. Combining these two keys and thanks to cryptography, allows users to generate secure digital identities referencing points. This security is the main component of Blockchain, which using both keys generates a digital signature, enabling a useful tool for the certification and controlling of the ownerships. This digital signature is combined with the distributed network where individuals act as validators of transactions who will reach a consensus about transactions. The process is certified by mathematical verification and is used to ensure the network and accept the transaction with new types of digital interactions.

The main advantages of this technology are disintermediation, empowered users, high-quality data, durability, reliability, longevity, process integration, transparency, immutability, ecosystem simplification, faster transactions, and lower transaction costs.

Current status

Platforms

Big firms have their own blockchain platforms. Here are the most well-known ones:

Existing standards

Main international standardization offices like ISO and IEEE have currently working groups for the standardization of Blockchain processes. But currently, they do not have concrete standards implemented.

Key applications

  • It is still a young technology that is currently being implemented in different sectors. Some of the most common applications are:
  • Payment processing and money transfers
  • Monitor supply chains
  • Firm loyalty reward programs
  • Digital ID
  • Data sharing
  • Copyright and intellectual properties
  • Voting systems
  • Real state, land, and auto ownership transfers
  • Food safety
  • Immutable data backup
  • Tax regulation
  • Medical recordkeeping
  • Equity trading 
  • Managing IoT networks
  • Security access to belongings
  • Tracking prescription drugs

Expected evolution over time:

Platforms

Blockchain will be implemented in several sectors and will be able to evolve the way users interact. Therefore, new platforms will be developed in order to face the challenges and opportunities that this new technology will bring.  Some of those opportunities are:

  • Most governments are expected to use or create some virtual currencies which are based on blockchain technology;
  • A cross-border, blockchain-based, self-sovereign identity standard will emerge for individuals, as well as physical and virtual assets;
  • It is expected that by 2030, most of the world trade will be conducted using blockchain technologies;
  • The existing legal system will become obsolete and will need to be updated;
  • Blockchain will join IoT technologies;
  • People will take control of their online identities.

Standards

There are several working groups working on standards for blockchain technology. Here are some of those which are under development:

  • ISO/AWI 23257: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Reference architecture;
  • ISO/AWI 22739: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Terminology;
  • ISO/NP TR 23578: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Discovery issues related to interoperability;
  • ISO/NP TR 23576: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Security of digital asset custodians;
  • ISO/NP TR 23455: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Overview of and interactions between smart contracts in blockchain and distributed ledger technology systems;
  • ISO/AWI TS 23259: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Legally binding smart contracts;
  • ISO/AWI TS 23258: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Taxonomy and Ontology;
  • ISO/NP TR 23246: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Overview of identity management using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies;
  • ISO/NP TR 23245: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Security risks and vulnerabilities;
  • ISO/NP TR 23244: Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies -- Overview of privacy and personally identifiable information (PII) protection;
  • IEEE SA - 2418.1: Standard for the Framework of Blockchain Use in the Internet of Things (IoT);
  • IEEE SA - 2418.2: Standard Data Format for Blockchain Systems.

Potential applications in the future

Blockchain is identified as one of the most disruptive technologies and is destined to change the way the internet works nowadays. As it is still quite new and firms are starting to implement it, there are still a lot of potential applications.

Below is presented a non-exhaustive list of areas of blockchain applications:

  • Smart cities by adding a security level in economy, mobility, security, culture, environment sector depending on urban administrations.
  • Ending piracy in music, books, and movies. It will help to control this, by signing each digital copy of a single file to a single purchaser.
  • Smart contracts: it will create secure and irrevocable contracts with more transparency. It will strengthen relationships enhancing innovation.
  • Identify theft control
  • Governance: will improve transparency and reliability in voting and taxes
  • Automated management: using the P2P (peer to peer) system, it does not need central authorities to manage transactions
  • Digital assets: bonds, land titles, stock, and flyer miles will be digitized thanks to the blockchain in the same way as cryptocurrencies.
  • Supply chain: blockchain will help companies to communicate easier with clients, enabling faster and more efficient processes.

Some links:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/03/28/blockchain-what-is-it-and-what-is-it-for/

https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3191077/security/what-is-blockchain-the-most-disruptive-tech-in-decades.html

https://www.coindesk.com/information/what-is-blockchain-technology/

https://www.datamation.com/data-center/top-10-blockchain-as-a-service-providers.html

http://odysseus.ieee.org/query.html

https://www.iso.org/search.html?q=blockchain

https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/04/11/20-real-world-uses-for-blockchain-technology.aspx

https://www.thestreet.com/technology/cybersecurity/five-future-uses-for-blockchain-14589274

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/18/blockchain-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work.html

https://www.investopedia.com/tech/how-does-blockchain-work/

https://blockchaintechnologycom.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/advantages-disadvantages/

https://medium.com/the-future-of-blockchain-technology-top-five/the-future-of-blockchain-technology-top-five-predictions-for-2030-67df1d7c2391.

 


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