Blockchain IoT integration, driver for IoT applications

Blockchain IoT integration is a key focus for TOBLOCKCHAIN. We developed extensive experience in this field with our project in the energy market where we connected devices like smart meters, grid feeders and electric vehicles to our blockchain framework.

W.r.t. how blockchain can be used as a foundation for trust within IoT applications, the chairman of the RethinkTrust conference in Amsterdam last summer – Alexy Khrabrov – recently published an interesting article on blockchain IoT integration, which we briefly summarize below.

Examples of the use of IoT sensor data streams

In the article a couple of areas are listed where useful IoT sensor data streams are available for immediate use:

  • Supply Identity and Location. When a container is shipped over the world, it follows a state machine with loading, sailing, arrival, customs and unloading. Dates are important for SLAs and tariffs, while maintaining the cargo integrity is crucial for fraud, loss, and terrorism prevention. The cargo itself is identified by for example RFIDs or serial numbers. It is however important to build a complete document trail, specially for undesirable events such as missing or incomplete delivery or worse incidents like safety hazards and accidents.
  • Predictive Maintenance. The article describes an example of a car which detects a component that is about to fail. It automatically schedules an appointment with the repair facility. While also the repair process itself can be supported, for example when decisions should be made between product alternatives. Like replacement by an exact copy of the current part or a slightly more expensive part with longer-serving characteristics.
  • Mobility Data, where more data and better maps in real-time are the basics for a better service to drivers. IoT is the big enabler here, with mobile GPS receivers and cellular modems connected to mapping and connectivity software on smartphones and other devices.

Challenges in generating and using the actionable IoT data

So, sensor data document the world around us. Sometimes that’s enough in itself, for example stored in a database as a legal track record for settlement, accounting, compliance or dispute resolution. However, the data are increasingly required for real-time and prompt responses, like in real-time sharing applications. While sensor data are also used in control loops to develop and finetune algorithms based on the data observed so far.

Crucial in all these scenario’s is the integrity of the sensors themselves. They are the foundation for the actionable data-driven decisions and should always be maintained. That includes for example the updating and monitoring of the controllers for the sensors, their telemetry and service procedures. Updates must be secure and authenticated, as well as all communications between sensors and control center(s). A secure bond is required between the IoT envelope and the physical system and its surroundings especially in an aggressive physical or cybersecurity environment.

Blockchain IoT integration to tackle these challenges

As explained in the article and summarized below, blockchain is a cornerstone to tackle many of those challenges:

 

  • Blockchain systems are immutable and append-only. The authenticated and provable distributed ledgers are a secure solution to connect competitors or even adversaries.
  • Blockchain is used to maintain an immutable register of IoT components emitting, processing, or actuating data.
  • Consortium logic enables multiple nodes to serve as redundant data storage agents, so that streams can be routed via multiple midpoints while data reconstruction is possible if required.
  • Blockchain enables transparency in – for example – trading consortiums. Bids and asks can be made provably available to all the members at practically the same time.
  • Sequence of events and associated financial transactions can be verifiably established and stored in an unalterable and indestructible fashion.
  • Various hardware beacons and oracles will augment enterprise and government installations of sensors, especially in densely metropolitan markets, stores and warehouses. Verification of the identity and location of mobile objects like cars or merchandise will prevent loss, fraud and accidents.
  • Predictive maintenance can become much more robust due to the consensus approach to failure and replacement, while the service itself could be facilitated by smart contracts.

Blockchain IoT integration boosts the use of sensor data

IoT systems produce enormous amounts of sensor data, that so far are often underused. The integration of blockchain technology and IoT networks is instrumental to generate actionable and verifiable records of the real-world events. The combination of IoT and blockchain makes sure that sensor data streams can be emitted from trusted agents and passed via trustless networks in an incorruptible way. Check the full article or contact TOBLOCKCHAIN to check how we would solve your blockchain IoT integration project.