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Industrial Internet Consortium releases paper on data ownership for blockchain, IIoT


Yesterday the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) released a whitepaper about the control of data where blockchain is part of an industrial IoT (IIoT) solution. The IIC recently merged with the Trusted IoT Alliance.

In the paper, the benefits of using blockchain are briefly addressed with one of the biggest being the ability to log IoT data with confidence that the data is not tampered with after the fact. Specific IIoT use cases include device monitoring such as logging service level (SLA) violations, edge autonomy including logging of faults without the need for an onsite inspection, and things like truck odometer fraud prevention.

Trucking was the use case explored in the paper. More specifically, whether the driver was going too fast and other service level infractions.

“Solution architects have several options for managing the functional distribution and data ownership in blockchain-based IIoT solutions,” said Daniel Burkhardt, IIC German Regional Team Lead. “They must consider the system’s performance and trustworthiness aspects as well as network reliability, bandwidth and latency, as well as solution usage attributes.”

In the example, three potential routes to data ownership are outlined. The data is controlled by private keys, which in turn live in wallets. So one approach is to have the platform manager centrally control the wallets. This makes it easier to implement and manage wallets. But the customer using the data has to trust the data wasn’t tampered with by the platform operator, so trust is weaker here.

A second approach is to have the wallets live on the device (asset-controlled) provided there’s tamperproof trusted hardware where the wallet can be stored. The advantage is the added security in the field, which links the sensor directly to the blockchain. The downsides are the cost of the trusted hardware, and the confidence needed in whether the hardware is tamperproof. Plus it’s more expensive to maintain.

The third approach is to use smart contracts to implement business logic, which can incorporate permission models and execute business logic between the parties. This approach can be combined with either of the first two.

Meanwhile, the IIC previously ran a Smart Buildings Challenge for blockchain and IoT projects. The results were announced in February.

We’ve previously explored a few other IIoT applications. For example, Xage is one of the startups that has been involved in combining IIoT with blockchain. It received backing from GE Ventures and a cybersecurity contract with the U.S. Air Force. And Vodafone has teamed up with Energy Web to link power grid assets with blockchain and IoT.

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