Space-based IoT + Blockchain: How Two Disruptive Technologies Can Democratize Connectivity and Transparency

By February 26, 2018Blogs

When game changers merge.

Independently, the IoT and blockchain are both hotly tipped areas of the high tech world, already impacting government, business and media. Now, thought leaders across the globe are fanning the flames of what turns out to be a budding technological relationship. And by adding space-based IoT satellite systems into that mix, the IoT-blockchain combination is looking like a match that was written in the stars. Or at least, in low-Earth orbit.

“One technology topic [at Davos] towers over all others: blockchain. It is bigger than artificial intelligence, social media, robotics or anything else….. Such is the potential of blockchain. No facet of human activity will be left untouched.” Don Tapscott, for the Globe and Mail.

An easy pairing.

Being both space and earth based makes an IoT-blockchain combo more secure than traditional terrestrial-based systems. Data and blockchain ledgers can be backed up off-planet, which increases Big Data security, utility, and longevity. This is especially important when servicing ultra-high-volume market applications that require low bandwidth and low service costs.

In a space-based system, devices send IoT data directly to the blockchain, through remote and connected blockchain nodes, allowing for predictive analytics and smart contracts. All IoT tags, sensors, and trackers collect the data and connect with access points, which are fundamentally similar to blockchain nodes. Blockchain nodes and standard IoT access points are small computers that house storage, computing power, electricity, and are connected. With only minor modifications increased storage and power those standard IoT access points can be designed to function as both access points and nodes.

In remote parts of the world, only five or six access points are required to provide coverage over five or six miles. It’s those nodes that are able to provide space-based backups to the blockchain, allowing for security, longevity, and jurisdictional freedom.

“The IoT space has been growing, but it’s reached a point where it’s struggling to scale, in terms of things like security and monetization, according Jessica Groopman, founding partner at the San Francisco-based industry research and advisory firm. Distributed ledger technology can serve as an enabler of IoT by forging trust not only at the product level, but also across ‘an ecosystem of untrusting constituents,’ according to the report.”  Internet of Things Institute

It just makes good sense.

The reason for their symbiotic relationship takes no great mental leap. So what makes the sum of blockchain and IoT greater than their respective wholes? In several words: strength, security, accessibility, and cost savings. While these four areas are linked, they are worth taking a look at separately:

1. Power + Utility

Enabled by M2M — the ability for machines to make transactions between one another — blockchain can help IoT reach its maximum potential by allowing IoT machines to become autonomous, not merely ‘connected’. In the case of currency, the blockchain nodes on the ground become a banker, and each transaction is a micropayment. Each node allows the owner to operate as a regional bank, processing bitcoin transactions within their region. Each banker then gets a small commission for each micropayment.

2. Data Security + Longevity

While security is already a hot-button issue, as the ubiquity of blockchain and IoT tech emerges, so too will the need for heightened security. Data and blockchain ledgers can be backed up with space-based IoT, which increases Big Data security, utility, and longevity. As well, ledgers can be delivered across both cellular networks and space-based satellite systems.

3. Accessibility

Remote, under-connected regions can be included in broader ledger transmissions and transactions. In this way, space-based IoT allows for blockchain accessibility where none could previously exist. In fact, only five or six nodes would be required to cover five to six miles in a remote location. These nodes can also be incorporated into a satellite system like Helios’ to provide non-terrestrial backups to the blockchain, far from jurisdictional limitations and outside of terrestrial networks. These blockchain nodes would connect to cellular networks and the space segment.

4. Cost Savings

Space-based blockchain can even allow us to look at an asset and better determine its value across a number of variables, ranging from societal worth to customer utility. This provides us with a more objective way of assigning value to objects and, ultimately, a way to better use resources.

“[Blockchain] delivers a unanimous and immutable way to transact and dutifully records all information in a private manner requiring specific permissions, making it a very useful tool to regulate IoT devices. As it is a shared, unchangeable ledger of transactions, it offers a sense of trust and accountability across business processes.” Networked World


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