The Internet of Things (IIoT), which is a combination of sensors and communication technology and is transforming companies and countries and is gaining tremendous popularity, opening a new era of economic growth and competitiveness. The intersection of people, data and intelligent machines have far-reaching impacts that help boost revenues by increasing production, exploit intelligent technologies to fuel innovation and complete work-force transformation.
IIoT provides benefits like enhanced safety & reliability, better capacity for planning, added transparency, faster service, and supply chain analytics, but like the other technologies, IIoT has its own challenges such as data security and other security threats like data-encryption, data-authentication, side-channel attacks and hardware attacks. With IoT devices proliferating, these devices often lack the authentication standards necessary to keep user data safe. Critical infrastructure will be damaged if hackers penetrate through the broad range of IoT devices.
That’s when the blockchain technology comes into the picture, providing a solution to these challenges. The blockchain is, at its core, a public ledger of data entries for ensuring integrity. Every deletion or correction of data is entered, and as the entries are confirmed by the network, a complete chain of events is created.
Blockchain technology can be used to track millions of connected devices, enabling the processing of information between devices. With its decentralized approach, it creates a strong platform for devices to run on. The cryptographic algorithms used by blockchains would make consumer data more private.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain are two areas which are triggering immense hype and excitement, not just in the technology but in the wider business world, too. There are many notable benefits of the integration of the two, some of which, will be taken up one by one.
- There is the problem of oversight. Blockchain records are transparent in nature, which means, an activity can be tracked and analyzed by anyone authorized to connect to the network. In case of an erroneous event, the blockchain record makes it simple to identify the weak link and take corrective actions.
- Data can be trusted by all parties involved in the supply chain with the use of encryption and distributed storage. Machines will record, securely, details of transactions that take place between themselves, with no human oversight.
- Blockchain significantly improves the overall security of the IoT environment. Businesses and governments, that invested in IoT also have to struggle with this increased scope for a data breach by criminals, rivals or foreign enemies. Allowing access to data from IoT devices to be managed through blockchains would mean an additional layer of security that would be secured by some of the most robust encryption standards available making it challenging for vicious actors to bypass the security layer.
Applications of blockchain technology in IIoT–
- On-Demand Manufacturing – It can enable peer-to-peer networked manufacturing applications where the peers will be able to avail manufacturing services by sending transactions to the machine.
- Smart Diagnostics & Machine Maintenance – Smart contracts between manufacturers and vendors for procurement of supplies & service of machines can help in automating the machine maintenance tasks.
- Traceability – Smart contracts between the consumers and manufacturers can keep production records, for example, which factory ad which machines within the factory was used for manufacturing a particular product.
- Supply Chain Tracking – Smart contracts can keep a formal registry of products and track their possession through different points in a supply chain. Such applications can also enable automated financial settlements on delivery confirmations.
- Consumer-To-Machine & Machine-To-Machine Transactions – A consumer can send a request for manufacturing a product by sending a transaction to a manufacturer’s smart contract along with the payment made in cryptocurrency.
- Registry of Assets & Inventory – It can keep a record of the asset identification information and the transfer of assets through the supply chain eliminating the need for manual records.
Blockchain and IoT are both already being widely adopted by industry and the public sector. Combining them could be the key to ensuring maximum benefit while minimizing the security and business risks that go hand-in-hand with technological change.