- How blockchain can enable selling trusted IOT data
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Streamr Marketplace for selling user-collected data
More and more electronic devices are connected to the internet, which is also called the Internet Of Things. These devices collect continuously a huge amount of data about events that are happening around us and to us. Owning this kind of knowledge is extremely valuable, just look at Google and Facebook. But there is a difference to just any data collected by anyone and data which can be standardized and proven to be correct. Knowing that the data is correct, there will be more willing buyers, for example. By utilizing blockchain technology, we can get an additional security layer for the IoT data.
As seen in the figure presented next, the number of devices collecting data and being able to share it is growing rapidly. It is important to note that IoT concepts started emerging just 10 years ago, so we are still in the early stages.
Even though more devices can capture even more data more even more efficiently, it does not mean that people are willing to share their data. A 2019 Forbes article[i] reported that an increasing number of Americans are growing reluctant to share their data. But these growing data concerns are closely linked to big companies collecting data without people understanding how it is used and when it is collected. Being able to control the data yourself could change the preconception about sharing data as the individual could choose what data is shared and what is not.
As there are different types of data there are different ways to collect it. Data from the “real” world can be collected through sensors such as temperatures, audio, or anything else that can be measured. On the devices we use, data can also be the different kinds of interactions we face and initiate. For example, how often we perform certain actions or what we do after seeing a stimulus like an ad, consider fitbit for health data.
In the article “Reputation System for IoT Data Monetization Using Blockchain”[ii] a system is proposed where the IoT data seller can create a set of rules concerning the data transaction using a smart contract. These rules could be for example, that the users who access the data must submit a review about the data. These reviews can then be stored in the blockchain and be reviewable for anyone. In addition to the reviews, a smart contract can record almost anything related to the transaction, such as asking the buyers what the data will be used for. This data about data, or metadata provides valuable information about the content and validity of the data and seller.[iii]
As we know, user-submitted reviews do not always represent the actual quality of the product or service. Many eBay sellers might have paid reviews on their page and a buyer has no way of knowing which review if legitimate. KILT protocol introduces the TCA, Token Curated Attester[iv]. TCA in short is a data attester, whose quality of work reflects directly on their value. If they do their work well and truthfully, the value of their own subtoken grows. If they deliver incorrect claims, the value decreases. This incentivizes TCAs to deliver as legitimate information as possible.
Both previously mentioned methods are ways to verify the data when it is about to be sold. An article by Mahdi M. Miraz[v] shares and idea that an IoT device can added as a node on the blockchain. Corresponding to this node, a block can be added to then blockchain which would a create a blockchain of verifiable trusted devices. For example, a university can register their IoT devices into a blockchain. When they want to sell their research data, interested buyers can easily verify that the data is in fact, collected by the university.
Having IoT devices as nodes in the blockchain also presents another interesting possibility according to the previously mentioned article. Traditionally, conducting transactions on the internet which involve money or something valuable, would require trust between both parties. If you do not have any connection to the other end of the transaction, they can run away with your money. As we know, blockchain brings trust to the equation. Combined with blockchain, IoT can bring automation to the process.
The article introduces an idea based on Wörner and Bomhard (2014)[vi], “a system enabling network sensors to trade and exchange data for Bitcoins in a self-governing fashion”. Now, it must be noted that a device using data directly from another device is nothing new, it has been around a long time. But essentially, IoT devices could conduct the data transactions all by themselves. If the device selling the data can be verified, so can be the buyer. This could mean that a device which processes data, could buy the data directly from a sensor (another IOT device).
What verifiable data can provide:
- Internet is a source for all kinds of information. Often, this information is based on data also found on the internet. Being able to verify the data, it would be easier to find trusted sources and decrease misconceptions and fake info.
- If I collect data and use it myself, I can be sure that it is correct. But it is not always possible or cost-effective to collect the data yourself. If we can be sure the data from an outside source is correct, we can buy it from someone else and save time and money.
Few examples of companies working in this area:
· IBM’s Food Trust[vii] combines blockchain and IoT to produces immutable data from the food’s journey from the producers to the supermarket shelves. Knowing the food’s supply chain helps to minimize food waste and to know if the producers are legitimate and sustainable.
· Civil’s[viii] aim was to produce reliable news without the need for a big company paying the writers. Unfortunately, the project is no longer updated. Though independent news writers are not exactly what this article is about, the concept is very interesting. Every writer would hold their own token, and if their quality is good and legit, the value of the tokens would grow. Fake news would lower their value as people would not want to own their tokens. This could be applied to a verifiable data provider too (TCAs mentioned on the second page).
· IOTA[ix] is a solution for IoT and verifiable data. The network, Tangle immutably records the exchange of data and value. Its take on blockchain is a step further as it features no transaction fees, it consumes less energy, and more transactions can be stored at the same time. A use case suggested for Tangle could be to monitor water usage in conflict areas.
Many thanks to Joel Hiltunen to co-author this article.
- Date of publication:
- Tue, 05/04/2021 - 00:15
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