How can blockchain be used for mapping? People have been talking about blockchain technology for some time now and there has been a lot of discussion about its potential to improve different sectors of business and service sectors.
You may have also heard about this technology, especially if you are into crypto investment and trading.
However, you may not be aware of the possibilities that blockchain technology can offer.
Ideally, you will be surprised to know that blockchain technology can be of great help over and above cryptocurrencies. It can help in mapping as well.
Blockchain technology happens to be one of the safest, quickest, and most ingenious and innovative ways to pass on information across people within and across the borders.
The entire process is fully automated and any information that is sent between point A and B is verified and authenticated by thousands of peers in between.
Commonly referred to as nodes, all of these distributed computers view the same ledger which makes tampering with the information and data on the blockchain literally impossible.
This article deals with the relevance and importance of blockchain and the underlying technology in today’s world.
This technology is truly considered to be disruptive for many industrial sectors and even those applications that are outside the world of finance, such as mapping.
This article will let you know how everything started, what blockchain is and how it works in mapping.
Also, when you know the challenges related to it, you will have a much more comprehensive knowledge about blockchain and its uses in mapping.
How Can Blockchain be Used for Mapping?
Though use of blockchain technology dates back to 1991, when it was referred to as digital timestamps, it came into the limelight in 2009 when Bitcoin was created by an anonymous person or group of persons, Satoshi Nakamoto.
The first time use of blockchain technology refers to two researchers Haber and Stornetta who were trying to find an alternative solution of storing files on personal computers to eliminate the dangers of hacking and tampering with them.
They thought of creating a system that will not be operated or controlled by any central authority and therefore will be ‘trustless.’
At the same time it would make it possible for all the people to view the entries made over several dispersed but interconnected networks of computers.
This will facilitate sharing ledges with the digital timestamps.
This will also make it literally impossible to tamper with a document or backdate it because any changes made on a single ledger will make all other copies invalid.
This is how blockchain started and over time with significant development in the technology it can now be used for several other applications including mapping.
This technology has literally given a new approach to mapping with its fundamentals.
In general, blockchain technology can be used for several purposes such as confirming the location of people and the time of their presence as well as spatial verification.
In addition to that, the Proof of Location or PoL protocol that uses smart contracts can also be used for this purpose.
This will help in validating the geographic data of items automatically.
With all these features and functionalities of the blockchain technology, mapping has got a new meaning and is now more secure, authentic and reliable.
It is all due to the distribution of the public ledger and the delegation of consensus algorithms.
The primary idea and objective of mapping using blockchain technology is to store the EID prefix delegations or LISP DDT data on the blockchain.
This helps in mapping and locating the IP that is related to the EID prefix delegation which is considered to be the same as a Bitcoin transaction.
When the EID-prefix is delegated to another entity it makes a transaction from the present owner to the root and is recorded in the public ledger.
Mapping with blockchain technology makes it easier to prove ownership claims as well.
All the claims of the EID space are made by the public key mainly of the root and for that a genesis block is written.
All these EID spaces can be delegated by the root to itself by using a different key pair.
And, when the EID prefixes are delegated to some other entity it is done by adding transactions and can be identified by the hash or the public key.
Even the owners can delegate the address blocks further to some other entity. Owners can further delegate address blocks to others as well.
Revocation and rekeying can also be done by delegating the EID prefixes that are currently in possession of the owner.
This is usually done by using a fresh key set. This is quite simple and much easier as compared to the traditional rekeying methods and can be done independently.
This means that any owner can perform this activity and for that the other owners will not be affected.
When it comes to authenticating a map reply, it can be done by including the public key in the delegations.
The blockchain will provide integrity and authenticity of this public key and then it can be used then for verifying the map replies.
The entire process is complex and for a better understanding you will need to have a fair bit of knowledge about blockchain technology and its working process in particular.
This brings to the next vital section of this article.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain, in simple words, refers to a chain of blocks. Each block contains some information which when put together forms a continuous chain of information.
In a bit more complex terms, blockchain is the distributed ledger containing transaction information that is open to the general public and can be viewed by all.
The type of information or data contained in these blocks will depend on the type of the blockchain itself.
For example, if it is a transactional blockchain then each block will contain information about a transaction made on the blockchain.
This will include several elements such as:
- Details of the sender
- Details of the receiver and
- Value of transactions.
However, the participants of a particular network can add a block to the chain after verifying and authenticating a transaction.
This means that every block of information is reliable and is validated before it is eventually added to the chain.
It is quite difficult to make any changes to the information recorded in the blocks because the blocks and the chain are immutable.
If, however, any changes are required to be made, it should be accepted by every participant on the network.
Therefore, everything in a blockchain happens on a consensus.
Ideally, the single initial block of a chain is called the genesis block.
Each subsequent block will have a hash as well as a previous hash but the genesis block will have only the subsequent hash and not any previous hash.
These hashes connect each of the following blocks with the previous one to form a chain of blocks, or ‘blockchain.’
The hash is actually an alphanumeric value. This hash is calculated uniquely after the block along with its content is created.
Ideally, it is more of a ‘digital fingerprint’ which means that anything that is changed inside the block will automatically change the hash and the blockchain will fail.
The entire blockchain will be invalidated because the previous hash will not match the subsequent hash.
Therefore, if changes are made in one particular block, it will need recalculating all the blocks prior to it.
This is literally impossible and may take a lot of time. This is why a blockchain is said to be most secure.
This also means that as more and more data or blocks are added to a chain, it becomes more secure.
One thing that maintains the security of the blockchain is the Proof of Work consensus.
This, however, slows down the process of adding new data to the blockchain.
A blockchain network is therefore decentralized in nature. This means that there is no central authority governing or managing it.
Everything is on the participants of the P2P network called the nodes.
If all of them verify and agree to a change and accept it, it will be added to the blockchain. Otherwise, it will be rejected.
All of these features make blockchain networks one of the most transparent and secured processes today.
Now, coming back to blockchain mapping, there are several different use cases of it. Here are a few of them.
As said earlier, one popular use case of the blockchain technology in general is for spatial verification.
This is the process in which it is confirmed whether or not people are there where they claim to be as well as the time.
It also helps in crowdsource mapping. In this process the Proof of Location protocol is used to eliminate the issues of mapping in the absence of permanent IDs.
Supply chain management:
With the use of blockchain technology the source of any object, whether it is a food item or a prescription drug, can be tracked. Even the consumers can see where their order items came from.
This increases transparency and trust which are essential factors for supply chain management. It ensures safety and security as well.
Data can be exchanged swiftly to establish a communication between mechanisms and objects by using blockchain in IoT or Internet of Things. As you may know, IoT actually refers to a combination of electronics, software and a network between devices.
The use of blockchain technology in the case of sensors will make it nearly impossible to tamper with or change historical readings. And, with the use of smart contracts, interactions between devices will be much more efficient and faster.
In the real estate industry, there can be a lot of issues regarding property rights and titles. These are quite vulnerable to fraud and there may be a lot of disputes to settle.
If only there is a distributed ledger that can be easily accessed by the general public it will resolve issues pretty quickly. This is what blockchain helps in and along with that the technology also helps in preparing accurate reports and titles with proper documentations of damages, repairs, and improvements made to a home.
There will be no tampering or backdating of data once it is entered into the blockchain thereby raising the trust of the buyers.
Good as it may be, just like any other thing mapping with blockchain is also not free of challenges.
One of the most significant challenges that it needs to overcome is the downside of the blockchain technology itself, which is its need for a high level of trust among the participants in the network.
Sometimes, the participants are rewarded by some organizations with a few tokens for their valid participation to overcome this issue. This becomes more valuable over time.
Also, there may be some mapping data that may be subjective or fluid by nature. In such cases, the data cannot be verified or rejected just like that.
There is however no concrete proof available as of now that blockchain technology can grant this fluidity during the mapping process and still account for the needs of all and sundry.
There is one particular challenge that needs to be mentioned here. It is that many of the recommended solutions for mapping with blockchain may sacrifice one too many fundamental benefits offered by blockchain.
For example, a few experts say that blockchain used for mapping may one day track everything under the sun and even replace the most commonly used GPS or Global Positioning System that uses radio navigation systems.
However, how far these maps can be trusted is the common question that all have but with no specific answer, as of now.
There are lots of uses of blockchain technology and when used in mapping, it creates a new approach altogether. If you were unaware of that, this article must have surely enlightened you about it most expansively, which was the whole idea.