What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralized/distributed database system that acts as an “open ledger” to store and manage transactions. Each record in the database is called a block and contains details such as the transaction timestamp as well as a link to the previous block. This makes it impossible for anyone to alter information about the records retrospectively.
It’s a public ledger that records everything in a secure and transparent manner. Unlike banks that facilitate transactions with traditional currencies, the blockchain allows the free transfer of cryptocurrency through a decentralized environment. All the data is then held in an interlinked network of computers, owned and run by none other than the users themselves.
Benefits of blockchain
· Decentralized - no single person or company controls data entry or its integrity;
· This provides benefits for audit. As a provider of data, you can prove that your data hasn’t been altered, and as a recipient of data you can be sure that the data hasn’t been altered.
· Transparency - it provides a decentralized database, or “digital ledger”, of transactions that everyone on the network can see.
· Security - with no central point to be exploited the system is protected against hacking attacks and fraud. All transactions on a blockchain are cryptographically secured and provide integrity.
· Reduced transactions costs - blockchain allows peer-to-peer and business-to-business transactions to be completed without the need for a third party, which is often a bank.
· High availability- As the system is based on thousands of nodes in a peer-to-peer network, and the data is replicated and updated on each node, the system becomes highly available.
Using the example of a hospital or healthcare provider, poorly managed patient data increases the risk that a patient will be misdiagnosed, treated incorrectly, or that test results become lost or corrupted. There’s also a concern that two touchpoints on a patients’ treatment journey (e.g. a GP and specialist) might have different datasets for the same person.
Placing healthcare databases on the blockchain would create a single, unchangeable resource for practitioners to use when treating a patient.
How does Blockchain work?
To make understand how block chain work. I will take help foremost implementation blockchain i.e Bitcoin.
Here is the pictorial representation of the working of the Blockchain:
Now, breaking down the steps in the above image, let’s see how a transaction is initiated:
For initiating a transaction, sender uses two pieces of information: Public key and private key.
James sending 500$ to Kevin. James uses Kevin’s public key for the transaction. (The public key is the address in a blockchain transaction).
Now, once a transaction is initiated, it propagates peer to peer in a distributed network.
So, the transaction has now propagated in the network, now you might ask: Since there is no central authority to validate the transaction how is the authenticity and validation of transactions is maintained in the network?
There are some special nodes in the network who verifies the transactions and maintains the ledger. We call them Miners.
Miners are special Nodes which hold the copy of the ledger and verifies the transactions happening in the network.
Using state of the art cryptographic algorithm, miners validates the transactions across the network
Transaction is broadcasted in the form of a Digital message.
Just like your signature provides the proof of ownership on the document, similarly, digital signature provides the proof that the transaction is genuine. Unlike a handwritten password, digital signature is unique for every transaction.
Once the transaction is verified it is stored in a shared ledger across the network.
Big Data Challenges
First, who controls the infrastructure when there are multiple actors involved?
· If you’re a multinational enterprise, how do you share data around the planet? If you have multiple copies, how do you know which one is the most up-to-date? How do you reconcile a different system administrator role at each regional office?
· If you’re an industry consortium, how to share control of the ecosystem infrastructure among the companies in your consortium? This is especially hard if those companies are competitors!
· Why can’t there be data just “out there” as a single shared source of truth that no one on the planet owns or controls, per se? Rather, data would be a public utility like electricity or the internet itself.
Second, how well can you trust the data?
· If you generate the data yourself, how do you prove you were the originator? If you get data from others, how do you know it was truly them?
· What about crashes and malicious behavior? Machines crash, glitches happen, bits flip. Zombie IoT toasters might be inputting garbage. So after all your fancy Spark calculations, is it still just garbage out?
Finally, how do you monetize the data?
· How do you transfer the rights of the data, or buy rights from others?
· There’s a long-standing dream of a universal data marketplace; how?
Blockchain Use cases with big data.
The sharing economy
With companies like Uber and AirBnB flourishing, the sharing economy is already a proven success. Currently, however, users who want to hail a ride-sharing service have to rely on an intermediary like Uber. By enabling peer-to-peer payments, the blockchain opens the door to direct interaction between parties — a truly decentralized sharing economy results.
An early example, OpenBazaar uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer eBay. Download the app onto your computing device, and you can transact with OpenBazzar vendors without paying transaction fees. The “no rules” ethos of the protocol means that personal reputation will be even more important to business interactions than it currently is on eBay.
Supply chain Management
In Supply chain, the most critical thing is to maintain track from raw material distribution to after scales support. keeping track of Delivery location and product flow.
Today customer/consumer expectation is to have transparency and trust, he wants to know all, from where raw material purchased, when & where delivered to manufacture, what & when product are made and this all depends on trust to function properly. But so far due to absence of any transparent medium for trust and because of that there is big distrust between organizations for sharing and relying on shared data.
But now with use of block chain technologies with supply chain we can have a solution to re-gain the trust, permissioned record of ownership, transparency in location and movement of parts and goods.
Current Challenges in Supply Chain
· Disparate record-keeping and reporting systems can lead to scattered, incomplete and unreliable manifests, bills of lading, certifications and more.
· Supply chain intelligence is knowing more than where goods are at any given moment. To find the source of flawed parts or component failures, being able to trace the origin and provenance of previously shipped goods is critical.
· Even the best-planned supply chain can be thrown into chaos by natural disasters, unforeseen shortages, spikes in demand or a litany of smaller issues. With today’s elongated supply chains, any delay or faulty delivery can impact production.
· With blockchain-stored records, all relevant information can be simultaneously and securely available to sender, receiver, shipper and regulators.
· With blockchain records that reflect a product’s geographic flow and how it was treated, you can examine sources, investigate industry certifications, track restricted or dangerous components, discover storage condition anomalies and more.
· Delays involving weather, labor disputes, or error are inevitable; blockchain-optimized processes help to resolve real-world issues. Knowing that a shipment is incomplete or at risk can instantly trigger remediation actions like supplier substitutions or price adjustments—before a crisis emerges.
Using blockchain can help with a wide variety of industry challenges, from assessing risk to mitigating fraud?—?right now, the insurance industry loses $80 billion annually due to fraud and the blockchain is poised to reduce or eliminate this issue, among others.
Blockchain could help the insurance industry in the following ways:
· Improve Trust: According to Marr, there’s a “crisis of trust” in this industry. Blockchain’s transparency could repair this.
· Improve efficiency: Streamlined data entry, combined with greater control of personal data: “The goal would be to have the KYC data verified and then it could be securely forwarded to other companies to use without the need to repeat the data entry or verification process,” says Marr.
· Improve claim processing: Smart contracts ensure a faster, more streamlined process of managing claims. Once the contract requirements are met, the coverage is released and the payment is made in one seamless, automated transaction.
· Improve fraud detection: The public ledger and its ability to verify data is one of blockchain’s greatest strengths, and could also have the greatest impact on the insurance industry.
All of these benefits would likely lead to reduced costs, greater legal certainty and ultimately remove the current vulnerability of a single point of failure.
· Securing edge devices with authentication – As IT focus shifts to supposedly “smart” edge devices with data and connectivity, so, too, goes security. Many are subsequently seeking ways of using blockchain to secure IoT and industrial IoT (IioT) devices, given that the technology strengthens authentication, improves data attribution and flow, and aids record management. The Isle of Man government in the UK is testing blockchain technology to see if it can prevent IoT devices from compromise.
· Improved confidentiality and data integrity – Blockchain Data Integrity service provides fully auditable, compliant and trustworthy data to app developers working within GE’s Predix PaaS platform.
· Secure private messaging – Startups like Obsidian are using blockchain to secure private information exchanged in chats, messaging apps and through social media.
· Boosting or even replacing Public Key Infrastructure- CertCoin is one of the first implementations of blockchain-based PKI. The project removes central authorities altogether and uses the blockchain as a distributed ledger of domains and their public keys.
· A Safer Domain Name System – The Mirai botnet showed just how easy it is for criminals to compromise critical internet infrastructure. By bringing down the domain name system (DNS) service provider for most major websites, the attackers were able to cut off access to Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, and other services. A blockchain approach to storing DNS entries could, in theory, improve security by removing the single, attackable target.
· Reduced Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS) – Blockchain startup Gladius says its decentralised solutions can protect against DDoS attacks by “allowing you to connect to protection pools near you to provide better protection and accelerate content.”
Medical / Healthcare
Better data sharing among healthcare providers, pharmacies, and patients means accurate diagnoses, improved treatments, and cost-effective care. Blockchain facilitates shared access across the chain without compromising data security and integrity.
The shared blockchain ledger is public, but because the data is replicated across all the blocks in the network, it’s more secure than traditional information storage—a model that keeps all the data in a single location (centralized). Blockchain delivers access control via a shared public chain and a private chain; so for instance, only the patient would have access to their medical data using the private chain piece. If malicious parties wanted to gain access, the hackers would need to simultaneously breach every participant in the network, not just one.
· Data can only be accessed by the patient’s private key, even if the database is hacked, the data will be unreadable.
Blockchain also supports data privacy when data updates are applied and during data transfer. For example, when a doctor prescribes a new medication for a patient, his or her records are updated, and the public ledger notes when the transaction or change was made. An encrypted link to the patient’s record is created for doctor and patient access only. This approach strengthens the privacy of electronic health records (EHR) and electronic protected health information (ePHI) covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
· A patient will have full control over accessing their healthcare data. The patient will control who sees their data and what they see.
· Instantaneous transfer of medical data. Every member in the distributed network of the health care blockchain would have the same data of the patient’s record.