Edwin Diender, VP government & public utility sector at Huawei Enterprise Business Group says that most of the available information on blockchain relates to the financial services industry and the so-called digital currencies, like Bitcoin.
But what is the value of blockchain beyond the financial sector? Diender says that before answering that question, one needs to clarify what blockchain is.
“Think of buying something via the Internet and then needing to pay. In the ‘traditional’ way, you would fill out a form with your contact information and bankcard details, and then directed to a secured webpage to authenticate and authorize the payment.
“Post-transaction, you may be redirected to the online shop for further shopping options or to close the session.”
He said that the redirection to a specific secured webpage to authenticate and authorize your payment is via a third party; it is not directly between you and the online shop owner.
This third party is the control mechanism for the online payment. In legal terms this third party is the ‘ledger’.
When it comes to information security, this third party function is prone to breaches and requires many mechanisms and cryptographic protocols to secure the whole process of authentication and authorization.
Blockchain is a principle where this third party is not needed. And neither are the additional security mechanisms — themselves exposing multiple points of failure, and thus multiple security risks.
Diender noted that for financial services the utility of these benefits is very clear. “But what about other industries?”
“When constructing a smart city, we encounter a complex mesh of systems across industry domains like transportation, energy, water, education, healthcare, and so on. By centrally managing these sectors, a smart city enables the sharing of data and capabilities through and across such systems.
“As sharing increases over time, the most innovative and widely adopted applications will establish the trend lines
for intelligent infrastructure development, public service convenience, social management refinements, ecosystem health, and optimized industry structures,” Diender said.
The Huawei executive said that blockchain in healthcare is apparent for the secure exchange of value and information between medical specialists, or between patients and medical specialists, and between patients and the pharmacy.
But, its also between the MRI scanner and the application server that processes the medical images, or
between the medical specialists that use the PC or computer and the medical imaging database.
Diender said that blockchain in government is beneficial where it comes to taxation and tax payments (similar to the
example of online payment). It is also beneficial for secure exchange of value and information between government departments and citizens, for example the renewal of driver licenses or passports and online visa applications or the payment of traffic fines.
Huawei said that e-government platforms can be linked to different information systems and application servers using blockchain to secure links and exchange valuable information between systems and services.
“And what about shared services centers, or the replication of data, when a data center is offline? For disaster recovery, blockchains are able to provide a strong foundation for data redundancy between the connections in a distributed architecture,” Diender said.
Huawei said that blockchain in education can be applied to online exams for students working remotely by securing the integrity of the answers between students and their teachers or professors.
“Blockchain, Diender said, can also be applied with examples such as payment of student tuition fees, the safe and secure usage of online curriculum, accessing digital libraries, to mention but a few.”
Blockchain in transportation is quite logical for recording the payment of speeding tickets, road taxes, or toll fees. In the domain of ‘connected cars,’ blockchain will facilitate the secure exchange of safety-critical data between trusted terminals and endpoints.
The exchange of information and value between cars and back-end processing systems can be built on blockchain, Huawei said.
“We put public safety elements into three adjacent pillars; before an incident, during an incident, and after an incident. For early warnings and notifications we look to incorporate information from camera and sensors that can be converged in the command centers,” said Diender.
During an incident, audio and video streams are overlaid onto GIS maps. Integrated reports and combined information streams are
dispatched in real-time towards emergency response teams.
“We also enable collaboration and real-time information sharing across teams, departments, and agencies. After the incident, where (criminal) investigations take place and cases are solved, we search, find candidates, and stitch together videos and still images from a multitude of sources to reduce the time necessary for manual searches.
“In each of these stages, the secure and safe exchange of value and information is required. The principle of blockchain in all these scenarios demonstrates the value of not needing third party solutions or components to achieve end-to- end security,” said Diender.