The requirements for data collections, sharing and processing introduce important considerations on the security and privacy aspects of data owners and their control over their data. While the needs for gathering, sharing, and processing data continuously evolve and expand with new and more efficient methods, so do the needs for deploying intrinsically secure architectures and components when designing and developing data functions. Together with today’s needs for simultaneous data access, validation, authorization, and record keeping, distributed ledger technologies can provide the means for addressing all these actions and providing users with ways to communicate through secure and transparent channels.
Distributed Ledger Technology
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is a protocol that enables the secure functioning of a decentralized digital database. DLT allows for storage of all information in a secure and accurate manner using cryptographic functions. DLT can be accessed using “keys” and their corresponding cryptographic signatures. Once the information is stored, it becomes an immutable database and is governed by the rules of the network.
Once data are inserted and stored into the DLT, their state is bound, and any changes done to them are committed into its immutable storage in a secure and transparent manner. In essence, DLT provides the bedrock for implementing and deploying procedures that can fire automatically once certain conditions are met. These procedures are encapsulated in blocks of code that instruct the DLT to change the state of data that are stored inside it. These changes in turn are added into the DLT through transactions, which the network needs to approve and validate. The automated procedures are called Smart Contracts and they have great potential in revolutionizing the way governments, institutions, and corporations’ work. It can help governments with tax collection, the issuance of passports, recording land registries and licenses, and the outlay of Social Security benefits as well as voting procedures. The technology is creating unique opportunities in industries such as finance, music and entertainment, diamond and other precious assets, art, supply chains of various commodities, and more.
Enabling DLT with Smart Contracts
Integrating Smart Contracts into the PHYSICS architecture can further expand its functionalities with dynamic data transactions and authorizations, while also leveraging the decentralized nature of Blockchain technology. The benefits of involving Smart Contracts into the PHYSICS architecture include:
- Security: Blockchain data can be signed, enabling non-repudiation, integrity on the requests send by users using wallets.
- Transparency: Blockchain uses a distributed ledger, transactions and data are recorded identically in multiple locations.
- Instant Traceability: Blockchain creates an audit trail that documents the provenance of an asset at every step on its journey.
- Automation: Smart Contracts enable this feature as once pre-specified conditions are met, the next step of a transaction or process can be automatically triggered.
Smart Agriculture Authorization Policies Use Case
The following diagram showcases the integration of Smart Contracts into the PHYSICS platform from the perspective of a Smart Agriculture use case. A Smart Contract for authorizing the data requests done by users is deployed where access to the field data can be regulated in a dynamic, secure and granular way by the owner of the data fields.