Blockchain Basics 16 – Blockchain and the Future of Networks Part 1

Networks in Corporate and Government Realms

Collaborative Models

Many companies and agencies of governments are being disrupted by blockchain technology. Each is developing their own solution for networks. Therefore, the challenge in the future could be getting them on the same page. Every company and agency have both common and unique objectives, with applications, use cases, and architectural plans popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, they are neither adaptable nor integrable. All networks are taking different approaches in a competition to roll out a superior blockchain product. The good news is that when the best product wins, the industry for which it serves will benefit greatly. This stage will see the adoption of a single collaborative model to bring uniformity to industries in need of community standards.

Differences between private permissioned blockchain networks and public non-permissioned blockchain networks are fairly straightforward. A private permissioned blockchain network requires permission to read the information on the blockchain. It limits the parties who can transact or participate. On the other hand, a public permissionless blockchain has no restrictions for accessing its data to review or participate. After settling the private vs. public argument, a company or government agency must determine if a token model is appropriate.

Secure and Immutable Data

Consequently, if the past few years of junk tokens entering and leaving the market are to teach us anything, their purpose is most fitting when the token itself represents ownership or value among project participants. With the exception of a few, tokens do not add value nor facilitate communications of a blockchain network. Moreover, for entire industries, such as banking, healthcare, and governments, a distributed ledger without tokenization has more overall value. It provides a secure and immutable data service for sharing without central control by a single entity.

The financial sector is the best example of collaboration happening among many groups but not an industry as a whole. Hundreds of financial establishments around the world are conducting tests with distributed ledgers. Dozens of others are publishing their own proofs of concept. More than 100 banks are looking to R3 and the Hyperledger Project to build a blockchain-based platform, while another 100 are seeking to adopt methods through Ripple. IBM has also reported a rollout of 200 global banks intending to adopt its commercial blockchain products.

Blockchain and Healthcare

The healthcare system poses some of the biggest challenges, already utilizing several methods of records-keeping. The system evolved from analog to digital in less than a decade. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services introduced a uniform system of data storage, but with most exchanges facing other challenges, even collapsing, the system was never fully implemented. PROOF Work, a Tech Crunch Disrupt Berlin competition finalist, developed a democratized health and wellness ecosystem using the blockchain to self-govern data and improve care and a collaborative secure method of accountability. They have also developed a cool app, with dozens of big-brand chain merchants already announcing membership.

For real estate, the blockchain is changing the way some companies do business. From smart contracts and property records to transactions and titles, blockchain technology has recently been adopted and adapted for use by the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) industry, with projects like CoinFabrik, CryptoProperties, ATLANT, Propy, and Real Coins throwing their hats in the ring.

Private and Public Blockchains

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded a $1 Million grant to DigitalBazaar in an effort to create a “flexible software ecosystem” that includes digital credentials and digital wallets to address a wide variety of identity management and online access use cases. Meanwhile, Coinbase just acquired Distributed Systems to develop digital identity solutions for government.

EY announced last week it has been working with the City of Vienna on public blockchains to validate and secure the city’s Open Government Data (OGD), which includes public transport routes, train schedules, and voting results of surrounding communities.

The next step for each industry is to create a consortium and then decide which type of blockchain network to use. Public or private? Tokenized or not? Proprietary or open source? Does the use case require a distributed ledger? While each company or government agency decides, they need to consult with and rely on currently operating networks further along in their use of blockchain technologies. Making decisions in a vacuum will only lead to failure, as input from the other future participants of the network is critical.

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