Assessing blockchain technology for Transport Data Logger
Abstract: A proof of concept permissioned blockchain system that holds data from the Transport Data Logger, TDL, was developed. Transport chain actors who hand off TDL-equipped goods between one another use the TDL app to upload a digital handoff containing their identities and log data from and signed by the TDL to a Hyperledger Fabric blockchain network. The current Transport Data Logger system consists of a sensor-equipped device that interacts with a companion smartphone app using Bluetooth. The device is fastened to goods and will log temperature, humidity and more during transport. Upon delivery the recipient can connect to the TDL device with the smartphone app and retrieve the log data. The TDL system lacks cryptographic data protection and attribution of data points to specific transport chain actors other than in the form of comparing timestamps. The promise of blockchain is network-distributed, decentralized and immutable data storage and transaction conduction. Many very differing implementations of the blockchain concept exist, with their common factor being the sorting of data into an append-only list of blocks chronologically and cryptographically linked to one another in linear sequence. The greatest divisor of blockchain technology is between permissioned and permissionless blockchains. A permissioned blockchain system limits participation to known and approved entities, allowing much better performance at the cost of increased centralization. Full trust between participants is still not required, which is the great advantage of blockchain technology. There is potential for a gap in historical truth, what happened, and documental truth, what is documented as having happened. A blockchain is fully capable of protecting its data, or the documental truth, from tampering but closing the gap between the documental and historical truths requires more than just using blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is still nascent, and mainstream use beyond cryptocurrencies is years off. There is a large reliance on hype and signaling with blockchain technology, which means that much research and development of standards is needed before it can be properly treated as the cryptosystem it should be interpreted as. The thesis recommendation on blockchain adoption is two-fold: start now if getting in on the ground floor and helping to develop the underlying systems and standards is important, otherwise there is everything to gain from waiting until that work has been done, as the blockchain technology sector will be very volatile until then.
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