VizLore: Federated IoT blockchain fabric

The overall objective of the extension project

VizLore Labs Foundation (VLF) participated in the AGILE IoT second open call extension with the project titled “Federated IoT blockchain fabric”. The main objective of this extension project was to work on integrating VizLore IoT platform with the AGILE IoT platform through joint blockchain fabric based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework. The result is the first federated IoT blockchain established between two IoT platforms covering various IoT verticals. This integration enhances the AGILE IoT platform with robust blockchain enabled security and privacy policy enforcement framework while simultaneously broadening and enhancing the potential of the VizLore federated IoT blockchain solution.

Motivation behind the extension project

What the research community and industry are agreeing on is that IoT systems currently lack blockchain building frameworks which consider specific requirements of a typical IoT system including: a large number of microtransactions, unfeasible proof of work validation, real-time  validation, avoiding large transaction fees, IoT specific smart contracts, high node churn in case of hosting ledger on end-user personal devices. To address these challenges, VizLore built the IoT blockchain framework (based on Hyperledger Fabric) which enables federation of blockchains across multiple IoT systems and platforms. In order to properly validate the federation potential, we required collaboration with an IoT platform provider who offers open software stack that is capable of hosting our software agents and focusing on the edge and fog components of IoT systems. The AGILE IoT fulfilled both requirements. IoT gateway software architecture is very similar to that of our IoT controllers and cloud platform. AGILE IoT focuses on building new IoT systems with specific configuration and deployment of IoT gateways. This proved to be an ideal blockchain federation enabler since each new gateway instance (on both AGILE and VizLore Labs end) introduces a new node into the federated blockchain architecture and enhances its distribution span and robustness. The AGILE IoT project pilots require innovative privacy management approaches which do not limit the business potential based on data sharing. The VizLore extension project also focused on producing a set of smart contract templates, specifically tailored for IoT business cases that  are automatically stored on the federated blockchain. Therefore, the integration potential was very high and this remained true during the execution of the extension project.

Experience during the implementation of the extension project

During execution of the extension project and porting of the VizLore federated blockchain enablers onto the AGILE SW stack, we have worked most of the AGILE SW components and services (GW SE stack, ramp-up configurator, Node-RED, recommender system). The documentation and examples are excellent and allowed fast validation and prototyping. Together with the AGILE team, we have identified the need for supporting 64-bit OS architectures on AGILE GWs in order to enable full integration of the Hyperledger Fabric components. Integration with the ramp-up configurator and Node-RED environment helped us to validate the role of our Hyperledger Fabric components in fast IoT system prototyping framework. We have identified and addressed all the requirements that  our solution needs to fulfill in order to be an integral part of the AGILE fast IoT prototyping framework, thus bringing the blockchain technology closer to the IoT system integrators.

Achieved results and impact

We promote our solution as blockchain as a service (BaaS). Consequently, , “collective IoT” security and privacy management as a service is offered to IoT platform operators and system integrators. The VizLore IoT blockchain fabric can be deployed on IoT platforms (as part of VizLore IoT edge devices or hosted on 3rd party edge devices and servers) regardless whether  or not their services actively use the blockchain applications. The VizLore federated Hyperledger fabric for IoT systems is actively being exploited as an integral part of the VizLore’s business strategy and IoT service offerings. Our Smart Access Control IoT service is enhanced with the Hyperledger Fabric and smart contracts so that each virtual key is a smart contract stored on the federated blockchain fabric. This significantly enhances security and robustness, while providing solid ground for establishing innovative business models for entrance vouchers and remote access control.

Our Hyperledger agents, blockchain network generator, Node-RED component, and smart contract templates are available as part of the AGILE IoT software stack.

VizLore

Trusted Data Sharing with Linked Data in the Internet of Things (IoT)

This post intends to give the reader a perspective on how Jolocom brings trusted data sharing to the AGILE IoT Gateway (AGILE is a H2020 project). It should provide essential value to the user, not only but also in context of the internet of things, and not least to benefits from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The original idea of the World Wide Web

To start with, the vision of Jolocom aligns with the original idea of the World Wide Web, which was distributed: everyone would have their own node (e.g. home page), everyone would share their content (e.g. blog posts), and everyone would own their own data. The web consisted of nodes connected through links with no center. Jolocom wants to help reclaiming this vision that everyone owns their own node (digital identity) and that every node can communicate with any other node, with no intermediation (e.g. centralized platform).

The dominating power of a few

Today a handful of companies dominate vast parts of the web’s activities – Facebook for social networking, Google for searching, Paypal for payments or eBay for auctions, Samsung/IBM for IoT – and they actually own the data their users have provided and generated. Ergo these companies have unprecedented insight and power over us. They can influence and nudge us without our knowledge, which gives them not only a huge competitive advantage, but also interferes with fundamental values of society and the right for privacy.

Social Linked Data (Solid) and Blockchain (Ethereum)

Jolocom uses a decentralized software architecture that is very promising. It was initiated by Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web and gave it to us as a gift, free and open source. His new project is called Solid (“social linked data”) and it allows you to own your own data, while also using it with only the applications you want to use. With Solid, you simply store your data in your own Personal Data Store (PDS; in Jolocom’s case: a Solid Server), which is hosted wherever you wish. At the core of Solid is the WebID, which Jolocom integrates with the Ethereum blockchain, to build a self-sovereign digital identity that allows you to represent yourself and to enrich your data with semantic meaning. Besides that and storing data, it also lets other applications ask for your data. Solid authenticates the DApps (Decentralized Applications) through Access Control Lists (ACLs) and if you’ve given access permission to the requester of the data, the Solid server delivers it.

Here’s a concrete example.You might store data from your IoT devices or sensors in your own PDS: the sort of data about yourself that would normally be uploaded directly from your IoT device to a third party. That way if someone built a new DApp, to offer specialized services to people, you could join it by using your WebID. To share information with others (individuals or organisations), you simply give them permission to access the appropriate information in your PDS. The data in your PDS would remain your own, in every sense of the word: fully under your control, stored where you choose, and usable only by an Organization’s WebID that you’ve given permission to.

The fantastic thing about Solid is that it does all this without having to centralize information in hands that we can’t- and too often also should not – fully trust.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Users are becoming increasingly aware of the need and importance for strong data rights. Governments are slowly adapting to this, with the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation as the first move towards a market in which businesses will have to adapt with new business models and technical infrastructure. With the decentralized web as an answer to these needs, users will be able to use services they want to interact with, data will be stored in their own private location, and they will be able to switch between them. This will allow and encourage for a market with a significantly lowered barrier to innovate, one in which collaboration between players is much favourable over competition. Without the main competitive advantage of data, network effects and vendor lock-in will become virtually obsolete. We help businesses create and participate in collaborative decentralized ecosystems where the value generated by its services benefits the ecosystem as a whole.

GDPR compliance is now mandated by May 2018. This means businesses are now required to show exactly how the data they collect is used and enables them to freely take this data with them to different services.

Conclusion

Social Linked Data with its decentralized architecture has the properties to profoundly enrich trust, data portability, and privacy. At the same time it will step up usability to a whole new level for both the user and service providers, while simultaneously becoming compliant to GDPR.

Author: Joachim Lohkamp, Jolocom