Technology is growing quicker than before, and it is reaching the bloom these days while new technologies have emerged in the world, which seem to have the necessary potential to make dramatic revolutions in the world. A more interesting piece of news is that new technologies can make many significant changes in combination with each other too. Internet of Things, IoT is among the current powerful technologies. IoT and new challenging technology of Blockchain can revolute and lead to launching the projects which elevate the human lives to a higher welfare level. With the help of Blockchain in different communicative applications, unique creativities will be manifested. For example, one of the most important applications of Blockchain and its belonging technologies shows itself in various voting systems. The following parts will address the Blockchain application in technologies such as IoT and its functions in important systems such as voting through the users’ tokens.
1.1 The Role of Blockchain in Technology of Securing Different Places through IoT
Which Kinds of Problems Will Be Removed through IoT to Secure Places?
Automation is among the most important examples of technology in recent years. You have probably heard about the automation of homes and offices. Numerous gadgets have been released to the market to facilitate the protection and controlling offices and homes. But what is the exact purpose of such gadgets? What can the application of different gadgets and programs be to increase the protection and remote security of the things? The automation of the homes and offices has become possible and feasible with the help of IoT. IoT is a system where electronic devices, digital and mechanical machines, things, animals, or people make communication with each other, and it is possible to share related information with them in a common network. There is no need to human-human or human-computer interaction.
Remote control of different places will proceed easily with the help of IoT. In this case, it is even possible to set the temperature and ventilation of a place remotely. The number of devices which can exchange different data through IoT is dramatically increasing day by day. These technologies have been one of the most brilliant achievement of the human so far. Providing security of the homes and offices remotely via IoT causes different places to become personally secure and controllable for everyone. These new facilities can be used in controlling the cities, homes, stores, farms, factories and almost everywhere.
Of course, it should not be forgotten that the extent of IoT sometimes causes it to look a little complex. Since with face the problems and challenges like identifying the related information to different places, the issue of connection, providing security, managing different things, and interacting with them. Necessary architecture and infrastructures to implement IoT in different places are not very simple. With IoT in controlling and managing different places, the security will be provided wherever regarding avoiding robbery, temperature and ventilation control, managing cases such as light and physical cases (e.g., remote watering of the greenhouse), and also every kind of remote supervision and investigation. The basic and major principle of IoT is the data. In order to simply and comfortably use IoT, various data should be exchanged in the network and on the infrastructure of IoT. For example, the owner of a factory or a common house can easily open the door of his house or the gate of the factory through the network and the connection of IoT just via a password. This example can help us understand the degree of the need to security in the systems which use IoT. Those who use this technology should make sure that no center and reference is able to gain access to their sensitive data and information; that is, the IoT network should be secure perpetually. Moreover, in using IoT for different devices and tools, sensitive data are always in interaction and exchange. If the security in this infrastructure is not provided sufficiently, the so-called popular and capacious technology can easily lead to the occurrence of security catastrophes. According to an article published in the E-security Planet journal, about 48% of American companies employ IoT. Accordingly, it shows that there is a need to new approaches and tools to supervise and control IoT.
1.2 What Are the Role and Application of Blockchain in Developing IoT?
The leaders of the industry and the inventors who are busy in IoT and its application in different places are using and experimenting with Blockchain applications and distributed ledger technologies in the field of IoT to provide security and control different places. Using Blockchain can greatly help providing data security in managing different environments. Blockchain can create a new value in the industry of securing the places, change the traditional IoT ecosystem, and inject new paradigms in the networks related to the former technologies. With Blockchain, making central cloud servers to identify and define existing devices in every place becomes possible. Using Blockchain technology besides IoT, it will be possible to form large networks which have higher security. Each place is registered as a node in the Blockchain network, and the possibility of finding and tracing it is there without a central supervisor. There will not be any additional resource and reference to control network members, and this means creating security in a decentralized network. The other different devices to collect data from a place cannot be leaked or exploited by different people. The fact is that Blockchain can make automation feasible in exchanging data and greatly increase the security thanks to the features it has. With the help of this network, every person who wants IoT services to protect his house and office will be registered as a user or a node in the Blockchain. Individual data blocks form a chain, and a general ledger or a wallet or a digital network is formed after some new blocks being added. All the data and information added to the network are clear and transparent.
The information which exists in each block of Blockchain is recorded through previous blocks. Hence, any change in network blocks entails the change in all the blocks. It is clear that such a thing is not possible, and it means that with applying Blockchain to implement IoT on its infrastructure, the probability that the others gain access to each user’s data and make changes in it is zero. So, integrating IoT and Blockchain helps you to have a high-security coefficient in implementing automation programs. One of the other key features of Blockchain which increases the security of IoT is that its network is decentralized. If a change is set to be made in the network, all the nodes should agree with it. So, no central support and management overshadows the network. Using Blockchain in implementing the IoT can be followed by security increase, not need to centralized overseeing networks, and better recording of network events.
1.3 What Is the Role of Blockchain in Removing the Barriers of Using IoT?
As it was stated before, IoT is used to control the houses, offices, automobiles, and many other places and environments. But the problems such as hacking the data system and stealing the information have caused jeopardizing the security of this atmosphere to a large extent. If the data and information related to a system equipped with IoT technology is stolen in a railway station, airplane, or a ship, and for example, the data of the financial department is disclosed by the hackers, it will cause bulky charges. But in the opinion of the experts and engineers, Blockchain is among the best technologies to maintain security of different user accounts. According to the UN, Blockchain enjoys a very high capacity to start the fourth industrial revolution in the world. With all its extraordinary capacities, Blockchain causes the increase in the security coefficient of using IoT-related technologies to protect different environments and places remotely.
The more developed the IoT-related technologies get, the more different networks and devices interact and communicate with each other. Heating systems, light, different types of home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines and all different equipment and devices can be related to each other. But the story is that the relationships and connections which are traditionally used to control the things and places work based on the cloud server, and there are many security holes in them. In fact, unsecure cloud servers, unencrypted communications, weak passwords, forgetting TLS or transfer layer security, and the lack of correct user authentication cause the security of IoT not to be that high or at least some security risks might occur. The user accounts registered in this network can become more secure, and more speed can be provided to connect to the network and apply IoT in different places via Blockchain. Moreover, working with the Blockchain network will be very simple and easy for different users. Therefore, in fact, the combination of Blockchain with the IoT to protect and control different places remotely can create more speed and convenience for the people and remove security holes. Lack of central servers and networks to control IoT causes the users take measure in using new technologies with a higher security coefficient.
Traditionally, there is a distributed user/server model in IoT technology, the management of which requires a central overseer. Therefore, when we speak about cybersecurity, this centralized overseeing brings about some problems. In this case, it is highly probable for the information and data which go from different devices to a central overseer to be stolen by the hackers; however, with Blockchain and its decentralized system, it is no more necessary to worry about stealing the data and information in using IoT.
1.4 What Do We Need to Implement This Plan? What Is the Framework of Implementing this Plan and Why?
Blockchain ledger forces the users to use a unique password to gain access to a network. Every change in the Blockchain network can be traced too. If someone tries to make changes in the data of the Blockchain network or tamper with this system, all the users or namely the present nodes in the network, get informed of it and avoid it. Such a function lets IoT to continue its development more securely. Such an application causes the range of using IoT backed by Blockchain to become more extensive. For example, the entrance and exit of the university and school students can be controlled more comfortably through a Blockchain-based IoT system. Even the parents can be aware of their presence through being placed in the Blockchain network.
The variety of practices that can be achieved via combining Blockchain and IoT is very high. Even if the tools or objects that are remotely controlled by IoT are stolen, it can more easily be investigated with the existence of Blockchain such that, the data and information related to it will be sent to the police and owners. In fact, some criteria are defined as to what is natural and unnatural with respect to data in the network, that if required, the data related to various tools are isolated, which would make it easy to track and arrest thieves. Without the need for any third party or middleman, information like the data from smart tools, locations of any tool, and the object that is controlled by IoT and even pictures of the person who has perpetrated the theft will be sent to the police. As a result, the nearest police station will investigate the matter using the information that have been sent to it automatically. The combination of Blockchain with IoT can turn into one of the most valuable technologies in the long run. Using an electronic key for your house is much safer than traditional and physical ones. We should soon wait for all the aspects of our lives to become electronic. As the prevalence of driverless cars in the future is vary probable and can be foreseen, different tools and various places becoming electronic with the help of IoT with reference to valuable and practical technologies like Blockchain awaits us impatiently.
The first sparks of using Blockchain in the systems of IoT came to the minds of inventors and engineers when they realized that this network could bring the same level of transparency as it gives to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies transactions and trades, to the world of IoT. There are different solutions and frameworks that make the sources and services of IOT to release their information on the infrastructure of Blockchain in an encrypted way. For example, the data that are released by the sender about IoT have private keys or in a way, passwords that prevent the access of hackers and thieves. These data are released on the infrastructure of Blockchain. All the information related to the IoT are traded in the Blockchain network. This means that it would become possible to record and trace data in a transparent and tamper-proof way. Different algorithms and techniques are introduced to use Blockchain in the field of IoT. The IoT servers can exchange information with local bridges and the Blockchain network to create various services. For example, sensors that draw a lot of attention in implementing IoT, and receive environmental information from different objects and tools, transfer their data to Blockchain in order for them to be sent and stored. Finally, the result of interaction and connection formed between Blockchain and different technologies of IoT in the field of exchanging data will get to the end-users, and they will be able to receive data and information via their smart devices. For example, users will be able to remotely and easily control the status of their home appliances whose related data are stored on Blockchain. This technology can easily change how the current lifestyle looks and works.
2.1 Using Token-based Programs to Conduct Different Voting on the Infrastructure of Blockchain
Given the Voting Tokens, What Problems Will Be Resolved?
The market of Blockchain and its related technologies are constantly developing and growing. Decentralizing different network is an interesting solution that is about to step inside new domains. Voting with the help of features that Blockchain offers is among the function of this new technology. There are also many challenges on this path. Because Blockchain should control the anonymity of users, who participate in different elections in addition to attempting to preserve the validity of the election and protecting different votes to organize any voting process. Through voting with the use of tokens on the infrastructure of Blockchain, democracy will have more potential to take place. Given the new technologies, in order to vote, you will need to have tokens that are created in smart contracts based on Blockchain. Using tokens to vote means that tokens cannot be reused. In such smart contracts, the number of tokens are limited. Currently, voting systems are faced with some problems. Registering the votes of voters, counting votes, and protecting their validity are very difficult. These steps and measures require a long time, and their validity can always be doubted. But with the existence of Blockchain, many of these mentioned problems will be resolved. Because this network will be able to store and observe a large volume of data and information, and also the possibility of imposing changes and fraud does not exist in it. With respect to different features and technologies that exist on the infrastructure of Blockchain, the possibility of fraud and scams lean toward zero.
2.2 What Is the Role and Application of Blockchain in Developing Token-based Voting?
Blockchain is a digital ledger. This technology gets its power from nodes or users that confirm and register all the existing transactions on this infrastructure. This ledger is never stored on any infrastructure or network but is present in a chain that is supported by millions of users or nodes. Given the features of decentralization and encryption that are present in this network, Blockchain data centers take away the possibility of tampering and scamming from users. This network is not based on a certain point, and for this reason, it cannot be affected by changes that are created by one user or a group of users. In addition to exchanging financial information, this network with such features will also be effective to exchange information in different fields. A vote is also a very small part of a very important and vital data in any election. So with the existence of Blockchain, exchanging these data will become better and safer. Given all the advances that have taken place in the world of technologies, different voting processes can be easily simplified. Online voting, with the help of Blockchain, can resolve many problems. No hacker can access the final section of the vote registration in Blockchain. There is no sign of fake voters, and the identity of people will remain completely anonymous in the process of voting. The use of the infrastructure of Blockchain for voting has been tested in some areas. For example, in the voting processes that took place for the army in West Virginia, Americans who were not on American soil used their phones, the Blockchain, and the technology of encrypted data and information to vote for their candidate of choice. Numerous countries, including Brazil, Denmark, South Korea, and Switzerland, are also looking to use new Blockchain-based technologies in their voting systems.
The biggest advantage of using Blockchain and its tokens for voting is transparency. Traditionally, after putting the ballot in the box, there is no way to make sure of the investigation and counting of the votes. No one can know exactly how his vote is counted. But by voting with tokens on the infrastructure of Blockchain, each user can easily follow up on the process of voting and matters related to it. Since the Blockchain network is decentralized and the information in it is tamper-proof, each user can register his vote forever in history.
The more transparent is the network and system is, the less the possibility of scamming and tampering with the different votes will be. As a result, Blockchain can remove the hands behind the curtain from any election. With the existence of the Blockchain network, voting and registration of results will continue with more speed. Increased precision and speed are the features of voting in the infrastructure of Blockchain.
2.3 What Do We Need to Implement This Plan? What Is the Technological Framework to Implement this Plan and Why?
The main outlook of voting with the help of Blockchain tokens is similar to the traditional method. In fact, the process and concepts are still like the past. The process of using Blockchain is such that each citizen should refer to a judicial office and confirm his or her citizenship there. As a result, his identity and citizenship information will be stored on Blockchain related to his user key. In the next step, each citizen needs the voting ballot for registering his view. In Blockchain, instead of a ballot, a token is given to each person that is deposited in his account. These tokens are time-limited. After the time of voting, tokens are burnt according to a smart contract and become null and void. In order to vote with tokens, they need to be sent to a specific address. Having the address of each candidate, the voters send their tokens to that address. Sending the token to any specific address means voting for any specific candidate. The votes of people are registered in Blockchain and are approved on an infrastructure that is completely transparent and tamper-proof. Also, instead of sending the users’ tokens to a certain address, it is possible to make changes in the interface or certain voting software on the infrastructure of Blockchain.
One of the controversial matters in implementing Blockchain in the path of voting is approving the identity of voters. In fact, when this network is used, we should look for the fact that each person should only vote once. In order to prevent this, citizens should be asked to send a picture of their passport while voting. Then in order to investigate the identity of users, after receiving the picture of the passport, users receive a code via smart devices like their phones that allow them to enter the voting system. In any case, there are various methods and techniques to limit each person and control him so that he would only vote once. In fact, reaching democracy by registering different votes in an election held on the infrastructure of Blockchain will be even more doable.
Due to the features of the Blockchain network, i.e., transparency of information and data, being tamper-proof, and the speed and precision of the network, in combination with other technologies, it can have many advantages. Using the dimensions of Blockchain will make life much simpler and faster. As the most valuable feature of Blockchain, transparency can be effective and advantageous in many different fields. IoT and using Blockchain in voting are indicative of a world in which speed and precision are prominently increased. Such achievement can affect everything, such as politics, community, economics, and culture. It is not so irrelevant to say that the fourth industrial revolution is in the hands of Blockchain and its belongings.
[Cryptocanucks] “Blockchain: The Future of Smart Home Automation & Security”, Chanda Parashar, Oct 1, 2018
[Devteam] “How to Secure the Internet of Things (IoT) with Blockchain”, Aran Davies, Sep 18, 2019
[Investopedia] “How Blockchain Technology Can Prevent Voter Fraud”, Joe Liebkind, Jun 25, 2019
[Coincentral] “How Blockchain Voting Works & Why We Need It”, Bennett Garner, May 12, 2019
Dr. Pooyan Ghamari