Blockchain in Geospatial Applications

Jan 14, 2018



I think there’s a need for disruption in the geospatial industry as centralized structures are widespread – practically all the data you see on a map represent centralized data acquisition or distribution.

By now, I have had the pleasure of talking about this topic on 3 different conferences: First at “Geomatikkdagene” – the annual Norwegian geospatial conference in March 2016, later at “Oslo Blockchain Day” in April 2016 and again last week at the FOSS4G conference in Bonn, August 2016.

I was very fortunate to get the chance to give a short talk Aug 24 during the opening session of the international FOSS4G conference in Bonn, Germany. I am very grateful to OSGEO / FOSS4G and the conference committee for giving me this opportunity to reach a large audience! I have long wanted to go to a FOSS4G event and it was awesome – indeed, it almost feels like a big family!

On 2016 April 19, I attended another great event named “Oslo Blockchain Day” – it was awesome to listen to and connect with a bunch of other people who are enthusiastic about this technology and its potential. I gave a 5 minute talk about the potential of blockchain in geospatial applications.

The Talks

Below are video recordings of two of the talks:

FOSS4G conference in Bonn, August 24th 2016

 

 

“Oslo Blockchain Day”, April 19th 2016

NB: The audience for the Oslo talk consisted of people that were already familiar with the basics of blockchain technology, hence I didn’t focus on explaining what that is – but rather on introducing geospatial concepts and possible use cases and requirements with regards to a blockchain architecture.

 

The Slides

Check out the slides below or follow the link to the full page. After the last slide titled “the end”, there’s a bunch of extra slides that I didn’t have time to present – they’re meant for inspiration or for reuse at some other point in time.

Slides from FOSS4G, Bonn


Direct link to FOSS4G slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1FNIt0YBppfBcyVYKZwO7dv8AfrQ6b_v6T7DGAt7YW70/edit?usp=sharing

Slides from “Oslo Blockchain Day”


Direct link to Oslo slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1o863jW9AaKwNO6OG2tVyc2vWaAZUVrVz9ap7zhSQu2k/edit?usp=sharing

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a “decentralized, peer-to-peer, immutable, public, shared ledger / registry”. Unlike other databases or registries, it doesn’t live on a single computer and it is not controlled by any person or any group of people. It lives on an open network of computers (also called nodes) where all nodes are equal – no super node manages the other nodes. Anyone can download the software and become a fully qualified node in the network and all nodes carry a full copy of the blockchain registry. Data can only be entered or transferred using encrypted signatures using private encryption keys that only the owner of each particular data entry posses.

At regular intervals (typically 1-10 minutes), a new block of entries is added to the chain and each block refers to the previous one with a unique so-called “hash” fingerprint of the block content, which means that older blocks cannot be changed as they would no-longer fit the hash of the following block. The nodes in the network are rewarded with digital tokens or crypto-currency (such as “ether” or “bitcoin”) which covers the cost of running the network and creates the incentive to keep the network running.

blockchain explained