Technology is ever-changing and innovative ideas are continuously challenging the position of traditional industry norms. Spatially inclined tech is under more use and the future is even brighter, especially if blockchain lives to the expectations. When Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper on Bitcoin in 2008, Bitcoin was developed and it sparked a lot of interest in blockchain technology.
What is blockchain technology?
A blockchain is a fixed public registry of transactions, that are hosted on an distributed network of computers where the information is reconciled continuously. The most popular implementation is Bitcoin.
Blockchain and Land Administration
The unprecedented growth of blockchain is now beyond cryptocurrencies and people appreciate the public ledger, peer to peer networks and no-trust-required transactions like never before. Integration of such a technology is slowly gaining momentum in GIS with governments of Georgia, Sweden and Ghana already prototyping land administration use cases. At the time of this writing, Bitcoin upgrades allow transactions to store more information and an Ethereum based land administration prototype has already been presented to the U.A.E. government.
Blockchain and Geodata
Open data initiatives across the globe have resulted in successful Spatial Data infrastructures. However, the repositories for the data are developed and maintained by central organizations. This means there is a chance of bias as well as ‘control’ in data management. Blockchain provides ability to create a decentralized system that stores geodata with no central control and yet everyone has access to the data and it’s history. Trust me, this is not a far-fetched idea. Of course, there will be concerns like who is responsible for maintaining the infrastructures as well as the cost of data. Nevertheless, Open source movements in the GIS industry have proven it is possible to support projects in a long-term period. Just imagine a world free from unnecessary data collection and processing or unlimited access to spatial data. Other technologies like IPFS can also come in handy.
There are ready software products in the market that allow publishing of spatial data to the public, spatial data exchange within an organization and transfer of private spatial data between different organizations using blockchain technology. A good example is AtlasChain.
Blockchain and Future transport
Autonomous cars and drones are changing the transport industry. Car and Taxi companies (Uber, Tesla and Google are good examples) are exploring ways in which service can be delivered without a middleman. The same goes for drones which will be used to deliver goods and collect data. Other than money, another common thing between all these modes of transport is GIS. Routing and geocode functionalities are a must have for the applications. Such implementations would be best inclined to decentralized systems that allow transactions without trust and movement of goods and services at the same time.
Blockchain technology is on the rise and GIS applications will soon disrupt the industry one way or the other. We can wait and see what voodoo blockchain will influence in the geo-world or get started on ways we can change the world using it!