This item is excerpted from this IEEE Institute article: theinstitute.ieee.org.
Also see: Boning Up on Blockchain Technology: theinstitute.ieee.org.
“Blockchain has become a buzzword in the past couple of years, but many people still don’t know what the technology can do. Best known as the foundation of cryptocurrency transactions, the decentralized ledger has the potential to replace existing databases, providing more transparency and security. It could be adopted by nearly every industry including energy, finance, health care, manufacturing, real estate, and transportation.
To help advance the technology, IEEE launched its Blockchain Initiative in January , and dozens of activities are underway. They include standards development and e-learning courses, as well as conferences. Groups have been formed worldwide to focus on blockchain applications based on local needs.
The initiative’s efforts are in collaboration with the IEEE Computer Society, the IEEE Reliability Society, and the IEEE Standards Association. Nearly 200 volunteers are involved.
“This is a grassroots effort that gives technical communities the ability to advance blockchain, and inform one another about aspects of the technology they haven’t thought about,” says Tim Kostyk, who is overseeing the initiative. He is the senior program director of IEEE Future Directions, the organization’s R&D arm. “The more people who are involved, the more the technology benefits.”
BEYOND THE HYPE
One of the biggest advantages of a blockchain system over current databases, Kostyk says, is that it provides provenance: proof of ownership. “Blockchain allows for traceability in which users can see who had their hands on a product or service and at what point in time,” he says.
A blockchain database records every transaction and makes that record visible to all participants. Moreover, each transaction is blocked by the transaction that comes after it, making it nearly impossible to delete or edit previous records.
The health care industry could benefit from adopting the technology for medical records to help ensure a medical professional was not negligent. Doctors would record detailed information about medications prescribed, vaccines given, exams conducted, and surgeries performed. That information would be locked in a permanent ledger, not only providing the ability for patient records to be accessed by different medical providers but also making it nearly impossible for information to be deleted or edited—protecting against false malpractice allegations. IEEE is holding workshops and developing standards to advance blockchain technology for medical records.”