Martín Álvarez-Espinar, Engineer in Computer Science, is the Manager at the W3C Spanish Office. He has broad experience in Web standards development. Martín has worked as eGovernment consultant at CTIC since 2007, specialized in the Open Government field. He has participated in the development of over a dozen of Open Government Data initiatives in Europe, and he is part of various working groups at W3C and in the European Commission’s Joinup, for the standardization of technologies in the Open Data an PSI re-use field.
It’s time to reflect upon IODC 2016. Numerous interesting ideas and experts keen on challenges and solutions. We clearly have a long way ahead as for the basic aspects of data opening, but everyday we find more success stories, and we’ve seen some evolutions in the commitments established in last year’s conference edition. There are some news among the technical matters, and this is where I’d like to highlight one of the big promising technological tools of the time: blockchain.
Blockchain, also known as distributed ledgers, is the paradigm upon which the bitcoin –the famous crypto-coin that’s alerted the global financial sector- is based. Blockchain is a P2P-based system that ensures a robust and safe distribution of information. All users connected to a blockchain network can access all data; they are participants in the verification of transactions and control the whole range of details in the chain of potential modifications to which these data may have been subject. Blockchain doesn’t need unique servers that centralize the publication of information, but all users scattered over the network have a copy of that information –that’s were the term distributed ledger comes from.
It’s still early to guarantee blockchain will have direct application on open data, but with its attributes we can solve some of the big recurring problems that we so often discuss on forums: data persistence, integrity and origin. A blockchain network is based on the following: preserving coherence in data and transactions, keeping a complete record of users who have modified the information and modifications themselves.
This robustness of the system brings a great computational weight, something that complicates the agility of the solution for certain types of data (currently, it seems unviable to manage great amounts of real-time information). Still, if what prevails is the exhaustive control of the quality of the datum and knowing anytime who is generating it, where it passes through and who touches it, this technology can be the solution.
Half an hour about blockchain on this year’s conference sparked great expectation and long discussions in the hallways. This will be definitely one of the matters to study in next conferences. We’ll be aware.
Featured image: Fré Sonneveld.