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Driving: it’s something millions of people do each day without much thought. Now, innovations such as ride-sharing, autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and smart contracts are affecting how people view mobility. While various modes of transport are still fundamental to getting people and things from one place to another, current consumer attitudes are driving diverse revenue streams and ownership models. To remain effective, the automotive industry must begin to think about mobility in terms of increasing efficiency, reducing congestion, eliminating pollution and saving lives. Thus, leaders in the space are looking to accelerate the adoption of blockchain technologies for digital transformation and take full advantage of new opportunities.
Blockchain benefits for mobility
Blockchain technologies can improve data integrity and robustness, enable decentralized, peer-to-peer transactions, and establish reliable digital identities for vehicles, components and consumers. This is accomplished through a number of capabilities, including:
- Reading and writing encrypted transactions as blocks of data that are linked chronologically through hashing algorithms, which helps to prevent data manipulation or deletion.
- Using consensus mechanisms to sync distributed information sets across peer nodes in the blockchain network, which creates a decentralized, immutable record.
- Sharing data through a distributed ledger across diverse participants, which reduces points of failure.
- Granting permissioned access to known parties and their authenticated users and things, which allows people to bypass traditional intermediaries when transferring value.
While none of these individual features are unique, in combination they can drive traceability, transparency and trust across transportation mobility ecosystems.
Establishing a mobility consortium
Recognizing the potential blockchain technologies have to transform transportation mobility, industry and technology leaders have come together to establish the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI). The mission of the non-profit corporation is to foster collaboration around exploring themes relevant to mobility and transportation, including how those involved in the industry can benefit from the adoption of blockchain and other new technologies, developing open standards and creating a multi-sided mobility marketplace.
As a member of MOBI, IBM brings technical expertise and resources, including technology, platform and services, that support companies and consortia in getting early to pilot and scale. IBM also has unique experience in forming consortia in other industries that face challenges related to performance and security due to collaboration between competitors. Furthermore, a joint effort between industry members could accelerate the development of successful mobility solutions that improve the lives of consumers. IBM believes that MOBI is a great opportunity to show what can be achieved with blockchain by working together and sharing insights.
Potential blockchain use cases for mobility
MOBI members have determined a number of ways blockchain could add value for mobility providers and consumers. Blockchain can be used to:
- Verify vehicle identity and vehicle history
- Track auto components through the supply chain
- Automate machine payments
- Establish a mobility commerce platform
- Facilitate car and ride sharing
- Support usage-based insurance and taxes
The consortium intends to explore these use cases and others, starting with vehicle digital identity, which would make it possible to connect vehicles with infrastructure and consumers and enable secure commercial transactions. By storing together vehicle information such as manufacturer, specs, ownership, maintenance history and relevant telematics data, blockchain inherently gives a wide view of a vehicle’s history, reduces the potential for counterfeit parts and hampers odometer tampering. This is foundational for many subsequent use cases.
Blockchain has great potential to transform mobility, but there are many hurdles and technical challenges that must be addressed before that potential can be realized. Establishing a consortium effort such as MOBI is a step in the right direction, but it will still take time, dedication and resources to generate real value. As a key supporter of The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger and proponent of open source software, IBM welcomes the opportunity to work with MOBI and collaborate with many of the world’s leading transportation brands, as well as city authorities, regulators and other government entities around the world. Let’s create the future of mobility, together.
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