The travel in the IOTA landscapeFor a while now I have been following the developments in decentralised blockchain land. But to be honest, this has never lead to actions. I do not even own any Bitcoins myself.

Recently I got involved in the development of a smart, open and distributed farm. Without going into the technical details, the idea is to create the products and services to make local urbanfarming accessible for anyone. Because of this project I would like to know more about the possibilities of blockchain technology. For two main reasons:

  • Blockchain can improve openness about supply chains and origin of crops
  • It’s something any startup should use these days The first reason is obviously the most important. Next to this, I am interested in why we should use this new ground braking technology.

What technology to use?

What technology to use? We want to store data about the farm in the blockchain. Data about crop lifecycles, sensor values and performed actions on the crops. We are looking for a technology that has zero transaction fees and could work offline (in remote areas for instance).

With the recent announcement of the Iota Data Market there is a clear winner:

IOTA makes it possible to securely store, sell, and access data streams.(https://data.iota.org)With ‘Feeless Micropayments’ and ‘Secure Data Anchoring’ this system seems perfect for what we want to achieve with the distributed urbanfarming service. Each farm in the world (with all its data streams) should be on the map and publish its data in the chain.

How to use the chosen technology?

So it is clear that we want to be able to publish in the Iota Data Market, or at least use the same technology. How do we do this? Unfortunately the technical information is quite limited at this point. They are working on the working prototype with a select number of participants. I signed up to get involved for the IOTA Data Market but unfortunately the registration is currently on hold due to a high number of requests.

The main reason for choosing IOTA is the Masked Authenticated Messaging which is currently in development:

An experimental module currently under peer review, Masked Authenticated Messaging (MAM) is a second layer data communication protocol which adds functionality to emit and access an encrypted data stream, like RSS, over the Tangle (IOTA’s distributed ledger) regardless of the size or cost of device.The introduction blogpost about IOTA MAM is very informative. It gives a nice introduction about theory. Especially the conclusion of the post fits the project of developing a decentralised smart farm perfectly:

Masked Authenticated Messaging is one of IOTA’s most potent IXI Modules and opens up a new field of use cases on top of IOTA. Being able to secure data’s integrity and control its access management is a prerequisite for things like Over-The-Air updates(OTA), Data Marketplaces, Fog Analytics, End-to-End verifiable Supply Chains, Automated Insurance and so much more.

IOTA MAM overview### Where to go next

This is the first step into finding out how to use blockchain technology for a distributed urbanfarming service. This is an ongoing project of which I don’t know the next step beforehand. The next step? Finding out how to create, store and retrieve Masked Authenticated Messages. Stay tuned for part 2!

Any ideas, questions or remarks? Please post them in the comments!

A list of open questions (to be discussed in future posts):

  • How and where is the data stored exactly?
  • How about the different permissions of MAM?
  • How to structure the data, different streams, locations and data models.
  • How about an agrICO?