United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has entered into a partnership with IOTA Foundation to use blockchain technology in their relevant projects. UNOPS and IOTA Foundation recently confirmed that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
UNOPS is a self-financed central operational arm of the United Nations, operating in 80 countries worldwide. They provide procurement, human resources, project management and financial management services to the UN. A lot of their work involves the Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
IoT is a technology in which machines can communicate among themselves. Physical devices such as vehicles or home appliances are embedded with electronics, software, Radio-frequency identification (RFID), and network connectivity, allowing the devices to exchange information. Each device can be uniquely identified, while the embedded computing system is able to transmit data over the existing Internet infrastructure.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) micropayment transactions will enable the devices to purchase more electricity, bandwidth, storage or data when required, and sell resources when in excess. IoT has several applications, for e.g. Smart Grids, Smart Homes, Intelligent Transportation and Smart Cities. A key requirement for using IoT successfully is that the machines should be able to communicate securely, without being hacked. Imagine the consequences of a cyber attacker hacking a smart grid!
Logically, the blockchain technology, with its reputation for being very hard to hack, should be useful in securing IoT. However, blockchain needs enhancement for use in IoT, which is expected to have 30 billion objects by 2020, requiring a scalable technology to secure it. To make M2M micropayment transactions over IoT a pervasive reality, the technology also must be able to support a very large number of micropayments.
Blockchain currently is not sufficiently scalable, and it also requires transaction fees, to prevent the miners from spamming the already-congested network. If a business model depends on numerous micropayment transactions, then no profit may be left after paying the transaction fees! Uncertainty over transaction completion and profit margin currently limit adoption of blockchain in the IoT space.
This is where IOTA Foundation with their Tangle technology and IOTA crypto token comes into the picture. Tangle uses Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) and has no block, and no mining. This makes it scalable, with far superior transaction throughput. Since the transaction-making process incorporates the consensus mechanism, the network can scale without any transaction fees. This makes Tangle and IOTA crypto token ideal for the IoT space.
The UNOPS will work with the IOTA Foundation to organize training workshop and thought leadership seminar. They will jointly develop proofs of concept (PoCs) to improve UNOPS‘s operation efficiency in the relevant areas.
The UN has implemented blockchain technology earlier too, most notably in their efforts to end child trafficking and to facilitate distribution of international aid.