The Convergence of Blockchain and Internet of Things

Dr. John Cohn, an IBM Fellow at the IBM Watson, Internet of Things Division, participates in Risk Roundup to discuss “The Convergence of Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT)”.


Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, the rapid and unplanned growth of Internet of Things (IoT) brings complex challenges for which perhaps no individual or entities across nations: its government, industries, organization and academia (NGIOA) are prepared for.

When physical objects in geospace and space become embedded with sensors and gain the ability to communicate through cyberspace, the new information and communication networks fundamentally changes the way each NGIOA operates and does things in cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS).

While the Internet of Things has great promise, the technical / non-technical/ and security challenges must be tackled before the Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE) systems are widely embraced.

So, how to move forward? What will bring security, scalability, stability and integrity to the IoT/IoE ecosystem?

There is a growing consensus that it is blockchain.

The convergence of blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the transformational trends that will likely shape the future of NGIOA. The fundamental opportunities are there for entities across NGIOA to re-design and re-define systems at all levels and improve quality, productivity, reliability, transparency and trust while reducing costs and risks.

However, the transformational potential of the convergence of blockchain and Internet of Things will not be possible to achieve in silo by any entity across NGIOA. Collaborations are a fundamental necessity.

It is therefore important that we evaluate:

  • What is possible with the current IoT technology infrastructure we have in place across nations in cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS)?
  • What challenges are there due to varying IoT technology standards, guidelines and compatibility issues?
  • Would the current IoT infrastructure be able to have compatibility issues for the complex process automation? How will the industry approach process standards?
  • Other than blockchain, what new technologies would be necessary for IoT convergence?
  • What is the state of IoE infrastructure across nations where real-time data analytics is a real possibility?
  • Can the centralized model of IoT work? Is there a single platform that can connect all IoT devices and guarantee that cloud services offered by different manufacturers will be interoperable and compatible?
  • Is there a case for de-centralizing IoT networks?
  • Can security be managed in the centralized or decentralized IoT model?
  • What is essential for decentralized IoT model, from technology and process perspective?
  • Are we moving towards making all IoT things addressable by the existing naming protocols? How would that be integrated on the blockchain platform?
  • When it comes to the potential for IoT security, how will blockchain be effective?
  • Will blockchain be able to provide a security model to the IoT?
  • Will we be able to create a secure and scalable network for IoT?
  • While blockchain is seen as a way to secure the Internet of Things, is the blockchain sufficient for IoT security?
  • What parameters and variables of converging technology will be necessary for IoT?
  • While the imminent process automation would be welcoming, would it not create complex challenges as far as data protection, privacy and the territorial CGS boundaries go?
  • How will blockchain ensure IoT security?
  • How will NGIOA create the optimum collaborative platform?
  • How would security be implemented for all the building blocks of IoT?
  • How will we be able to manage the blockchain-IoT convergence risks?

It seems that the technological convergence is here. Blockchain and Internet of Things are converging. Blockchain presents many promises for the future of IoT. As nations move towards creating an ecosystem of Internet of Things to Internet of Everything, there are more questions than answers.

It is time to take a closer look at the “blockchain and IoT convergence”!

For more please watch the Risk Roundup Webcast or hear Risk Roundup Podcast

About the Guest

Dr. John Cohn is an IBM Fellow in the IBM Watson Internet of Things Division. He received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at MIT. He earned a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University. John has authored numerous technical papers and has contributed to several books on design automation. He has approximately 70 patents in the field of design automation, methodology, circuits and smarter systems. John is active in research and education issues.

About the Host of Risk Roundup
Jayshree Pandya (née Bhatt) is a visionary leader, who is working passionately with imagination, insight and boldness to achieve “Global Peace through Risk Management”. It is her strong belief that collaboration between and across nations: its government, industries, organizations and academia (NGIOA) will be mutually beneficial to all—for not only in the identification and understanding of critical risks facing one nation, but also for managing the interconnected and interdependent risks facing all nations. She calls on nations to build a shared sense of identity and purpose, for how the NGIOA framework is structured will determine the survival and success of nations in the digital global age. She sees the big picture, thinks strategically and works with the power of intentionality and alignment for a higher purpose—for her eyes are not just on the near at hand but on the future of humanity!
At Risk Group, Jayshree is defining the language of risks and currently developing thought leadership, researching needed practices, tools, framework and systems to manage the “strategic and shared risks” facing nations in a “Global Age”. She believes that cyberspace cannot be secured if NGIOA works in silo within and across its geographical boundaries. As cyber-security requires an integrated NGIOA approach with a common language, she has recently launched “cyber-security risk research center” that will merge the boundaries of “geo-security, cyber-security and space-security”.
Previously, she launched and managed “Risk Management Matters”, an online risk journal and one of the first risk publications, publishing “Industry Risk Reports of Biotechnology, Energy, Healthcare, Nanotechnology, and Natural Disasters” over the course of five years. Jayshree’s inaugural book, “The Global Age: NGIOA @ Risk”, was published by Springer in 2012.

About Risk Roundup

“Risk Roundup” is an “integrated cybersecurity and strategic security risk dialogue” for nations: its government,  industries, organizations and academia (NGIOA) in cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS).Risk Roundup is released in both audio (Podcast) and video (Webcast) format and is available for subscription at (Risk Group WebsiteiTunesGoogle PlayStitcher RadioAndroid, and Risk Group Professional Social Media).

About Risk Group
Risk Group believes that risk management, security and peace walk together hand in hand. Though security is related to management of threats and peace to the management of conflict, risk management is related to management of security vulnerabilities as well as management of conflict, and it is not possible to conceive any one of the three without the existence of the other two. All three concepts feed into each other. Risk Group believes that the security we build for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for everyone across nations. Tradition becomes our security-so if we build a culture of managing risks effectively it will lead us to security and security will lead us to peace!

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