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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

How Blockchain Protects Smart Cities Data Paul Golata

Blockchain Diagram

(Source: phive/Shutterstock.com)

I tie my shoes and then I am out the door. Quick turn south at the end of the driveway. Down to the cul-de-sac, negotiate a 180° turn, I am now heading back north, past my house. To the end of the street and quick turn west, turn a quick break north. Keep going, then turn east. Go some more, then turn south, turn right at the street, continue, break south and push down the road past my house. Repeat and do it again.

Daily I wake up and get dressed and go out for a 5km run. This run is essentially two loops around the block, comprising my neighborhood and elementary school. During it, I am at the 1km point, perhaps its farthest point from my house.

I know the area well because I have run by it so many times. I know when other cars stand parked in front of various homes and who are heading off to work. In one sense, you could say I am smart about the neighbor block I run in.

My Block to Smart City Blocks

With the expansion of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), ultimately, my block, along with cities elsewhere, is going to get smarter. They will do so because these IoT devices will be integrated into a network allowing them to collect, send, and process data amongst themselves in real-time. They will be an infrastructure backbone for the smart cities of the future. Smart cities will provide people access and interaction with a wide variety of services that will promote human flourishing. Here we will explore how the blockchain could help strengthen safer smart cities of the future.

Smart City Blocks to Blockchain

One of the technologies that will flourish in smart cities is likely to be blockchain. Blockchain operates as a ledger database. This ledger is an electronic collection of accounts and data records of a particular type. This ledger is created by a mathematical cryptographic hash that converts digital data into a string of characters that is prohibitively hard to crack. This encrypted data is key to the blockchain.

Distributed ledger technology is at the heart of blockchain. Distributed ledger technology means that the technology is not dependent on a centralized silo source collecting and processing big data (companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) but is instead decentralized and distributed among virtually all parties on the system (Figure 1). Distributed ledgers prevent nefarious characters from accessing, stealing, tampering, destroying, manipulating, or leaking the data. Blockchain enables the secure capture and management of smart city data without interference from malicious third parties. As an example, blockchain can track the sending of money, contracts, trading, deeds, voting ballots, handling smart energy, smart home appliances, health and data records, taxation, and other permanent events between various parties.

Blockchain Diagram

Figure 1: Blockchain’s public distributed ledger provides advanced cybersecurity to digital transactions without the need for a centralized authenticator. (Source: Mouser Electronics)

The Security and Flexibility of a Blockchain

In smart cities of the future, device identification (ID) for the blockchain-enabled transaction will assist society by enabling our IoT devices to be both secure and flexible. Specially designed semiconductors will properly ensure authentication in the blockchain. They will allow blockchains be seamlessly deployed by using unique IDs to authenticate real-world assets, prove transaction ownership, and verify signatures as transactions are logged into the blockchain.

NXP Semiconductors EdgeLock SE050 Plug & Trust Secure Element product family of devices offers enhanced Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) 6+ based security for unprecedented protection against the latest attack scenarios (Figure 2). This ready-to-use secure element for IoT devices provides a root of trust at the IC level and delivers real end-to-end security—from edge to cloud—without the need to write security code.

NXP Semiconductors EdgeLock SE050 Plug & Trust Secure Element

Figure 2: NXP Semiconductors EdgeLock SE050 Plug & Trust Secure Element provides edge to cloud security for IoT devices with EAL 6+ based security to guard against the latest attack scenarios from malicious third parties. (Source: Mouser Electronics)

Blockchain applications require high bandwidth memory devices. Micron is an industry leader in innovative memory and storage solutions. Micron graphics synchronous dynamic random-access memory (GDDR) can be used for the demands of graphics processing and offers high densities and bandwidth (Figure 3). Compared to DDR, GDDR generally handles higher temperatures, consumes lower power, has a wider channel and bus, and sends more data per clock cycle. The devices' discrete design simplifies integration, making them ideal for next-generation, high-performance graphics systems. Blockchain systems employ GDDR to assist with performing the computing applications associated with encrypting the Secure Hashtag Algorithm (SHA).

Micron GGDR

Figure 3: Micron GGDR is an appropriate type of memory to use in blockchain applications due to its high bandwidth. (Source: Mouser Electronics)


You have walked with me around the block from my house, learning about distributed ledger technology at the heart of blockchain. In the future, blockchain will permit smart city data to be securely captured and manipulated without interference from malicious third parties. Well, now you can untie your shoes and sit back and relax. You earned it! Me, I have a lot more runs scheduled in the weeks and months ahead.

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Paul Golata joined Mouser Electronics in 2011. As a Senior Technology Specialist, Paul contributes to Mouser’s success through driving strategic leadership, tactical execution, and the overall product-line and marketing directions for advanced technology related products. He provides design engineers with the latest information and trends in electrical engineering by delivering unique and valuable technical content that facilitates and enhances Mouser Electronics as the preferred distributor of choice.

Before joining Mouser Electronics, Paul served in various manufacturing, marketing, and sales related roles for Hughes Aircraft Company, Melles Griot, Piper Jaffray, Balzers Optics, JDSU, and Arrow Electronics. He holds a BSEET from the DeVry Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL); an MBA from Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA); an MDiv w/BL from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX); and a PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX).

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