The Basics of Blockchain

IEEE resources include podcasts, standards projects, and communities

6 October 2017

IEEE offers a variety of resources to educate engineers about blockchain technology, which enables Bitcoin transactions. But the technology can be applied elsewhere as well. It could become the go-to means for protecting information from being altered or stolen in the financial world, in health care, and in nearly every industry.

WEB PORTAL

A good place to begin a quest for information is the Web portal for IEEE’s blockchain incubator. The project was funded this year by the IEEE Future Directions committee, the organization’s R&D arm. By gauging the interest in blockchain technology by the organization’s societies and councils, the incubator hopes to provide information for deciding if the technology should be an IEEE technical initiative next year. The portal contains articles, webinars, and information on standards.

WEBINAR AND PODCASTS

The webinar Introducing Blockchain provides an overview of the technology and how it might be used.

In addition, a series of IEEE podcasts explores the technology. In the first of a five-part series, the senior director of IEEE Global Business Strategy and Intelligence, Alpesh Shah, discusses the technology’s practical applications and the ethical concerns raised by its use. Shah talks with Bryant Gilot, chief medical officer of Blockchain Health, a company in San Francisco developing the technology for the medical field. Other podcasts cover blockchain-based contracts and their legal issues.

SPECIAL REPORTS AND STANDARDS

IEEE Spectrum’s October issue is a special report on blockchain. It covers how they work and why they are expected to change the world. Articles explain how financial firms, governments, and the power industry are adopting the technology. There’s also a handy cheat sheet to help you understand the lingo, and a chart to help you figure out if the technology can solve your problems.

An independent research report on the state of the technology’s adoption by the pharmaceutical supply chain is due this month. Sponsored by the IEEE Standards Association, the report includes interviews with representatives from pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers, benefits managers, and dispensaries about barriers they believe must be overcome before the technology can be adopted.

The P2418 Standard for the Framework of Blockchain Use in Internet of Things is being developed to provide a common framework for the technology’s implementation in IoT applications. The framework addresses scalability, security, and privacy challenges. The standard is expected to include definitions for elements like blockchain tokens, smart contracts, and credentialed networks.

COMMUNITY-BUILDING

IEEE members and others can join the IEEE Blockchain Community to receive updates on upcoming events, courses, and standards. There’s also a blockchain community on IEEE Collabratec and one on Slack, a shared workspace platform.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities  for those who share a common interest in technology.  If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and become part of this worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and working professionals.

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