Technology

The Technology and Engineering Management Society (TEMS) Helping to Lead on Blockchain Technology

The IEEE Future Directions team organized a Blockchain technology incubator workshop in Arlington, Virginia at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

This blog by me includes my role as administrative committee member of IEEE Technology and Management Society (TEMS) and how TEMS is involved in leading IEEE efforts to advance blockchain technology. Along with a number of industry, government, and academic representatives, we brainstormed a number of potential projects and ideas related to the application and development of Blockchain technology.

On the first day of the blockchain incubator workshop, several introduction presentations were given. Academic representatives organizing and presenting in the workshop included Angelos Stavrou from George Mason University and Chunming Rong from the University of Stavanger of Norway. Jeff Voas, representative from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), a longtime member of IEEE, also provided insights into actions needed from a broader perspective for successful blockchain development and adoption. Industrial presenters included Jeff Tennenbaum, a Blockchain Architect from IBM and Lawrence Orsini, Founder of LO3 Energy, provided much needed industry insights, challenges and use cases.

During the first day, an interesting historical, cultural perspective of the evolution of blockchain technology by Morgen Peck a freelance writer and regular contributor to IEEE Spectrum, was presented. Ms. Peck was one of the first journalists to broadly introduce bitcoin to the world. She recognized that it was from a financial crisis that bitcoin, and blockchain, began to evolve.

After presentations, brainstorming sessions focusing on industry use cases of blockchain technology commenced. I joined the Energy Transaction group of six. My work is to help energy companies leverage such promising technology to develop new business models and relationships in the energy space. An industry that is ripe for disruptive innovation. The group made up of individuals from start up, oil & gas industry and academic researchers. We identified seven potential use cases where Blockchain could have an impact:

  1. GREEN choices: providing consumer with green choices, knowing where your power is generated from
  2. Grid Balancing: coordinating FLEXIBILITY, FLEX as a service such as Peak Shaving
  3. Congestion Management for Transmission companies. For instance, in some region of the world, wind power was curtailed by the grid operator due to the limitation of the grid
  4. Microgrid including Distributed Generation, renewable or none-renewable but cleaner source of power such as natural gas
  5. Royalty Structure: provides as a royalty structure to allow land owner to be compensated for pipeline passing
  6. Market place for energy trading and/or carbon trading
  7. PowerMatch, Developing country application, the idea from PowerMatch

The consumer electronics and vehicular technology industry breakout group, identified recycling and asset life cycle tracking using blockchain as a high impact use case that could contribute to a green environment and sustainability.

This blockchain working group further outlined the role IEEE could play in each of the use case areas focused on forming a plan for approval by IEEE for a new technology initiative around blockchain technology. The IEEE blockchain website has additional information for other industry use cases.

The IEEE blockchain website includes a number of research reports and featured articles related to the technology, primarily from a use perspective; although some technical reports are also available.

IEEE administrative representatives from the Future Directions and Standards groups also made presentations. Tim Kostyk, who studies Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology, was the IEEE Futures program director for the workshop. He provided insights into the ethics and social behavior nature and issues associated with blockchain technology. It was clear that these issues are sometimes overlooked in technology development, and thus incorporating such a talk was sobering for the many technologists that filled this workshop.

Maria Palombini of the IEEE Standards group provided an overview of how IEEE is leading efforts related to standards for blockchain technology.  Where standards can be developed and applied included some of the discussions related to closed-loop and sustainability standards for blockchain, amongst a number of other initiatives.

The work presented was exhilarating, and working in an evolving industry, there was much enlightening discussion that I could take back. As an IEEE Adcom member we sought out ways on how to further support IEEE blockchain technology development.  I ask our membership to play close attention to the many announcement and events we will have around this technology. We will be having a workshop at the 2018 TEMSCON conference to be held in June, in Evanston Illinois, outside Chicago, at Northwestern University.

I and TEMS look forward to our continued involvement and leadership on this critical initiative for the development and adoption of blockchain technology. Hopefully, we’ll see you at various TEMS sponsored events in the near future!

About the author

Liang Xi Downey

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