I’ve been working in IoT for over a decade and am endlessly fascinated with the value created when companies can control machines virtually, optimize their yield, predict requirements for maintenance, improve safety on site, and so much more.

With the continuing growth of Smart City initiatives, now linked to massive physical infrastructure investments, it is more important than ever for us to find better ways to secure and manage transactions over IoT and IIoT networks – cost efficiently and at scale.

After years of developing, implementing and managing connected systems, we are now very clear that an approach that translates legacy automation protocols and blockchain protocols into a common secure communication layer is an innovation that will unlock the next wave of Smart City and Smart Region projects practically and affordably.

Along the way, IXOT and Windmill Enterprise focused on the hardware and software, networks and applications needed to enable humans to control remote machines for many good reasons. Putting this together is not easy – in fact it’s hard – but we did it and gained insight in the process.

It’s been a wild ride, and we’ve created a ton of value getting the flywheel turning. In fact, it’s the success of remote control which has driven new concerns about how to secure all these transactions, especially when it comes to critical infrastructure. What we’ve learned from this is that administration becomes the key challenge as assets are increasingly scattered outside the direct control of IT firewalls.

We’ve worked with experts like Philip des Autels at EdgeX Foundry, a community working together to solve for big challenges at the very edge of the IoT, which is where we must solve for compute and economics to really scale things up.

It only makes sense for our industry to work together to develop common frameworks and standards, given the nature of the digitally connected world. Open is good, but open also needs orchestration and when it comes to secure orchestration, we saw a huge need to solve for the security of transactions.

Over a year ago we began to invest in leveraging blockchain to secure the IoT, and other enterprise systems, with a disruptive vendor-neutral, blockchain agnostic and trusted technology.

Windmill Enterprise, launching a generally available platform later this year, enables the resilient and redundant storage of an encrypted permission base (or permibase) which keeps information about which devices and people have access to which data and can only be changed upon consensus.

We saw an opportunity to create a blockchain-based ledger enabling an enterprise to implement security on any of its internet connected devices on-site, without having to transport the data. Enterprise data-hosting sites are empowered to check the blockchain stored permissions each time a query is responded to dynamically.

Today, an enterprise signs up for an IoT Cloud or SaaS service that requires them to agree to the service providers service and privacy agreement. Essentially, the cloud provider imposes their security policies on the enterprise. How does this scale? How can enterprises possibly manage a plethora of privacy and service agreements across dozens of vendors? Our approach flips the tables, and instead enables the Enterprise to enforce THEIR security policies upon service providers wherever they share data or device access.

Enterprises will leverage Cognida’s Service Network Interface to connect to trusted service networks where they can administer third-party cloud services from a single interface. This changes the way IT looks at IoT.

Enabling administrators to manage privacy, access, and security of their data on remote systems through a unified platform addresses a huge, understandably challenging barrier that has slowed down roll outs of connected factories, offices, mobile assets, and other applications given the complexity multi-vendor systems create.

Our decentralized blockchain approach will allow IT teams to gain control in an increasingly distributed data landscape. To roll out truly valuable connected machine deployments, the gap between enterprises and blockchains must be bridged so blockchain integrity is not altered and organizations can retain and administer service relationships with providers on their terms.

Our contribution to the evolution of secure networking is simple. Enterprises will not have to choose one blockchain with the built-in compatibilities, given the availability of standardized security APIs for interaction with multiple blockchains. Portability has been addressed early, allowing migration between blockchains or the ability to utilize multiple blockchains.

When it comes to security, we must keep the bad guys out to allow the good guys to flourish. Blockchain applications are many, but for us, using blockchain to secure the hyperconnected world was a focused mission that we wanted to solve – working with the community in creative new ways.

That’s why we’re so pleased to be part of the Smart City Works seminar this week in Washington, DC – a forum for creativity, communications and an exchange of ideas that are essential to creating a common, better future.

– Michael Hathaway