Blockchain-hosted data access agreements for remote condition monitoring in rail

Rahma Alzahrani, Simon Herko, John Easton

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Advances in sensor technologies, remote authentication, and high bandwidth data networks mean that Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) systems are now an essential ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) resource for the efficient operation of railway infrastructure. However, the full potential of the big data generated by these systems has yet to be realized. RCM data within the industry is typically collected and used in silos, with limited possibility of exploitation across system boundaries. In 2013, the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), on behalf of the GB Rail industry, established a cross-industry research program, T1010, which aimed to build stronger cooperation between stakeholders and enable sharing of RCM data. Building on the outputs of T1010, this work explores the use of blockchains and smart contracts in the automation, in an auditable and tamper-proof way, of commercial agreements for RCM data transfers in rail. By removing the limitations of paper-based agreements, we aim to enable innovation in shared business processes and stimulate the market for RCM data in rail. Leveraging existing smart contract-based schemes for trading and sharing IoT data over blockchain networks, we identify suitable methods for the enforcement of agreements, and ensure fair cost attribution between stakeholders, without a Trusted Third Party. The outline of a blockchain-based RCM data audit framework is presented, appropriate data access agreements and accounting models are specified in detail, and three permissioned blockchain platforms (Hyperledger Fabric, Sawtooth, and Iroha) have been analysed for their suitability for implementation. Finally, the paper outlines planned future work around validation of the tools based on two industrial use cases: monitoring systems for unattended overhead line equipment and axle bearings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the British Blockchain Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2021


  • big data
  • blockchain
  • Remote Condition Monitoring
  • cost attribution
  • process automation


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