Australia’s national standards authority has unveiled its roadmap as the spearhead in developing international blockchain standards after being tasked to do so by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), widely seen as the primary global standards authority.
Standards Australia made its case in calling for global ISO blockchain standards in April 2016.
The initiative could prove key in the advent toward blockchain adoption around the world. Blockchains that compatible with standards would mean interoperability across a number of industries, Standards Australia claimed. As one of 160 national standards organizations recognized as members by Geneva-based ISO, the Australian authority was appointed by the ISO to lead an international technical committee to build a uniform approach to the technology in September last year.
The roadmap [PDF], will seek to focus on a number of technical, governance and practical cases of blockchain technology before developing the necessary blockchain standards.
More specifically the roadmap will look to:
- Identify the different technical issues associated with developing, governing and utilizing blockchain tech.
- Identify blockchain and DLT (distributed ledger technology) use-cases specific to Australia
- Prioritize the order of standards development activities to be undertaken in the development of blockchain standards
- Consider the role of standards in supporting future regulation of blockchain technology and the industry and, perhaps most notably
- Consider the avenues to that will lead to the development of International standards for blockchain.
ISO/TC 307 – Blockchain and DLT
The development of blockchain standards will be overseen by technical committee 307, or ISO/TC 307.
The technical committee, led by Australia, sees 16 participating members including the likes of France, Malaysia, Germany, the United States, China, Korea and Japan, among others. Altogether, there are 33 member nations, including observing members who will convene at the first international blockchain standards meeting hosted by Australia in April 2017 in Sydney.
The roadmap was released after consulting with industry, consumer, academic and government stakeholders over surveys through 2016 and 2017 as feedback revealed a number of takeaways. Blockchain adoption is contingent on its performance compared to existing systems, for Australians and global stakeholders participating in the survey.
Over 100 responses were gathered from participants from consumer organizations, industries, academia and research as well as the Australian government. NGOs also participated.
The roadmap revealed a breakdown of the respondents by profession and sector:
Over 88% of those respondents supported standards for blockchain technology.
The Priority List
Survey respondents also pointed to the importance of universal definitions of blockchain and its related technologies, with inconsistencies in their meanings around the world a particular concern.
Accordingly, survey respondents pinned ‘Terminology’ at the top of the order of priorities toward developing blockchain standards.
Going from high to low, the list reads: terminology, privacy, governance, interoperability, security and risk.
Further, respondents also pointed to a number of Australian and International standards that could help support the rollout of blockchain technology.
‘Financial services’ is unsurprisingly the sector where respondents see the innovation of blockchain to make its biggest impact. Government services also holds the greatest potential for blockchain technology, participants revealed, underlining the impact that the technology could have on society.
More specifically, the respondents pick the following government services where blockchain could have a telling impact in the public sector:
Internally, the technical committee is considering establishing working groups under its roof to focus on terminology; governance and risk; privacy, security and identity; ‘smart contracts’; financial transactions and; supply chain management.
Altogether, Standards Australia says it will work with Australian and international stakeholders over “the coming years” to determine a path and process toward international blockchain standards.
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