Industry Specification Group (ISG) Permissioned Distributed Ledger (PDL) Activity Report 2021

Chair: Diego Lopez, TELEFONICA S.A.

Analyzing and providing foundations for the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers, with the ultimate purpose of creating an open ecosystem of industrial solutions to be deployed by different sectors, fostering the application of these technologies. Contributing to consolidate the trust and dependability on information technologies supported by global, open telecommunications networks.

Distributed ledger technologies record transactions and their details in multiple places at the same time, eliminating the need for a centralized data store or administration functionality as with traditional databases.

While most ledgers in ICT are already centralized, recent approaches based on distributed ledgers can provide higher openness and better resiliency.

Permissioned distributed ledgers (PDL) in particular are suited to business-oriented use cases of industry and governmental institutions. From a technical perspective, PDL reduces the cost and delays of recording a transaction; other benefits include lower cost of a consensus algorithm, offline operation, and the fairness properties among participants. In parallel, the legal benefits of PDL include the support from external legal agreements or the regulatory enforcement in critical sectors.

Our Industry Specification Group on Permissioned Distributed Ledgers (ISG PDL) is exploring the challenges presented by the operation of permissioned (managed) distributed ledgers. The group also addresses application scenarios, functional architecture and solutions for the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers, including interfaces/APIs/protocols and information/data models.

In 2021 ISG PDL released a further suite of deliverables – including a new Group Specification and four Group Reports – to support industry and government institutions’ needs for PDL solutions.

A smart contract is a computer programme stored in a distributed ledger system. If they are not well planned, designed, coded, and tested, smart contracts can leave the system vulnerable to external attacks and internal errors. Published in February 2021, Group Report GR PDL 004 defines a reference architecture and functional framework for smart contracts and their planning, coding, and testing.

The report is complemented by Group Specification GS PDL 011, published in December 2021, that discusses the challenges and architecture requirements to enable the efficient, error-free deployment of smart contracts. The GS also explores internal and external threats to the security of smart contracts, and their possible mitigation techniques.

Group Report GR PDL 008 (published September 2021) explores the PDL research and innovation landscape, presenting an overview of relevant research and standardization projects worldwide.

Group Report GR PDL 009 (published September 2021) describes use case scenarios, functional architecture, key functional components mechanisms of leveraging PDL for federated data management.

Group Report GR PDL 010 (published August 2021) discusses current challenges related to data storage and ledger operations when PDL nodes are operating in offline mode, either because the nodes are being duty cycled, or due to an operational failure or cyberattack. It presents methodologies and techniques that can be applied to smart contracts for offline operation, with the development of secure interim storage and negotiation algorithms that will ensure the integrity of data fed to the PDL.

During the year work meanwhile progressed on further deliverables, including:

  • Development of the Reference Architecture Framework – previously presented in GR PDL 003 – as a Group Specification
  • A Group Specification on the use of PDL to support distributed data management (for example distributed data collection, distributed data sharing, federated learning)
  • A Group Report describing the key elements of interoperability to exchange information between different ledgers, and to mutually use the information that has been exchanged
  • A further exploration of the PDL research landscape to facilitate information exchange on PDL related research projects under the EU Horizon 2020 programme.
  • A White Paper entitled “An Introduction of Permissioned Distributed Ledger (PDL)” was finalized, prior to its publication in January 2022.

See the list of all current ISG PDL Work Items here.

The group continues to develop a number of Proofs-of-Concept (PoCs) in order to facilitate collaboration with research projects developing or incorporating distributed ledger technologies.

A third Proof of Concept (PoC) was started on a “TIME Project - Timeless in Metaverse Environment based on Edge networks”.

Find out more on the PDL technology page.