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The need for blockchain-based applications to interact with external services and applications is increasingly evident which requires investigating challenges with respect to trustworthy interactions and efficient management of relevant data.

A picture of blockchain technology.

Full title: REPUTABLE - A Provenance-Aware Decentralised Reputation System for Blockchain-Based Ecosystems


Research background

The project is in collaboration with the University of Derby and is an outcome of continuous research conducted at both universities within blockchain-based trustworthy internet systems.

Blockchain has emerged as a disruptive paradigm which enables immutable transactions without the presence of a trusted third-party.

Consequently, it has been adopted to achieve trustworthy applications across diverse domains such as healthcare, manufacturing, and finance.

With such advancements, the need for blockchain-based applications to interact with external services and applications is increasingly evident which requires investigating challenges with respect to trustworthy interactions and efficient management of relevant data.

Research aims

The project aim is to developing a decentralized, verifiable reputation system (REPUTABLE: A Provenance-aware Decentralized Reputation System for Blockchain-based Ecosystems) which investigates the challenge of achieving trustworthy reputation modelling of external services within a blockchain ecosystem (ONTOCHAIN).

Specifically, the project will explore development of a reputation system for external (off-chain) services whilst preserving security, privacy, accountability and unlinkability of participants and their responses.

Further, the project will involve development of bespoke digital solutions (using smart contracts and oracles) to enhance core capabilities of blockchain with respect to provenance of external data feeds achieving trustworthiness of the reputation modelling system.

The project envisages engaging with selected ONTOCHAIN applications to evaluate proposed solutions within real-world scenarios.

How will the research be carried out?

The research is mainly involved investigating state of the art within decentralised trustworthy reputation systems for blockchain-based ecosystems. The outcomes of this activity were utilised to develop a comprehensive concept design for the REPUTABLE system.

With respect to reputation data provenance, we envisage setting up a private blockchain system with varying number of nodes/peers using platforms made available by the ONTOCHAIN project.

Further, we plan to assess effectiveness of our solution with respect to provenance-aware reputation modelling by engaging with the selected applications of the ONTOCHAIN project to ensure alignment with real-world scenarios.

Outcomes and impact

Although the project will be aligned with the objectives of the ONTOCHAIN initiative and taking into account specific requirements of chosen use-cases, it has wide ranging implications within manufacturing supply chains, cloud services, and e-voting to name a few.

For instance, BCU is currently engaged in cutting-edge research to achieve trustworthy supply chains for the smart vehicle manufacturing sector in the UK through the Innovate UK funded DINS (Digital Innovations for Niche Sector Industry Supply Chain Optimisation) project.

DINS project specifically tackles the challenge of quality assurance across complex manufacturing supply chains where a compromise in quality of individual parts can cause serious consequences for passengers of the vehicle. In order to address this challenge, we are investigating the use of blockchain-based solutions to develop digital certificates of conformity which can facilitate quality assurance across multiple supply chain tiers.

The REPUTABLE project can contribute towards developing bespoke solutions for such challenges due to its focus on facilitating trustworthiness of external services.

Additionally, we envisage that the project can benefit other scientific domains such as cloud hosted services, e-voting and healthcare. Through our existing research, we have investigated use of blockchain technology within these domains highlighting the need to develop digital solutions which can facilitate trustworthy service provision.

Focusing on strengthening the blockchain’s capabilities to record, store and process data provenance, the REPUTABLE project can contribute to enhance the trustworthiness of service provision in these application domains.

In this context, we acknowledge the ONTOCHAIN’s vision to engage novel applications which can benefit from cutting-edge research and development resulting from this project. These engagements will also enable us to explore and assess feasibility of using the capabilities achieved through the REPUTABLE project in wider application domains.