Putting Blockchain on the map

By Mapbox

By: Allan Walker & Alyssa Wright

FOAM’s Spatial Index Visualizer lets you visualize location data stored on the blockchain and add in location-based contracts. FOAM relied on Mapbox GL JS and Deck.gl to build their spatial blockchain explorer on top of the Ethereum blockchain protocol. We caught up with Kristoffer Josefsson, CTO of FOAM, over email to chat about the map.

At FOAM we develop geospatial blockchain standards, protocols, and proof of location. Mapbox provides a feature-complete and robust maps API that fits our current and future needs for achieving this vision. 
— Kristoffer Josefsson, FOAM CTO

A blockchain is a digital version of a ledger where transactions are recorded over time, typically on a decentralized network. These records are sealed by encryption and cannot be altered in any way; only new records can be appended to the chain. FOAM’s technology lets you record location data on the ledger.

With FOAM’s Spatial Index Visualizer, you can give geographic context to blockchain transactions. Regardless of the blockchain industry — IoT, mobility, property rights, supply chains, or otherwise — blockchain can now answer, verify, and secure the “where” of a transaction.

The FOAM explorer allows users to view where ledger entries are made along with associated metadata. You can visualize when the contract was signed, who signed it, and what the contract was for. The map interface also allows you to add your contracts and watch the ledger update — known in database terms as “write-back”. You can customize the map style, adapting the design to a specific use-case.

Real estate markets, where location is central to transactions, can learn a lot from a blockchain map. Businesses can authenticate and record vendor/buyer contract history on a blockchain; and homebuyers can use that map to compare the data against market prices.

A blockchain map lets cities ensure building surveys comply with local laws. Property disputes could be resolved with a blockchain record of deeds and land registry.

City of London Buildings Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right (2018)

FOAM sees an opportunity for a blockchain map among logistics companies moving people and goods all over the world. Imagine a transparent supply chain where both crude oil traders and regulatory agencies verify the history of every trade at every port.

Shipping companies can more reliably authenticate the position of goods as they travel en-route, letting businesses know their shipments are where they are supposed to be. You can build this into a consumer-facing tool, where buyers could use a blockchain map to verify that goods are manufactured as advertised.
Gulf of Mexico with US Coastguard Automatic Identification System (AIS) ship tracks and live traffic telemetry

Start exploring FOAM’s Spatial Index Beta, and sign up for FOAM developer platform. To build your own customized data visualizations, learn about deck.gl, and check out our business intelligence tools.