Innovative and reliable, blockchains have a unique design that is fit for validating, securing, and sharing data. They are the ideal tool for the management of transactions that are multi-party, inter-organizational, and cross-border. The past five years have been eventful for this technology, with enterprises worldwide examining the technology with a variety of proofs of concept. Blockchain is the talk of the town, so it must have achieved mainstream adoption, right? Wrong.
Even with all this attention and praise, live deployments are proving to be very slow. This is primarily because partners utilizing blockchain as a shared ledger need to come to an agreement on certain factors. The most important ones being IP rights, governance, and business models. Not only that, but government regulations have also hindered its widespread use.
It’s funny to think that it takes a pandemic to finally conquer the obstacles to blockchain adoption. The virus is gradually revealing the glaring weaknesses in our supply chains and exposing our inability to deploy resources to places in need. What’s more, it is revealing the difficulties regarding the capture and sharing of data we need to make decisions in handling it. Blockchain solutions that are still under development are now undergoing refurbishment in order to address these challenges.
There is a series of continuous efforts in fighting COVID-19. Universities, medical academia, the private sector, and even private citizens are all incorporating distributed systems into their strategies.
The projects are making great attempts to reinforce governmental stay-at-home orders that are trying to “flatten the curve.” At this point in time, there is no cure for COVID-19 and there likely won’t be for a good amount of time. For that matter, there will be no vaccine against the coronavirus for a while; a year at best.
This leaves medical practitioners, researchers, and innovators trying their hardest to find ways of reducing its impact. If they cannot completely eliminate the virus, they can at least mitigate their effects. Their secret weapon towards achieving this is blockchain boosters.
Colonel James Allen Regenor, USAF (ret) is worth mentioning when discussing this topic. Since 2013, he’s been a pretty busy man, building a platform that receives power from blockchain technology. The purpose of the platform is to buy and sell traceable 3-D printed parts, as well as printing instructions for them. In addition, it prints traditionally manufactured parts that undergo scanning and receive unique tracking identifiers.
In order for a COVID-19 tracing app to be useful, it obviously needs to go viral. That might be tricky, especially with concerns about privacy running high now more than ever. While these worries are understandable, they are the reason why a contact tracing app achieving voluntary adoption is very tricky. Governments all over the globe are starting to weigh a diverse collection of privacy-enhancing designs. A good number of them claim that an app would be voluntary to begin with. However, they are not ruling out the possibility of making it compulsory.
The nimble startups are not the only ones that are utilizing blockchain solutions to fight the virus. A wide variety of organizations are doing the same. Some of these include the World Health Organization, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and an array of other tech companies. Government agencies and international health organizations are also partnering in the construction of a blockchain-based open data hub. This hub is MiPasa.
The enterprise blockchain firm, HACERA, is responsible for the creation of this platform. Its overarching goal is to quickly and accurately detect carriers of COVID-19 carriers. Moreover, it aims to detect infection hotspots in the world. MiPasa will securely share information among individuals, hospitals, and authorities that will aid in public health analysis.
The Canadian technology company, VitalHub Corp, made an important announcement last month concerning their own incorporation of blockchain. They would be conducting the first deployment of a coronavirus screening tool that utilizes blockchain technology. The organization that will use this tool will be Sunny Side Home, a Region of Waterloo-owned long-term care facility.
Organizations need all the help they can get to improve future pandemic preparedness and execute an economic rebound after COVID-19. The World Economic Forum is here to help with that, releasing the Redesigning Trust: Blockchain Deployment Toolkit. This handy tool allows leaders to expand the benefits and decrease the risks that come from technology. Supply chain resilience depends entirely on trust, transparency, and integrity. All of these factors can improve with the trustworthy deployment of blockchain technologies that offer a “shared truth.”
Building a better future
Blockchains – as well as other technologies – have the potential to help build a better future. To use them in such a way, leaders need to protect data privacy and be straightforward about data usage. More often than now, a crisis of any kind can provoke widespread paranoia and deterioration of individual freedoms.