How can blockchain help in the time of COVID-19

Jun 16, 2020

Thank you APPG Blockchain and the Big Innovation Centre. We’re honored to disccuss trusted data, provenance, analytics, and shared modeling in the working with multiple cloud providers in APPG’s report analyzing how can blockchain help in the time of COVID-19.

Our Recommendation to All-Party Our Recommendations to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Blockchain — Evidence Report — National Security

How can blockchain help in the time of COVID-19?

We basically started working on a data platform which should serve as a basis for COVID-19 and related trusted tools analytics and applications. Many people here talked before about the limitations of blockchain technology, and I think it is really important to understand that the virtual is not going to solve everything, but it can solve a few things. I have been working on blockchain for many years I was working on Bitcoin before Ethereum was even launched.

What we wanted to collect a lot of publicly available data at Phase one [of the COVID-19 crises] and to try to look at official data sets that are published by the WHO [World Health Organization], ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] and different countries, as well as local authorities. We just wanted to focus on three things:

  1. First, to make sure that the integrity is there, meaning that when I refer to a file, it is very clear that I refer to the latest version the WHO public record.
  2. Second, to assure there some security in terms of nobody is tampering with the data on the fly or in storage.
  3. And the third thing, we didn’t want to create another honeypot where we store everything in one location and actually take away privacy by allowing different data that don’t have Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on their own to basically triangulate. Other people can take advantage of that, and people mentioned privacy a few times here.

I think that the biggest problem that we have is privacy and especially in a crisis mode in an emergency government or in any jurisdiction, people forget this one thing.

Once these data are out about my age, about my past history, about any sensitivities whatever they are, you cannot opt-out of these databases. It just out forever. This is why I think that we need to be very careful. The main goal here is actually to provide government-institutions involved with making decisions, to start making informed decisions, and that also includes businesses regulators.

There are so many people that we need to get data from, and it is just scattered everywhere. You can somehow gather it and we saw a lot of hackathons working really hard and spend a lot of time to try to build some models and tools. Some of them have really beautiful charts but they break it after two dates because the API is not there.

Building ecosystems

We want people to submit data to us because we analyse it, and we have a team of lots of university research people and institutions that would like to help and contribute. So, we have data from one end and analysis from another, and the idea is to take this opportunity where people are actually listening and working together.

We get like top cloud providers and Big Techs all working together, and basically what we do, is to engineer the data in a way that does not change it. We prepare the data so that people can consume it in an easy way. We do not write all the analytic models, but we integrate with external analytics. Blockchain is not about AI and machine learning.

I would still like to have a single version of the truth, and that should be the source for all these heuristics and all this analysis, that analysts are going to run. We provide people with something that we call an API freeze so even if there are structural changes, we still provide some data.

It is very easy to go to World Bank [and other official providers as national statistics, WHO and ECDC] to get official data sets, and people know that if they go through our system, (i) it has not been tampered with, (ii) they can easily consume it, and (iii) it will stay like that for a while. So many people are helping everywhere around the stack, and we are looking for more data and more people that would like the data and anything in between.

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