How the Pandemic Is Pushing Blockchain Forward

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Harvard Business Review | Remko van Hoek and Mary Lacity | Apr 27, 2020

innovative illustration - How the Pandemic Is Pushing Blockchain ForwardBecause blockchain technologies are uniquely suited to verifying, securing and sharing data, they’re ideal for managing multi-party, inter-organizational, and cross-border transactions. Over the past five years, enterprises across the globe have vetted the technology with thousands of proofs of concept, but live deployments have been slow to come because partners using blockchain as a shared ledger have to agree on IP rights, governance, and business models. Government regulations have also impeded its widespread use.

It has taken the Covid-19 pandemic to push through the obstacles to blockchain adoption. The virus has revealed the weaknesses in our supply chains, our inability to deploy resources where they are most needed to address the pandemic, and difficulties in capturing and sharing the data needed to make rapid decisions in managing it. Blockchain solutions that have been under development for years have been repurposed and unleashed to address these challenges.

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Consider the work of Colonel James Allen Regenor, USAF (ret). Since 2013, he’s been building a blockchain-powered platform for buying and selling traceable 3-D printed parts and printing instructions for them as well as traditionally manufactured parts that are scanned and assigned unique tracking identifiers. He first led the project at Moog, which designs and manufactures advanced motion controls for aerospace and medical uses, and then he founded VeriTX in 2019 to bring the platform to market. Regenor built the platform to enable a decentralized manufacturing process in which customers can order and print parts, for example for medical devices, for use where and when they need them. The blockchain ensures tamper-proof design and printing instructions.

When Regenor realized that his platform could help with the medical devices needed to battle Covid-19, he leapt into action. He founded a new company, Rapid Medical Parts, in March 2020. He rallied a global network of partners, and in just 12 days the Pentagon awarded his company a contract for converting the abundant supply of sleep apnea machines into ventilators. The conversion requires additional parts that Rapid Medical Parts will print, and at a tenth of the cost of a new ventilator. The units should be in hospitals by mid-May.

It’s not just the nimble startups that are leveraging blockchain solutions to fight the virus. Organizations including the World Health Organization, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and other tech companies, government agencies, and international health organizations are partnering in building the blockchain-based open data hub called MiPasa. The platform, created by the enterprise blockchain firm HACERA, aims to quickly and precisely detect Covid-19 carriers and infection hotspots around the world. MiPasa will securely share information among individuals, hospitals, and authorities that will aid in public health analysis.

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The system creates digital identifiers that cannot be linked back to the data source and that prevent the dissemination of personally identifiable information. MiPasa validates the data by reconciling disparate data sources, such as figures from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others and ensuring that new data matches the original. As IBM explains in its Blockchain Blog, “MiPasa is designed to…synthesize data sources, address their inconsistencies, help identify errors or misreporting and seamlessly integrate credible new feeds.” By allowing global health organizations and companies to securely collaborate and share information while assuring robust privacy protection, MiPasa should become an important tool in helping to control the epidemic. Says MiPasa co-founder and HACERA CEO Jonathan Levi, “We have a huge community of organizations supporting and helping — instead of resistance at every step of the decision making process we are getting uplifted and pushed forward every step of the way.”

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - How the Pandemic Is Pushing Blockchain Forward The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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