Blockchain and AI Amidst the Coronavirus Crisis: ‘A Call to Arms’

Innovative blockchain and AI-based management systems can be a crucial part of preventing outbreaks altogether. The coronavirus crisis is a call to arms for the tech industry to get actively engaged in finding better solutions via blockchain and artificial intelligence. Hyperchain and Acoer are two tech startups working in this direction.

China’s tech industry is already engaged in finding solutions to hardships associated with coronavirus.

However, as the illness spreads across borders and plagues several other nations, global tech firms must come together on a cooperative platform and collaborate to find solutions.

Syren Johnstone, Executive Director of the Master in Laws program at the University of Hong Kong, stated, “The time to develop borderless solutions based on fit-for-purpose technologies is now. Let us not wait and find ourselves in the future again talking sentimentally about ‘lessons that were learned.’”

In his opinion article, published by the Oxford Business Law Blog, Johnstone went on to elaborate that the tech industry had the necessary knowledge, experience, and resources to improve the global community’s response to and management of a crisis.

Here’s how Johnstone believes blockchain technology and artificial intelligence can radically change the landscape of crisis response:

Blockchain and AI in the Charity Sector

Particularly in the charity industry, blockchain and AI could help with the management of complex and large amounts of data that is related to the infection and is thus continually changing with the situation. Here, AI can help analyze data instantly to answer data-dependent questions and make expert judgments.

At the same time, blockchain and AI are vital instruments that can improve the transparency of the donation process and enhance the visibility of the decision-making process.

For example, a private blockchain network would allow for the recording and tracking of donations, such as protective gear like N95 masks that are in high demand.

Additionally, blockchain can track donations from the point of their source to the point of their delivery to the end-beneficiary. Therefore, donors, beneficiaries, and public oversight bodies can track the progress of donations made and verify that the intended parties have received them.

In China, trust in the system was a significant problem amidst the initial months of the coronavirus outbreak. Supplies donated for hospitals and medical personnel were taken by non-healthcare workers, while doctors and nurses continued to plead for essential protective gear as they worked on the frontlines to combat the pandemic.

In light of such scandals, blockchain’s inherent transparency and reliability can be a critical part of restoring public trust in the charity system and central governmental institutions – which is essential to continued donations that support limited resources.

Case in Point: Hyperchain

In China, Hyperchain’s blockchain-based donation tracking platform named Shanzong – launched in response to donation scandals amidst coronavirus – attracted over $2 million in donations within a matter of days.

(Source: Hyperchain)

In a statement to South China Morning Post, Hyperchain stated, “Shanzong guarantees the authenticity of donation information by putting it on the blockchain, which cannot be changed or deleted. This is the biggest difference [with traditional charitable donations].”

Key donors on the Shanzong platform include New Sunshine Charity Foundation and Yuegou Living Supermarket. Major recipients consist of hospitals leading coronavirus response in the Hubei province, such as the Jiayu People’s Hospital, the Tongshan People’s Hospital, and the Xiantao No. 1 People’s Hospital.

Blockchain and AI for Better Crisis Management

Apart from their application in the philanthropy sector, blockchain and AI can also support medicinal safety by helping humans determine optimal outcomes based on “models developed by epidemiologists” and “the current and forecast supply and utilization of limited resources.”

During any pandemic-like situation, the data that informs decisions is subject to constant and rapid change. This inevitably makes it out of date and further complicates the process of determining how to proceed to achieve the best possible results.

Here, AI can be deployed to assist humans in determining where and when the limited resources should be spent effectively and efficiently.

In the wake of coronavirus, multiple private initiatives are working to track data regarding the number of infections, patterns of the disease’s spread, medical supply chain – to name a few.

Case in Point – Acoer

Acoer is an Atlanta-based blockchain-enabled application developer that aims to build secure and tamper-proof software that reinforces qualities of usability, interoperability-by-design, transparency, and computational trust.

computational trust
(Source: Acoer)

The blockchain company announced that it would be helping its healthcare and life sciences clients track and visualize the spread of coronavirus from its outbreak to the global pandemic.

Acoer’s coronavirus HashLog dashboard is a data visualization engine built on the Hedera’s decentralized public network. It interacts in real-time with Hedera Hashgraph, the enterprise-grade distributed public ledger.

The HashLog dashboard aims to collect data from credible public sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and consolidate them on a single platform.

Data and trends incorporated on the platform include:

  1. total number of confirmed cases;
  2. total number of deaths and recoveries;
  3. percentage of deaths and recoveries;
  4. cases confirmed by country; trends in confirmed cases, fatalities and recoveries over time;
  5. name and status of clinical trials by state;
  6. list of trials and their study phases;
  7. latest coronavirus updates from newsrooms and social media.
Acoer Dashboard
(Source: Acoer Dashboard)

With coronavirus rising to the level of a global pandemic, misinformation and conflicting data from different sources only serve to further panic amongst people and cause widespread chaos.

During such a crisis, the HashLog platform aims to serve as a source of truth by delivering consistent, factual information for researchers, scientists, journalists, healthcare professionals, and the public.

Acoer CEO, Jim Nasr, said, “There is a growing supply of data about the virus, but the information is not necessarily easy to visualize, consume, or extract in a simple way. With HashLog our objective is to make data collection automated, and data visualization rich, dynamic, and intuitive.”

“Particularly with my own public health background and tenure at the CDC, we are also huge believers that supporting public health is an incredibly important mission and as much as we can do, it is our responsibility to innovate to enhance it,” he added.

Mahima Duggal

Mahima Duggal has completed her MA in International Security from the University of Warwick (UK) with distinction. She also holds a BSc (2:1 Honours) in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She is a trained journalist who has completed an undergraduate degree in journalism and public relations from the University of Newcastle in Australia. Mahima's research interests involve technology, cyber security, human rights and international development. She follows all things crypto and strongly promotes the use of blockchain technology for social change.

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