The World Health Organisation is partnering with big tech firms such as IBM and Microsoft, and government health departments to develop a blockchain superhighway of information.
The initiative, MiPasa, will use the IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric blockchain, to analyse data and track hotspots worldwide for coronavirus infections, and predict future epidemic trends.
Governments and public health NGOs worldwide are collaborating to source and utilize this data, with big names in ICT and software IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, partnering with WHO, the PRC and Hong Kong’s Health Departments, the Canadian government, the US, EU and Chinese CDC’s (Centres for Disease Control), and the renowned Johns Hopkins University.
Earlier in March, partnering with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Energy, IBM and Microsoft launched a new super-computing initiative to develop medical responses to the Coronavirus epidemic. According the Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research, the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium would use supercomputers at MIT, NASA, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and elsewhere to screen protein compounds to bind with the virus.
“These high-performance computing systems allow researchers to run very large numbers of calculations in epidemiology,bioinformatics, and molecular modelling,” Director Dario Gil wrote, in a press release. “These experiments would take years to complete if worked by hand, or months if handled on slower, traditional computing platforms.
IBM has already been developing technologies to utilize blockchain for data science and logistics, such as the IBM Food Trust, which allows producers and consumers to track where food comes from and is delivered as an end product. This is now being branched out to reinvent supply chains for medical products and groceries amidst shortages, with Ramesh Gopinath, Vice President of IBM Blockchain Solutions, saying blockchain supply chain products allow more targeted responses to public crises such as the Covid-19 epidemic.
Chinese firms have innovated blockchain products to solve problems caused by the crisis, such as Alipay, a blockchain platform to track supply chains for medical supplies and PPE, developed by private developers and the Zhejiang Provincial Health Commission.
MiPasa’s aims are not simply to track regions of infection density and mark them out as “hotspots”, as many data scientists have already, but to go a step further by detecting and predicting infection routes, both mapping the spread of the current pathogen and forecasting future pathways for diseases.
Crucial to this is feeding data from governments and NGOs through blockchain into AI super-processors, streamlining the data and availability of the information. Governments worldwide have been criticized for a lack of transparency and with holding information about the extent of the epidemic, from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the People’s Republic of China and the United States Federal Government.
Developing solutions with transparency and freedom of information goes to the very premise of blockchain and is one of the many ways the Covid-19 epidemic will shape the world economy for decades to come.
Last month, US largest Ethereum miner CoreWeave announced their participation in combating Coronavirus by directing the compute power of over 6,000 GPUs to the Folding at Home project.
Amsterdam-based blockchain technology company, Bitfury, also joined the movement and encouraged everyone to do the same.
Folding at Home project was established by a consortium of research labs across America, Europe, and Asia for disease research and pharmaceutical development. Previously, they helped to find the cure for Ebola by simulating the protein from the Ebola virus.
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