The world is going through a pandemic, financial markets are uncertain of their movements and the economy is on the edge of stumbling. Amidst the chaos, one good thing is that the world was never this technologically capable of handling such an undesirable phenomenon, but now, things are different. We have more technology now than ever. Right from Artificial intelligence to 3D printing, Drones, and Blockchain – Emerging Tech is breaking the norms.
I know what you’re thinking! This is the same old, “Let’s put blockchain in everything we can” kind of an article. Honestly? It’s okay to feel so. Blockchain was meant for real-life use cases, doesn’t change the fact it can be integrated into multiple ecosystems for better functionality.
Recently, I got a message from the government of India that was broadcasted in bulk to everyone. The message was about “Aarogya Setu” – a live COVID-19 case tracking application. The app has 10 million+ downloads from its launch which was a week ago!
I downloaded the application to check out the type of data the government was taking for tracking. Didn’t come through as a surprise when the application needed endless permissions regarding, your location and requires you to keep your device Bluetooth on.
Millions of people are totally fine with giving out their whereabouts just to make sure they’re safe [while quarantining in their homes] and at no point come in contact with a Covid-19 positive case. I mean does the general public care about what kind of applications suck their data and what is being done with it or not?
As a technology enthusiast, I care and most tech-savvy people do because we understand the importance of data and how it can be misused if fallen into wrong hands.
But Bluetooth seriously? The data between your device and the Bluetooth connected peripheral is encrypted but it isn’t too hard to not hack especially with the knowledge that millions of people in India have permitted it to be so.
With all the vulnerability even Bluetooth is not a problem, there might be no other accurate way to scale it this way. The problem comes in when you think about how the data is being handled.
To understand that better, I spoke to a couple of acquaintances and sources.
A source told me how if you mark as “sick” on the Aarogya Setu app the next thing would be taking the information offline. A person visits your home, marks down your symptoms and delivers it to the nearest testing center, and arranges for a test. At this point, the data goes offline.
We cannot track who all come out positive and who all don’t because there’s no empirical evidence after a point.
Indicating how the count for Covid-19 positive cases could be way more than its actual count of 7445 [at the time of writing]. We can fight this with a blockchain!
Each testing center/ hospital can run a node on the blockchain. Every time a person shows positive symptoms for COVID-19 and gives out the details of it, a trigger alerts the hospitals. The person gets a timeslot to run tests and the result of it is put out on a public blockchain if it comes out as positive.
Vikram Anand, the Co-founder of Hypermine a startup recently accelerated by Aeternity Ventures said:
“Blockchain can help in two aspects of COVID-19 traceability: Privacy and Tamper Proof. The privacy aspect stands second to tamper-proof. The primary setback is the way user data is being generated and stored. We don’t know for sure if it is being tampered or not, perhaps an immutable ledger can help over an unstructured database.”
While talking about blockchain to help in COVID-19 cases, a company that stands out is TruePic. Talk about bringing authenticity to the general public over all the photoshopped images and videos of Covid-19 cases.
To help us out understand a bit more, I reached out to Mounir Ibrahim the VP of Strategic Initiatives at Truepic, he said:
“Truepic is helping its partner CIEPD in Nigeria track the community and government’s response to COVID-19 with verified imagery. One important aspect to verified imagery is immutability, and currently, Truepic leverages Blockchain as a way to record immutable references to digital images and videos.”
All that is being said and done, I reached out to the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka Dr. Ashwathnarayan, to pitch how blockchain could actually help us out better, no comment as of now. I’ll update the article as soon as I get one.