How Blockchain can aid COVID-19 recovery

How Blockchain can aid COVID-19 recovery

One of the few silver linings of the recent pandemic has been the discovery of new technologies and industries that have helped the world recover from these unprecedented times. 

Still an emerging concept, work-from-home platforms have allowed hundreds of organizations to sustain their operations partially or even wholly during lockdown. According to a report by Statistics Canada published in late May, around 39% of the corporate workforce in Canada were working from home during the lockdown.

Similarly, digital learning has enabled thousands of schools and colleges retain some semblance of normalcy for students by continuing their education. For instance, University Canada West has come up with a detailed COVID-19 safety plan that includes both online classes and limited on-campus learning.

The use of predictive modelling for identifying infection hot spots is another example of technology being used for recovery from the pandemic. According to a report published by the Canadian government, predictive modelling has been an integral part of the government’s public health response to the pandemic in Canada.

Blockchain technology is making a similar contribution to the global recovery from the pandemic. This blog investigates the role of Blockchain in the current times and the way it is improving our responses to COVID-19.

What is Blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology is a decentralized system that allows companies to record every transaction made on a specific platform by storing data that spans thousands of gigabytes. 

Another essential feature of the technology is its transparency, which means that the information stored is visible to everyone. This transparency makes it more difficult for people to engage in fraudulent transactions. According to a recent report by CNBC, Blockchain is predicted to prevent $31 billion in fraudulent transactions in the global food industry by 2024.

Benefits like transparency, decentralization and security of transmitted information make it easy for organizations to apply Blockchain systems across multiple industries and domains. 

Here are some ways global entities are using Blockchain to counteract the adverse effects of the pandemic:

Tackling management issues in supply chain management

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns dramatically impacted the global supply chain. Despite the demand for certain goods like food and medical supplies, many associated production plants had to shut down due to safety concerns. Blockchain helped cater to this increased demand by identifying and verifying the production capabilities of different production facilities in a short time.

Blockchain technology has also been used as an effective tool to solve supply chain management issues. This was seen with the network, Rapid Supplier Connect, launched by IBM, which partnered with hospitals and healthcare providers. The system allowed healthcare facilities to quickly identify the availability of medical supplies and PPE kits in different facilities in nearby areas, saving time and lives. This advanced Blockchain system created an efficient on-boarding process that allowed companies to verify their inventories in nearby facilities almost instantaneously.

Contact tracing for new cases

An important factor in containing the spread of the pandemic was tracing the source of infection to the original individual, a process known as contact tracing. Supporting contact tracing with Blockchain helped epidemiologists collect patient data more quickly, bypassing the red-tape culture in the healthcare industry.

A Canadian technology company called VitalHub Corp. launched a Blockchain-based COVID-19 screening tool (DOCit) in Sunny Side Home, a healthcare facility in Waterloo, Ontario.  DOCit is a mobile app that monitors the appearance and status of different COVID-19 symptoms in users and shares them with other users to avoid the risk of transmission immediately. 

There are numerous other potential areas where Blockchain technology can aid the restoration of normalcy in the world, such as polling booths. Physical voting at polling booths can increase the risk of exposure for both poll workers and the voters. Some would argue that this issue can be resolved using a secure Blockchain backed voting mobile app. However, as per a report by IDC, the idea is still under review and must undergo many pilot tests to show significant results.

The reliability and transparency of Blockchain technology offers much-needed technological support for recovery from the pandemic.

Interested in learning more? University Canada West recently launched a series of Blockchain workshops.

Each workshop is around 2 hours long. The sessions can be taken on their own or all together as a pathway program for a Certificate of Achievement from the Canadian College of Technology and Business. 

Click here to learn more about the workshops.

Published on August 18, 2020.