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Building a blockchain to verify COVID-19 data

The World Health Organization, in partnership with tech giants, government agencies and international health organizations, is building a blockchain-based control and communications system that aims to quickly and more precisely detect COVID-19 carriers and infection hotspots.

Announced March 27, MiPasa promises to securely share previously siloed health and location information between individuals, state authorities and health institutions such as hospitals and HMOs. Major partners include IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Hacera, an enterprise-level blockchain-powered platform provider, which recently launched a data analytics platform to combat inaccurate COVID-19 data.

According to IBM’s announcement of the project, MiPasa is designed to solve one of the main problems facing clinicians, scientists and researchers: “the lack of integration of verified data sources that can be used with confidence.”

MiPasa uses the IBM Blockchain Platform and IBM Cloud to make data analytics and privacy tools openly available on a Hyperledger platform and deliver an integrated source of verified cases. Users will be able to synthesize data sources -- addressing their errors and inconsistencies -- and seamlessly integrate credible new feeds, according to the company.

Public health officials and individuals could upload data about the time and exact location of different infections. This data would be stripped of personally identifying information but could be used to calculate exposure risk, “helping hospitals prioritize resources and letting individuals know whether it’s really critical for them to get a test,” IBM said.

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 new data matches the original. It also encourages validation comes by individuals who can report inconsistencies or bad data.

The major benefit of using a blockchain-enabled platform is that it provides verifiable data because the distributed ledger technology allows for multiple parities to collaborate over the validity of rapidly updating data, Jerry Cuomo, the vice president of IBM blockchain,  told CoinTelegraph.

To further lock down security, MiPasa is using privacy and cryptography modules “that have been implemented by the world’s top applied cryptographers” and are currently in production in certified mission-critical systems, the project’s website states.

MiPasa is soliciting individuals and organizations to help with development of the platform along with “data warriors” to report data sources.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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