Big names including IBM, Oracle and the World Health Organization (WHO) are among the collaborators on an open-data hub that will use blockchain technology to check the veracity of data relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
The solution, dubbed MiPasa, is launching as a “COVID-19 information highway,” said Jonathan Levi, CEO of Hacera, the company that built the platform.
MiPasa, built on Hyperledger Fabric, is expected to evolve as a range of data analytics tools are added, followed by testing data and other information to assist with the precise detection of COVID-19 infection hotspots.
“We feel that there isn’t enough information out there to make informed decisions,” said Levi. “How can we help all the people that would like to get access to data, analyze it and provide insights?”
Enterprise blockchain consortia of the type IBM normally inhabits can take months to assemble, but in this case, Big Blue enlisted a range of heavy hitters in no time at all.
Other players involved in the platform include: Microsoft, Johns Hopkins University, China’s National Health Commission and more. WHO did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
IBM Blockchain CTO Gari Singh said everyone he had spoken with agreed it was important to “kickstart a consortium” as soon as possible.
“We started off brainstorming ideas on how to collect, provide and use verified information about the virus,” said Singh. “It’s not that we were trying to force blockchain into this solution, but we thought we need to replicate data, we need to have trusted sources, we need to make sure it can’t be tampered with.”
IBM is also bringing the Call for Code initiative to work on the platform to rapidly create tools that might be able to help stem the crisis. Looking ahead to the coming weeks, Singh said things like coronavirus testing data could be added to the platform.
“You could think of a simple set of applications for the drive-through testing,” he said. “Using an iPad you could enter some information without having to know who the person was. We can start to collect that and build new applications off that.”
Hacera’s Levi said analytics tools can provide powerful insights, provided everyone can be sure and agree all the data on the platform (which is entirely open and free to use) is correct and consistently versioned. He said a host of companies are offering their data smarts to help curb the virus.
“Lots of data tool providers are getting involved. Everybody is rushing to help and nobody is charging a cent,” said Levi.