Spanish Researchers Working to Curb Coronavirus Spread With Blockchain App

The app, which is currently at the proof-of-concept stage, would potentially also allow for health officials to make smarter decisions. For example, if there’s an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, officials can choose to order citizens to stay at home.

Researchers in Spain are racing to develop a smartphone app that leverages blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to help stem the coronavirus pandemic.

A team of more than 100 researchers from the Institute of Biomedical Research of Salamanca, the University of Salamanca and the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute are developing the app to predict the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as ensuring government measures are being adhered to.

Using blockchain technology enables the app to give each participant a «digital identity» controlled by a private key that brings access a digital version of paper certificates issued by the government. These allow the confirmed healthy to leave home to buy food or to work, according to two lead researchers Juan Manuel Corchado and Javier Prieto, who spoke to IEEE Spectrum for a report on Thursday.

Corchado and Prieto said the team hopes to find the primary factors affecting the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

«With our app we are trying to provide information gathered about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the evolution of the virus,» Corchado and Prieto said. «We are also trying to support medical professionals and government officials about decisions they need to make regarding the pandemic, including social distancing and quarantine measures.»

As well as blockchain, the effort employs AI to help predict the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic based on patient information including genetic profiles, medical records and prior treatment of the virus. Utilizing what’s known as the Deep Intelligence AI platform, they can make predictions on the behavior of the virus by combining data and information from scientific journals, news articles and healthcare records.

The app would also coordinate foot traffic to limit the number of people gathered in one particular place.

«By providing people with an app, we are trying to guarantee that they are complying with social distancing and quarantine rules imposed by the government,» the researchers said.

Southern Indian State to Launch Dedicated Blockchain Incubator

The Indian state of Telangana is to launch a dedicated blockchain incubator.According to a report in the Times of India on Monday, Rama Devi, a senior official in the ITC Department of the state government, said the new incubator would soon team with top educational institutions, such as IIIT-Hyderabad and the Indian School of Business in order to support new startups in the working blockchain space.

“We have developed 12 use-cases wherein Blockchain technology can be used to solve some of the issues faced by citizens… in the coming days we are coming up multiple initiatives such as setting up incubator,» Devi said.

Devi was speaking at the sidelines of the launch of T-Block, a blockchain accelerator set up by the Telangana government in partnership with industrial giant Tech Mahindra.

Startups accepted into the accelerator will be provided a one-week boot camp followed by a month-long training program, with mentorship and advice from «experts in the startup and blockchain space,» according to the Times.

The Indian federal government has been keen to explore blockchain tech and has even spoken of the possibility of a digital rupee. In November 2019, Minister of state for electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said the government is drafting an approach paper on a national blockchain framework that will look at the potential for distributed ledger technology and the need for a common infrastructure for different use cases of the tech.

On the other hand, cryptocurrencies, the main use case for blockchain tech to date, have been suppressed amid reports the government is considering an outright ban.

The supreme court is currently hearing a case brought by the cryptocurrency industry attempting to lift a ban on banking services to crypto companies such as exchanges ordered by the central bank in April 2018.

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