Acoer: We Track Coronavirus on Blockchain

Blockchain cannot heal. But it can help assess the threat. Digital Asset Live Editor-in-Chief talked to Jim Nasr, Acoer CEO. His team has developed a blockchain based tracker to visualise the spread of coronavirus.

Q1: If you were to explain to an outsider how your tracker works, how would you do it?

A1: The tracker takes public data made available through different authoritative sources (CDC, WHO and Google Trends so far) and displays in aggregate (for a global perspective) and allows for simple and visual filtering, dynamic changes based on values selected and ability to download selected data (either as images or CSV files for later analysis)

Q2: What exactly can it show?

A2: Aggregate coronavirus data updated on daily basis, filtered down to individual countries, showing total cases, number reported dead, number reported recovered, (where data allows) death and recovery per 100 people, as well as Google trends based on publications

Q3: Do you plan to develop further functionalities, which ones?

A3: Yes, we’re actively looking to mesh in additional historical data for baselining and non-clinical data (possibly Twitter) for further context

Q4: How many use the tracker now?

A4: It’s only available on request to journalists, researchers and public health analysts (due to managing costs). We have around 30 named users/organizations at this time.

Q5: Why did you choose Hedera Hashgraph?

A5: We are a big believer in public DLTs as a means for transparency of data interaction and trust worthy data provenance. We are also big proponents of Hedera due to the near real-time nature of the consensus algorithm (ABFT) and its ability to scale to 10k+ tx per second.

Further, we have built our HashLoad product – which we use for ingestion of data for the coronavirus tracker (using our visualization software HashLog) – with a Hedera backend.

Again this allows us to have near real-time audibility of any data ingestion, access or changes and have that proven with entries on the Hedera public ledger. We think of this approach as imputing “computational trust”. I have attached a screenshot of HashLoad audit trail with Hedera verification from our website.

Q6: With your background in healthcare, what other uses of DLTs in public health do you envisage?

A6: Certainly Ethereum and Fabric are already being used. I think DAG (directed acyclic graph) consensus technologies (such as Hedera, IOTA, EOS, etc) can have a good fit for near-real time healthcare transaction requirements, such as IoMT supply chain (certifications, maintenance, disposal, etc), as well as – long term – for patient data access and monetization opportunities, directly or through data market places.

To me the key thing is not so much the specific DLT (though certainly some are much more realistic for certain use cases) but ultimately the ability to have interoperability across DLTs (at least a few of the more relevant ones). Much of the interoperability needs to be thought of as application design and through use of Open APIs (including FHIR) and decoupling logic from the chain.

I think smart contracts have lots of issues at this time and not the right technical approach for most use cases at this time – better to design a more antifragile application that leverages DLTs for what they are really good at (transaction verification) than what they are not really designed to do.