Blockchain vs. COVID-19: how to immediate react and to be prepared

Submitted by Tedora Aibu on 02 July 2020

Summary of the European Alliance Against Coronavirus Daily Webinars on 26 June 2020 

This session was dedicated to a relatively new technology: blockchain. Smart technologies and digital solutions underpinning the Industry 4.0 (I4.0) paradigm are changing the way companies and societies are structured and managed. One of the most relevant technologies that can support I4.0 transformation is blockchain, well known for its capacity to offer new interactions and business models to decentralized networks and to allow the verifiable data interchange between different organizations and inside the levels of each organization - thanks to the ability to enhance characteristics as immutability and transparency with its implementation. Today, potential applications of blockchain have the possibility to support the development of the digital transformation and enable new and enhanced business models in the industrial environment.

Blockchain is a part of Distributed Ledger Technologies and it is a shared and immutable data structure. It is defined as a digital register whose entries are grouped in blocks, concatenated in chronological order, and whose integrity is guaranteed using encryption. Although its size is destined to grow over time, it is immutable because its content is no longer modifiable unless invalidating the entire data structure.

Blockchain technology can be read and extended by multiple nodes in a network. It is not required that the nodes involved know each other’s identity or trust each other. In fact, to ensure consistency between the various copies, the addition of a new block is globally regulated by a shared protocol. Once the addition of the new block is validated, each node updates its local copy. The features that unite the systems developed with blockchain and Distributed Ledger technologies, are data digitization, decentralization, disintermediation, transparency/reliability for the data in each block, record-keeping and encryption.

Related to the pandemic, Alessandro Vitale, member of Quadrans Foundation, shows with examples how the crisis highlighted the importance of digital tools to address immediate common needs and quick intervention globally and how Blockchain can help the post pandemic situation. Blockchain can be used to:

  • trace the COVID-19 test kits to certify origin, distribution and laboratory results
  • support scientific research to harness the power of distributed computing, to help calculation needed, to run simulation in search for treatment to COVID-19
  • certify and notarise smart working activities, track record of different topics and enable digital signature using smart contract.

Marco Crotta, from Blockchain Caffe, focused the discussion on the needs of a European Blockchain platform, identifying the benefits, the sector of usage, the methods and the relationship with GDPR. The main aspect to consider with blockchain is the trust issue, because blockchain represents an alternative in terms of security, reliability, transparency and costs to centralized databases and registries, recognised and regulated authorities (public administrations, banks, insurance, payment intermediaries, etc.). A specific focus was made on the differences and the potential of a public or a private blockchain.

A recording of the session is available here 

These are the complete minutes of the meeting: 

20200626 ECA dailyminutes_v2.pdf

These are the presentations from the meeting: 

UEBlockchainProposal_V0.2.pdf EU Blockchain.pdf

Find information on the previous meetings hereinformation on the upcoming agenda here 

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