Latin American and Carribean Citizens Are Coordinating COVID-19 Deconfinement With This New Ethereum Application
In an effort to crowdsource information about the movement of COVID-19, a region-wide Ethereum project launched last week that is poised to become a powerful blockchain onramp for millions of users in Latin America and the Caribbean. Last Tuesday, the LACChain alliance, an initiative of IDB Lab, released DAVID19, a platform built on Hyperledger Besu that is designed to help citizens work together to create a real-time, interactive tracking map to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and coordinate progressive deconfinement. The DAVID19 platform uses Besu’s advanced privacy features so that citizens can anonymously share personal data and safely aggregate information about the health status of people across the region.
How the DAVID19 Platform Works
The DAVID19 application is available at app.mellamodavid19.org and currently supports the REM ID digital wallet. Users can create a profile and upload data about their health status. The platform then anonymizes and aggregates citizens’ private health data to create a real-time interactive tracking map of COVID-19’s movement across the region. Whereas some tracking projects like Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 map compile data top-down from public health authorities, DAVID19 uses a bottom-up approach, calling on individual citizens to contribute personal health updates.
As more users onboard to the platform and regularly update their health status and movements, the ecosystem of data will become increasingly rich and help both citizens and government authorities coordinate progressive deconfinement. LACChain sees this rollout as phase 1 of a longer-term plan to mainstream a blockchain-based credential system, what the alliance calls a “life portfolio in your pocket.”
“A problem of the magnitude of COVID-19 requires a collective and solidary response.”Alejandro Pardo Vegezzi, Leader of LACChain and DAVID19
“Masking Up” With Ethereum: How Hyperledger Besu Protects Private User Data
Hyperledger Besu is an open source Ethereum client that was originally developed and submitted to the Hyperledger greenhouse in 2019 by PegaSys, ConsenSys’ protocol engineering team. Because of its advanced privacy and permissioning features, Hyperledger Besu has become an increasingly popular blockchain platform for enterprises that need to customize network access and protect private transaction data. With Besu, the DAVID19 platform ensures that users can anonymously share their health status and trust that their personal data and geolocation is untraceable. All data is stored locally in users’ mobile devices.
“This solution, which uses digital wallets and LACChain’s blockchain network, uses Hyperledger Besu to ensure that the information provided by users is completely anonymous and transparent.”Marcos Allende, LACChain’s Technology Coordinator
A 3-Phase Plan to Build a Long-Term Digital Infrastructure
Phase 1: Citizen-to-Citizen
The initial phase of DAVID19 entails bootstrapping a “citizen-to-citizen” platform, in which voluntary users can anonymously share information through self-assigned credentials. This collaborative environment will allow millions of people across the region to crowdsource data and generate COVID-19 risk maps, “helping to make this invisible enemy visible,” as LACChain said in their announcement last week. Alejandro Pardo Vegezzi, Leader of LACChain and DAVID19, explained that one goal of phase 1 is to “create a culture of digital wallets, without giving our data away to big tech and governments.”
Phase 2: Business-to-Citizen
As private companies and third-party issuers join the DAVID19 ecosystem, they will be able to issue more sophisticated credentials to app users, such as work re-entry permits, affidavits, medical certifications, travel permits, and academic degrees. The growing network of verified credentials will help organizations better monitor medical resources, manage the healthcare response, and coordinate deconfinement. For users, the app will allow them to verifiably demonstrate that they are in a healthy condition to resume activities such as work and travel.
Phase 3: Long-Term Contact Tracing
DAVID19 will ultimately serve as a digital infrastructure to prepare the region for future outbreaks and emergencies. Blockchain-based contact tracing will help public health agencies identify and interrupt disease vectors, as well as alert contacted individuals to the possibility of infection. While the DAVID19 was launched to immediately manage the medical response around COVID-19, the platform is designed to operate as a long-term credential management system for potential public health crises in the future.
The PegaSys team has closely partnered with the LACChain alliance by supporting the setup of the LACChain network. The team was pleased to support the DAVID19 rollout and share best practices and performance metrics around Hyperledger Besu. The platform is a compelling case study of the value of blockchain technology for credential management, especially during public health emergencies, as well as another proof point for privacy solutions on Ethereum. DAVID19 also demonstrates the performant and reliable nature of the Hyperledger Besu platform and the advantages of its design for these types of applications.
The LACChain alliance calls on everyone to join the movement and download the application at app.mellamodavid19.org. “DAVID19 offers all of us the opportunity for a digital way out of our confinement,” Vegezzi commented, a way “to become heroes and protagonists in the face of this pandemic.”
To learn more about DAVID19 and how blockchain technology is being used to fight the spread of coronavirus, sign up for the BSIC and IDB Webinar on May 29, “COVID and Blockchain for Latin America.”