Blockchain could help China respond better to Coronavirus, expert says

As China battles to contain the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, one expert believes that blockchain could greatly boost the country’s efforts. The virus has infected over 28,000 people in just three weeks, with 563 losing their lives so far. According to an academic at the University of Hong Kong, it’s time China turned to blockchain in its response efforts.

In his post on the Oxford University Faculty of Law blog, Syren Johnstone believes that the time to build borderless solutions based on decentralized technologies has come. Johnstone, who is the Executive Director of the Master in Laws Programme at the University of Hong Kong, pointed out that blockchain and artificial intelligence can be used to better manage crisis situations.

He stated, “A private blockchain network would enable the recording and tracking of anything that is donated, from donation dollars to N95 masks. It also creates clear points at which it is possible to hold a person or organization to account, from the loading of donations for delivery through to its final end-use.”

This blockchain network can also have public visibility, providing end-to-end transparency to all stakeholders. This would allow the donors to trace their donations, ensuring that they are going to the intended use, which would in turn push them to become even more involved.

The network would also allow the charity foundations to make informed decisions on how to spend the donations, based on sufficient data regarding the infection. Artificial intelligence could also be integrated in this step to feed data to the network on the infections, guiding the decision-making process.

He stated, “In a blockchain-based donations context, such outcomes would not only be driven by models developed by epidemiologists but also by the current and forecast supply and utilization of limited resources. AI can also provide visibility to the decision-making process, which is critical to restore public trust in the system and the ongoing flow of much needed donations.”

Currently, the Chinese government has directed all donations towards the Coronavirus outbreak to be channeled to five charity organizations. This centralization makes the response towards the epidemic slow and unnecessarily complicated, with historical data proving this centralization approach is counterproductive.

Blockchain is already in use in some of China’s largest companies including Alibaba and Tencent, so why not charities? Moreover, President Xi Jinping has called for blockchain adoption in China, proving the technology is here to stay. The Coronavirus crisis, unfortunate as it is, provides the tech industry the opportunity to develop decentralized solutions which could lay the foundation for the charity sector, he argued.

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