Beginning in 2020, a Global battle against the new Coronavirus began. In the race against time, various new technologies have demonstrated their powers. Big data tracks close contacts to analyze the spread. Artificial intelligence is used in remote consultations. Infrared measuring instruments detect the temperature of human groups. Robots deliver meals to isolated people. Epidemic prevention and control is a systematic project of the whole society, and the monitoring and control of technical forces have played an inestimable role. So what role can the same blockchain technology be expected to play in this battlefield?

The characteristics of the blockchain: building an ideal “fortress of trust”

In the information society, we face massive amounts of fragmented information every day. This information comes from different media, through various channels, and may have undergone several “processing”, occupying your senses with unbridled expression. In daily life, you can of course choose to block or selectively obtain, but when you want to pursue the truth of an event and master complete and true information, you will find that this is actually a huge challenge.

Not only that, most people will not give up the need to restore the truth in extraordinary times. Especially in the face of sudden crisis events such as this epidemic, collective anxiety may even exacerbate this impulse, forcing people to use the most primitive ways to stitch fragments when they lack the necessary scientific tools. This also led to rumors at the beginning of the epidemic, about the spread of the epidemic, the number of people infected, the way of transmission, the control methods, various pieces of public opinion, expert advice, and platform information of mainstream and non-mainstream media. Very loud. There are also many questions raised by the Red Cross Society of Hubei Province not long ago. The Red Cross Society, which is responsible for receiving and distributing aid materials, was involved in a storm of public opinion due to the distribution of materials and opacity of information.

When uneven pieces of information are rushed together, those parts that can’t fit and join can easily become the focus of attention, especially when guessing can’t fill the cracks in logic and imagination, those parts may become Group panic breeds soil. Once the trust crisis breaks out, it is undoubtedly more difficult to rebuild trust. The seeds of doubt are always endless. In addition, in this epidemic, in addition to being authentic and credible, real-time nature is also one of the requirements of the public for information. The lagging information obviously cannot satisfy the public’s grasp of the situation, neither can it serve the implementation of the solution, nor can it facilitate the implementation of public supervision.

In response to this crisis, blockchain technology can make a difference in the construction of “credibility”.

1. Integrate information fragments and present data panorama. To respond to the epidemic, we need multisectoral, full-process, real-time data and information. At the same time, this information can be made available to the public to ensure the public’s right to know. The blockchain can improve the ability to respond to crisis events by sharing data among all participants, and can automate data sharing and storage in different levels of organizations, thereby realizing data integration throughout the process and showing a panoramic view of the data.

2. Open and transparent, not tamperable. 
Based on the data structure in the block, any data in the block is modified, so that the lower layer and the upper layer hash value in this block cannot correspond. In addition, any read, write, delete, and retrieve activities on the chain will leave marks. From this perspective, blockchain technology achieves openness and transparency of information and cannot be tampered with. If the infection cases in this epidemic are chained, information such as the onset time, disease changes, and treatment progress will be recorded on the chain, so that medical personnel and scientific researchers around the world can also grasp the trends in the non-infected areas to conduct research. It is also very beneficial to be able to break through the virus attack as soon as possible. At the same time, because the blockchain uses multi-party node authentication, each authenticated node must bear certain responsibilities, and it will also promote the collaboration efficiency of various departments. In the framework, at least each department, as a node on the chain, can clarify its own job responsibilities and responsibilities, rather than perfunctory responsibility on the ambiguous edge.

3. The whole process can be traced, which is easy for accountability. 
The introduction of the blockchain traceability mechanism, the accountability of this accountability, and the improvement of this improvement are conducive to the establishment of a society-wide prevention and control system. To the outbreak of material donations and distributed, for example, if the block in the chain which provides technical support, all the money and materials can be the first to achieve information on the chain of time. This can effectively get rid of the intermediary role of the middleman as a transfer channel for a large amount of assistance, thereby reducing problems such as misappropriation and theft. Because no matter how many links the material goes from the donor to the recipient, there are records to follow, and the problem of information breakage between logistics, warehousing, and distribution will not occur. Where is the donated material, whether it is distributed in a timely manner, where is the stall, and who is the ultimate beneficiary of the donated money, whether it has become a bucket of water, a bag of instant noodles, or a protective clothing, as a donor can be clear, no information is in the black box.

Many issues of trust were exposed during the public health crisis. “Credibility” is not only a moral concept of justice, but also a cornerstone of social affairs management. Increasing the public’s trust in the government, so as to cooperate with the government to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control, is the right way. Only through transparent and open information, clear coordination of powers and responsibilities, and active and traceable policy implementation can the government’s macro-coordination role be better exerted.

The reality of blockchain: large-scale application is still a long way to go

Blockchain as a cutting-edge technology toolbox is still in the early stages of development, and there is application in large scale. The popularity of the blockchain is relatively low. From a practical point of view, to promote the reality of the blockchain, certain conditions must also be met. From the perspective of epidemic prevention and control, the support and cooperation of multiple parties are still needed.

First, because blockchain requires the cooperation of participants, for example, donors and hospitals must have corresponding terminals. At the same time, in order to ensure the authenticity of the on-chain information, verifying the authenticity of the information is also a major challenge.

Second, because the links involved in the blockchain are extremely complex, its applications must be supported by infrastructure such as big data and cloud computing. This requires the government to coordinate the cooperation of various departments and open the corresponding big data interface, which requires that it be reflected in the top-level design.

Third, because the nature of distributed storage block chain requirements, the design of distributed nodes need to have professionals come to support. Relevant talent reserves still need to accumulate for a period of time.

Fourth, because world has a vast geographical area and regional economic and social development is still unbalanced, in the process of implementing the blockchain, the popularity of hardware facilities needs to wait for the opportunity. For example, to trace the trajectory of the infected person, a large number of cameras and local network connections are needed. At present, these infrastructures need to be improved, especially in relatively remote areas.

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