As we plunge deeper and deeper into the global pandemic, we are beginning to see a difference between how countries are dealing with the impact. Some countries have been praised for their forethought, whilst others have been scorned for their apparent insensitivity.
From the start Germany strived to maximise the number of tests they carried out, which has shown to be incredibly beneficial. At the time of writing, they have had well over 160,000 positive cases, they have only recorded around 6,500 deaths, far lower than any other country with similar cases. America on the other hand, have registered in excess of 60,000 deaths1. There are of course many factors that contribute to the case and death rates, but one thing we can be sure of is providing the correct medical supplies significantly reduces the impact on health and the associated suffering.
Recently, NHS staff already stretched to capacity were faced with a dire shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It took far longer than it should have for the equipment to be ordered. Once it had been ordered and shipped, it became delayed in Turkey due to red tape issues2. In a time of crises, we need everyone pulling in the same direction. Put simply, delays cost lives.
The challenge of supply chains
It is never going to be easy to coordinate multiple industries at incredibly short notice, especially to deliver on huge orders of equipment. But the fact that we still rely on outdated systems, often involving paperwork, shows just how behind the times we are. It is no secret that supply chains are complex.
In order to successfully manufacture and deliver any of the thousands of products we rely upon daily, a monumental effort on behalf of many hundreds of people and companies is required. It is necessary to coordinate the movement of millions of components through myriad jurisdictions and/or governments in locations across the globe. Some of the items may be precious, rare, fragile or even dangerous and come with their own laws and regulations regarding their containment and transportation.
Medical supplies and pharmaceuticals often require extensive documentation to be shipped, given their potential for misuse. With all the inherent difficulties, we need a system that removes complexity such that everything can get to where it needs to be, particularly in times of crisis.
An improved system
It may come as no surprise that blockchain is being hailed as one of the biggest game changers for the supply chain industry, particularly in the shipping of goods. A blockchain is, in essence, a straightforward record of events or transactions. The transactions could be financial, verification of identity or simply the exchange of data.
Due to the fact that a blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology (DLT) information is not stored in one central location but is spread across an entire network of computers. The benefit of this is that a blockchain is incredibly difficult to hack, any information entered is more or less guaranteed to be secure. The aspect of blockchain that may well have the greatest impact on shipping, is in its ability to automate processes through use of smart contracts.
A smart contract is essentially a piece of computer code that executes a transaction, provided certain predefined conditions have been met, removing the need for expensive middlemen or intermediaries. The benefits of smart contracts are obvious, improved speeds and reduced costs, however there is a critical need to ensure the data they rely on is 100% accurate.
The Proof of Trust provides assurance
In order to realise the full potential, we must also acknowledge and address the current limitations of blockchain. Of particular importance, and this cannot be underestimated, is the security of smart contracts. In order to create a smart contract, real world data must be extracted from a website or any reliable data source.
A person with significant coding experience (an oracle) is often employed to perform the task of translating written information into computer code. While you would expect that an oracle will perform the task to a high standard, it is impossible to guarantee that any individual will work entirely without error. The Proof of Trust protocol is a way of minimising the inevitable human error associated with creating and submitting smart contracts. By dissipating risk across a panel of expert ‘Delegates’, the single point of failure associated with oracle input is averted.
Delegates must all vote on the validity of the smart contract, before the transaction finalises. Our anti-collusion algorithm not only ensures Delegates work independently, but also places strict time restraints on submission to guarantee the process remains quick an efficient.
There is of course a great need to speed up many processes in supply chains, regardless of the situation. Ultimately, businesses and customers will benefit from greater transparency and reduced friction. However, during a global pandemic there is a far more pressing need for efficiency. Lives are at risk. The Proof of Trust can provide blockchain solutions that facilitate the transportation and shipping of medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals. Red tape has proven to be a massive barrier in the movement of goods during the coronavirus pandemic, leading to outrage amongst the general public.
We, at The Proof of Trust, make smart contracts smarter by ensuring the data they have is accurate. On the few occasions things do go wrong, we provide a mechanism for dispute resolution such that any creases are ironed out quickly. Automation of predefined agreements will inevitably reduce the delays that we currently face on a far too regular basis. Our solutions make it possible for supply chains to reap the rewards of blockchain technology without having to worry about any of the potential pitfalls.
- Coronavirus Cases: (2020, April 21). Retrieved from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?utm_campaign=homeAdUOA?Si.
- Harding, T. (2020, April 20). Coronavirus: Vital UK PPE supplies held up by Turkish red tape. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/coronavirus-vital-uk-ppe-supplies-held-up-by-turkish-red-tape-1.1008575.