Blockchain the Missing Link for Cities and Countries infrastructure as COVID-19 Exposes Global Infrastructure Fragilities

By Dinis Guarda - Apr 13, 2020
Blockchain supply chain infrastructure architecture infographic by Dinis Guarda for citiesabc.com

Blockchain technologies and related systems can create new global supply chains solutions for cities and governments but lots needs to be done

COVID-19 has been increasingly exposing the fragility of global supply chains. Blockchain technology and its related associated solutions and systems could be the missing link in building new avenues and resilience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of the global economy and especially its supply chains. The supply chain industry will probably change irreversibly, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and this will be increasingly important in food and healthcare industries, along many other areas where social distancing becomes restrictive.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the economic and social vulnerabilities for the global supply chain and the need for the world to digitally transform. This pandemic demonstrates many organisations fragility, especially those that have a high dependence on markets such as India and China to meet their raw materials or finished products’ needs, which are now leading to serious disruption.

The COVID-19 fallout is likely to impact principally food and core industries especially healthcare companies whom are reshaping the entire supply chains to strengthen the sourcing, provenance, risk management processes to become more resilient.

How blockchain technologies and processes can be the missing link as Covid-19 exposes the fragility of cities infrastructure and present economic and social supply chain and ID systems

50 years since the inception of the internet the world is becoming increasingly digital and recently the nascent adoption of Blockchain, Bitcoin and Smart Contracts, the next decade will be powered by distributed ledger technology solutions, encrypted systems and powered by 360 blockchain technology solutions. Blockchain technology and the industry that it has spawned, are now being integrated in part with traditional industries using well established integrated systems and technologies. All industries are adopting blockchain systems and as we digitally transform our societies and infrastructures we need to adopt distributed ledgers and smart contract apps which will result in creating better transparency and trust.

Almost all industries are now using some kind of blockchain solutions especially in Finance, Central Banks and Media. Cybersecurity and supply chain platforms will all be using parts of blockchain tech in the next years, following the S-Curve of technology diffusion out of the period of Installation and into Deployment. Covid-19 is accelerating this and we will see a ‘synergy’ and ‘consolidation’ of the so called DLT Distributed ledger technologies that will have a significant impact on society and in the industry complex, which for now is fragile given the non transparent chains of supply and demand.

Cities Strategy Architecture To Tackle The Global Context Impact of COVID-19, by Dinis Guarda for citiesabc.com

How Blockchain will be present in all areas of society and special in the way we manage cities and increasingly all cities will be smart cities

Some views on how Blockchain will be present in all areas of society and increasingly becoming the key foundational technology in parallel with AI.

1. Blockchain infrastructure will be critical to Governments and Central banks
Blockchain is becoming paramount for creating transparency, trust in data and its provenance for governments and central banks.

The central banks and governments that want to be leaders will have to adopt some part of blockchain distributed ledger systems, upgrade the data privacy/ID systems for their citizens, and enable adoption of the new digital financial assets, payments, money and currencies solutions.

2. Blockchain set of solutions will be the foundations of the Supply Chain 
Supply chain solutions and infrastructure smart contracts, for provenance utilising blockchain are becoming mainstream and the adoption will increase, but we need a holistic approach on the way it is integrated into cities infrastructure and nations. Multiple industry players are now understanding that the blockchain enabled supply chain will help solve trust, provenance and scale ways to understand all the cycles of supply chain and especially how cities can become smart cities.

Blockchain usage is now being applied to most of the challenges of the 360 complex Supply Chain industry, such as complicated product provenance, record keeping, managing tracking of identity of products, and services through the distribution and multiple logistic centres. As distributed ledger integrates with CRMs, where smart contract driven provenance dashboards take over and are aligned with Internet of Things “IOT” sensors, then they will provide less corruptible and better-automated, alternatives to the current centralised manual databases. This data will have better prediction on supply chain issues, demand led needs and avoid the disruptive scenarios that we are seeing in the Covid-19 pandemic.

3. Enterprise blockchain powered systems and AI, IOT enables SAAS

Enterprise blockchain SaaS platforms, are and will increasingly become embedded in all areas of business becoming the default platforms to manage enterprise management solutions, data business intelligence integration, distribution and encryption of secure databases with cloud data enabled solutions.

In the last few years there has been an explosion of interest in the distributed ledger technology, smart contracts on SaaS and PaaS as the new unparalleled organising force and an answer to enterprise problems that have plagued humans for thousands of years and that have emerged as being super fragile by the pandemic the world is currently facing.

Enterprise blockchain is becoming the underlying SaaS / PaaS new technology tools that are helping the creation of more effective networks which verify, validate, and secure information, data and supply chain, as a single source of truth. It also, adds layers of embedded fintech enabled payments, smart contracts, legal automating processes, and creates an overall friendlier, more efficient UX / UI user experience. This touches on all layers of business and finance such as these: Finance, Food, Agriculture, Media / advertising, Ticketing, Healthcare, Education, Real estate, Mining and Precious stones, Government and Nonprofit organisations.

Enterprise blockchain SaaS integrated with 4IR tech systems will grow and become the major technology for enterprise databases and corporate identity.

Reinventing Cities and its DNA with a new 4IR Magna Carta smart cities Architecture Vision, by Dinis Guarda for citiesbac.com

4. Cities are becoming the central hubs for the supply chain and especially the power regions in the world, which will emerge as cities states - Blockchain and AI enabled smart cities are super powers and their government as the become digitally transformed

Big Cities drive the world supply chain, economically, socially and financially dynamic As we have observed, China has emerged with its super cities and the other global super cities hubs that have emerged as the economic, social and innovative super powers. More than countries, cities hubs will lead the next decades of innovation with social economic leadership and wealth creation.

Cities and those particularly that are enabled smart cities will lead the next stage of the new economic world order. Blockchain and AI SaaS, will increasingly be the new drivers, since we need systems based on access to real and proper data in order to avoid the chaos that Covid-19 has so far highlighted.

Blockchain technology can empower the efficient use of finance and money especially with digital money. Current financial transactions are still mostly based on paper, that rely on legacy technology solutions by cities and nations worldwide. The increasing digital transformation of the economic systems, for cities and governments, can create a much better control system and solves serious issues that we are facing now.

As Christine Lagarde, the European Central Bank President, said a Central Bank Digital Currency for example  “could satisfy public policy goals, such as financial inclusion, and security and consumer protection; and to provide what the private sector cannot: privacy in payments”.

Blockchain has been an ideology, a synonym with crypto. It is much more a set of solutions we should use like we have done with internet, to digitally transform our social and economic cities and nations, by activating solutions, such as distributed database, identify software, incentives as tokenisation point systems, smart contracts, management of record, legal and property systems and many other paper based use cases. It is critical to highlight that blockchain is a technology, just like the internet which is a sum of multiple software solutions and services. Digitisation will finally grow into use, with institutions upgrading their legacy systems, business and corporations adoption, digital money trickling into the market based on fundamentals – real traction and usage from cities to smart cities from paper money to digital assets and money.

Healthcare institutions in particular suffer from an inability to securely share data across their departments and have a lack of solid data analytics on digitally enabled platforms. Better data analysis and collaboration between 360 supply chain and professionals with providers could ultimately mean a higher probability of accurate diagnosis, higher likelihood of effective insights to combat issues such as pandemics and find faster and more efficient treatments. The overall increased ability of healthcare systems to deliver, faster and secure cost-effective care.

The use of blockchain SaaS technologies, allows cities to improve on its present, fragile systems, and create a more comprehensive response to its citizens needs, empower circular economic models, that includes efficient supply chains, healthcare records, managed hospitals, financial and e-commerce systems.

We need cities to become smart cities systems that empower their citizens, their institutions and organisations whom are integral in the general supply chain systems. This requires data management of ID, full cycle provenance for goods and services, healthcare data intelligence management, digital enabled education, virtual and fundamental new jobs creation, value chain trust to share access to reliable networks without compromising data security, fake news and disingenuous information that lacks integrity.

A new magna carta for cities, a cities abc needs to emerge out of the present chaos and build a narrative of hope based on solid fundamentals and solutions to empower cities, nations and primarily its citizens. We have available, the technologies of blockchain, AI and Fourth Industrial revolution at hand and we just need to use it wisely.

Industry actions, comments and quotes on how tech, investment in 4IR blockchain can support and offer new directions for the supply chain industry

Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey a fintech major global player and evangelist in tech and blockchain, bitcoin came out of nowhere recently in April when he said he’d move $1 billion of his equity in fintech payment SaaS Square to a limited liability corporation (LLC) set up to fund Covid-19 relief, among other related solutions. This instantly established Dorsey as one the most important philanthropists, and don't forget he is also leading Twitter, the main social media news diffuser platform, in the world right now.

The Twitter thought leader, serial entrepreneur and founder stopped short of offering an exact figure for how much he plans to give for fighting coronavirus and its consequences, but he said he will detail each of his grants in this spreadsheet. Even if he gives just 10 percent of the $1 billion pledged for the Covid-19 response, Dorsey would become the world’s biggest individual donor on this matter.

Jack Dorsey is a technologist that is also a thought leader with strong views and proponent of using tech for good and ideas such as universal basic income.

Bill Gates

The thought leader and evangelist founder of Gates Melinda Foundation, Microsoft has emerged as, by far, the most visible tech thought leader during the coronavirus crisis after being a media active thought leader and committing directly $100 million, but much more through the combined efforts of gates Foundation. More important than that sum has been Gates’s willingness to use his thinking, research and voice and media power celebrity to offer an alternative to the world lack of leadership and increasing issues in geopolitics fake news and propaganda.

“In a vacuum, then, people like Bill [resonate more] if we don’t have that clarity of voice from our political leaders,” said Jeff Raikes, who ran the Gates Foundation for a decade and remains a close collaborator of the Microsoft co-founder.

Urte Jakimaviciute

Urte Jakimaviciute, MSc, Senior Director of Market Research at GlobalData, comments: “Pharmaceutical and medical device supply chains are extremely complex, with number of purchasing, manufacturing, testing and distribution activities taking place simultaneously. Lack of supply chain efficiency, transparency and authenticity has been an ongoing issue and the root of many challenges faced by the healthcare companies. While most organisations have supply chain risk management strategies in place, the current outbreak is not a typical event. The COVID-19 crisis is a huge stress test for the industry once again reiterating the need for change.”

Preventing faulty and counterfeit products from entering markets is a crucial step to assure an effective fight against the COVD-19 outbreak. EU countries such as the Netherlands and Spain have already flagged issues with faulty China-produced protective masks and testing kits, and the Australian Border Force has reportedly seized consignments of personal protective equipment (PPE) that was counterfeit or defective. In addition, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has disabled nine domain names and social media accounts that were selling fake or unauthorised COVID-19 products.

Jakimaviciute adds: “Without transparency at all points in the supply chain, it is difficult to identify the source of the transgression or verify the authenticity of the product. Blockchain-based systems could provide an open, tamper-proof, distributed record of transactions and, in turn, increase accuracy and efficiency. Healthcare organisations, from manufacturers to distributors, could trace products through supply chains ensuring authenticity or flagging any potentially issues, such as signs of tampering or inadequate handling.

“Blockchain has broad implications for the healthcare industry. More cases have recently emerged due to the need to simplify and improve security and accuracy for cumbersome, inefficient supply chain processes. While it may be too late to incorporate any sizable blockchain-related solutions to manage impact of the coronavirus on supply chains, as the technology is still in a proof-of-concept stage, blockchain remains as one of the most promising solutions to facilitate data sharing, improve regulatory compliance and adherence with serialisation regulations.”

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