In times like these when companies are forced to cut costs and increase efficiency, when supply chains are heavily impacted and trust is low between businesses and community engagement plummets due to emergency lockdowns of entire cities or countries, there is an increased reliance on technology as the solution to all of these problems. Therefore, in the wake of the current Covid-19 crisis, countries and all kinds of organisations alike have been forced to reconsider their operational infrastructure and policies in order to adjust during these turbulent circumstances. Many of them that have held onto traditional business models, relying heavily on physical interactions are now implementing remote or online based models of work. Similarly, countries have doubled down on their technology projects to tackle domestic issues which range from a lack of manpower to a lack of data insight. This truly unfortunate crisis has made us realise what we are actually capable of doing and instilled within us that when push comes to shove, we can and will adapt to tackle adversity head on.
Technological innovation both in software and hardware have continuously increased efficiency, lowered costs, and created new opportunities through digitisation and automation. Blockchain is currently leading the charge in the fight against Covid-19 by providing organisations, public and private, an opportunity to do more with less catering both to resource and physical contact limitations.
On one hand, blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is currently being used by governments across the globe to directly and indirectly tackle Covid-19. The Chinese government in collaboration with technology companies have effectively used blockchain for secure information sharing across stakeholders to ensure immutability and to guard against fraudulent data. Moreover, this technology is also being used for an online bidding system to enhance transparency and reduce the need for physical exchanges whereas a donation tracking platform based on blockchain is aiding to alleviate the strain on financial resources.
More recently, the World Health Organization has also begun utilising blockchain for sharing data related to the coronavirus pandemic signifying an uptake in collaborative approaches across domestic and international stakeholders.
On the other hand, state bureaucracies, such as those in the UAE, have been implementing electronic government services based on the blockchain which effectively allows citizens and businesses to digitally interact with state services. This not only reduces reliance on offices and the need for physical contact, but also increases efficiency for the government and reduces their costs which would allow for the better allocation of state resources. These services rely heavily on a secure digital identity which is foundational for electronic transactions. The UAE Pass App tackles this by providing citizens with a smart phone based application that allows local residents to authenticate themselves and sign documents digitally.
Digitisation today is no longer a luxury but a necessity. This is true not only for the short term where we collectively tackle the spread of Covid-19, but also for the long run once we enter the post pandemic world. Emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence allow organisations to truly revolutionise their processes and leapfrog many decades of industrialisation. It is important that governments and corporations globally pay attention to the signs of the times and strategise to speed up adoption in order to ensure that they are prepared to tackle challenges of the future.
Unfortunately, there is no doubt that the impact of the pandemic is likely to continue through most of the coming months and years thus we must look closely at how technology can help us adapt to this new reality.
Nabil Irfan: research analyst at Blockchain Guru specialised in Digital Identity & eGovernment services
Bozena Szyperek: International Business Development, Egypt & MENA Region