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COVID-19 Contact Tracing

The past few months have really given us all a crash course in epidemiology. The vast majority of us now know more about the spread of infectious disease and the importance of "flattening the curve" than we ever thought we'd know. I even recently watched Contagion because...well, I don't really know why I watched it (am I a masochist?). But that movie had a pretty interesting depiction of epidemiologists' efforts to trace an outbreak back to an index patient, also known as "patient zero." If you're not in the throes of anxiety about what's currently happening in the world, I'd recommend it giving it a watch.

As the country (and the world) continue to find ways to manage a truly global health crisis, the public health experts have emphasized the need for local communities to have adequate contact tracing processes in place. This process traditionally involves individuals with specialized training working with patients to identify all of the people they've been in contact with within a certain period of time in order to trace the spread of a disease. What has typically been a labor-intensive process is being made less labor-intensive by leveraging technology.

But with the deployment of technology comes concerns inherent in all big data undertakings--namely, privacy and security. My fellow blockchain evangelists think that blockchain could be the answer to these concerns. Blockchain has a number of laudable features and its use of encryption to protect and control access to data is probably one of its most desired. Encryption doesn't allay all of our concerns with large collections of personal data but it could go a long way in ensuring that our data doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

As we enter this next phase of big data collection in the form of contact tracing, do you think blockchain will be able to protect your information? Let me know at or tweet me @blockchainblawg.


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