By: Mark Rakhmilevich, Oracle, and Jonathan Levi, HACERA
The spread of COVID-19 has caused a global health crisis, and researchers and healthcare professionals are searching for answers to combat the spread of the virus. Real-time data about the spread of the virus – and who it impacts – can help us slow its spread and eventually develop a vaccine. To help meet the need for reliable information about the virus, HACERA and Oracle are working together with technology firms and healthcare organizations to deliver reliable information via the recently announced MiPasa platform.
MiPasa is a blockchain-based, distributed data platform launched by HACERA, which simplifies and streamlines the process of sharing and using data from multiple providers, making it accessible to researchers, software developers, and decision-makers worldwide. Finally, healthcare organizations, research institutions, private sector companies, and national and state governments can securely share COVID-19 and related data at scale.
HACERA, an accomplished startup, spent years building identity, security, and interoperability solutions, hybrid cloud solutions, and blockchain networks. Oracle and HACERA first worked together around the Unbounded Network, publicly released in 2018, connecting multiple blockchains and clouds.
When the ongoing global crisis highlighted the need for consolidated data at scale – whether it is about number of cases found, health outcomes, or vaccine trials – Oracle and HACERA teamed up to enhance MiPasa to scale to larger data sets. We did this by using Oracle Blockchain Platform to:
- Dynamically scale the capacity of the blockchain nodes,
- Provide higher resilience and maximum availability by automatically deploying the components across multiple Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Availability Domains,
- Integrating with other blockchain vendors in a multi-cloud blockchain network, and
- Streaming blockchain transactions into relational schema in the Autonomous Data Warehouse for world-class analytics.
It has been said that knowledge is power, and in the current global health crisis, reliable, real-time data about the COVID-19 virus, treatments, and medical supplies is essential for making informed decisions to combat the spread of the virus. To help fill the need for medical data about the virus, HACERA created a data hub based on a multi-cloud/multi-vendor blockchain network. HACERA worked with Oracle as well as other technology firms that are part of MiPasa’s core platform enablers, including IBM, Microsoft, Splunk, and others, in addition to health organizations, universities, and various governments across the globe. The MiPasa platform also benefits from datasets and shared work done by the New York Times and Oxford University, for example.The mission was to create an open data platform which enables multiple parties to collaborate and share information.
The underlying platform is a permissioned blockchain network based on the Unbounded Network, connecting Hyperledger Fabric nodes for versioning and validation of data origins and changes, creating a tamper-evident, single source of reliable data that is securely shared among multiple parties. This multi-party solution helps to tackle the various challenges posed by siloed medical data and global, multi-tier supply chains.
From Get-go to Global MiPasa Launch in Just a Few Weeks
HACERA worked very quickly to build an impressive supportive and collaborative advisory board for MiPasa, and some of the world’s leading technology companies are contributing their best and greatest tools, infrastructure, and products to the effort.
From the drawing board to the early stages of the network design, the HACERA team made sure that MiPasa is architected from the ground up to be a multi-party play. It was paramount to MiPasa that we bring together a large number of data providers and many datasets, as well as a wide variety of data consumers and Machine Learning and AI experts, who also need advanced data analysis tools. Thanks to HACERA’s partner network, HACERA was able to join forces and launch a network of such a scale in such a short time. HACERA ‘came ready’ to the crisis and was able to accommodate the demanding task and the multi-party collaboration needed to make this work. The technology stack HACERA built over the years allowed us to launch MiPasa in just weeks. With the infrastructure in place HACERA quickly focused on assembling a collaborative multidisciplinary supergroup of health professionals and privacy experts, and make the MiPasa available to the world’s biggest hackathons and the global research community.
The Need for MiPasa
MiPasa solves the challenge of bringing together the vast sets of research, insights, and data needed by healthcare professionals, research institutions, and decision-makers in the private sector and various levels of government. As the data is brought together and shared on the blockchain, there are a number of benefits that help to solve some of the unique challenges posed by COVID-19, including:
- Standardization: Providing a standard set of APIs for data sharing
- Reliable data: Combining, standardizing, and cleansing data from multiple providers into a single platform with data traceability
- Single source of truth: Enabling researchers and other data consumers to easily process and analyze rich data sets in a single platform
- Trusted Findings: Fostering accurate, scientific, and quantifiable decision-making based on empirical findings
The applications and utility of this platform are wide-ranging, and are only limited by the imagination of its users. Combining multiple verified data sources in new ways enables researchers to uncover new correlations and develop critical insights. For example, MiPasa makes it very easy to check whether there is a correlation between the temperature ranges across different regions and the average COVID-19 patients recovery time. Similarly, epidemiological signals can be detected that otherwise could not be found using traditional methodologies or single datasets. A few weeks ago there was a hypothesis that the severity of COVID-19 was lower in certain Asian and Eastern European countries due to specific mandatory BCG vaccinations used in the region. Combining previously siloed data can help to quickly check such hypotheses. The MiPasa data platform can also be used to:
- Pinpoint trends for analysis: Characterize health risks based on specific environmental, demographic, occupational, and geographic factors. This data can predict second wave spikes and correlate them to a broad range of local conditions and isolation rules
- Identify best re-opening safety protocols for various industries: Detect efficacy and safety signals of certain procedures being implemented in opening up hotels and other hospitality establishments
- Efficient track and collaborate on clinical trials: Track and correlate results from multiple large-scale vaccine studies currently underway
- Determine infection rates by age: Conduct statistical analysis on SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection rates in different age groups across countries and regions
There is an increasing variety of data sources on the MiPasa platform that are analyzed independently, cross-validated, and used for aggregate comparisons across organizations, countries, and regions. These include structured and unstructured inputs as well as datasets using various languages.
MiPasa can also help healthcare professionals and supply chain managers verify medical supplies and protective equipment before they are purchased. According to recent research from the The Independent, thousands of counterfeit face masks are now coming onto the market, branded with the names of reputable medical supply companies and bearing certification stamps that can deceive buyers about their authenticity. Interpol has estimated that over $14 millions’ worth of fake medical equipment is flooding the market, using the same forgery techniques that counterfeiters have been using to sell and label fake consumer products.
Fake COVID-19 testers have also sprung up charging consumers high prices for taking fake COVID 19 diagnostic tests. Evolving beyond fake testers and fake results, in time there may be scammers trying to sell fake monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based therapeutics desperately sought by a world in crisis. Just as the financial services industry maintains blacklists of prohibited or sanctioned companies, regulators could publish on the MiPasa platform such global blacklists of fake COVID-19 testers, treatments, or PPE providers.
Oracle’s Role in the MiPasa Blockchain
Oracle has made the instances of Oracle Blockchain Platform available to HACERA for the MiPasa project for tracking and analyzing COVID-19 data. Oracle blockchain instances are deployed in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure data centers and are part of the MiPasa network. These instances execute the MiPasa smart contracts and maintain the distributed ledger, validating the data used by the global research community. In addition, Oracle also contributed Autonomous Data Warehouse capabilities where the Oracle Blockchain Platform can asynchronously stream transaction data for access by Oracle Analytics Cloud, which allows MiPasa users to easily create and share dashboards, reports, and powerful visualizations.
There was a lot of inconsistent, often out-of-date data and sometimes misleading reports coming out in the early days of this crisis. When HACERA described the idea behind the MiPasa platform to bring order out of chaos, Oracle was happy to help and provide the Oracle Blockchain Platform nodes needed to scale the blockchain infrastructure. In addition, the connecting MiPasa’s data into Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse enables Oracle Analytics for MiPasa users. From Oracle’s earlier work on cross-cloud interoperability with other members of Hyperledger, and our previous work on the Unbounded Network, we knew we could work with HACERA to help interconnect a blockchain network that runs seamlessly across different clouds and continents. HACERA’s tooling on top of the blockchain network opens it up to a broad range of data providers, researchers, and decision makers using sophisticated AI/ML tools, like Jupyter notebooks and dynamic visualizations. Oracle is excited to be a part of MiPasa and we hope that the data sharing and scientific collaboration it enables contributes to and hastens the victory in the fight against this devastating pandemic.
MiPasa Goals for COVID-19 Response
As the data is brought together, standardized, and distributed using blockchain technology, there are a number of objectives focused on solving some of the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- Enabling trusted sourcing and sharing of verified healthcare-related datasets from multiple global sources for streamlined access by the growing number of research teams around the world.
- Providing the infrastructure for privacy-preserving digital mechanisms that enable anonymous sharing of information without leaking personally identifiable information (PII). This allows test-sites, healthcare facilities, and other care providers to report their data without fear or favor, knowing that their privacy will be protected by sophisticated privacy mechanisms.
- Using the data to build a global reporting system to track the spread of the virus. Using this reporting system, it may be possible to pinpoint new hot spots and help individuals determine if they have been close to those potentially exposed. Better tracking of the movement of the virus enables better preventive measures.
- Providing analysis and trends of global impact based on the data shared by all the sources.
- Verifying legitimate medical tests, therapeutics, vaccines, and authentic medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, while using blacklisting to weed out the fakes.
How You Can Participate and Contribute
Sharing data via the MiPasa platform enables better understanding of how to effectively respond to the crisis and, eventually, how to defeat the virus by sharing information on a global blockchain. Members of the MiPasa project include technology companies HACERA, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft, as well as data providers such as the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, The European Center for Disease and Prevention Control, John Hopkins, China CDC, and the Hong Kong Department of Health. Health ministries from many countries contribute data for research and analysis at an unprecedented scale. Researchers and health organizations are invited to join the MiPasa ecosystem to bring together the knowledge and data sources needed to help find the answers to help solve the COVID-19 pandemic. You can participate in the following ways:
- Data: You can share healthcare or other relevant datasets by reporting a data source that could be added to MiPasa platform.
- Research: Researchers who want to use MiPasa to work with the data can review data, code, or Jupyter notebooks, which are created and shared on MiPasa.
- Commercial Integration: Companies or individuals who are interested can integrate data or alerts from the MiPasa data hub. They can share and use models and insights provided by the platform – to inform their decision making process.
To follow the MiPasa journey, sign up for MiPasa’s mailing list to receive updates on the project.