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Trace Labs, the OriginTrail core team, receives support from the World Economic Forum to ensure safer buying of COVID-19 protective equipment using blockchain

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed several key issues in the procurement of medical equipment. As the number of suppliers drastically increased, many that had no track record in the sector were attempting to profit at the expense of public budgets and national healthcare systems. Trace Labs – the core developers of blockchain-based OriginTrail protocol – set out to create a decentralized Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository to address these challenges. The project recently received important support from the World Economic Forum (WEF). In the newly released article “This is how blockchain can help fight pandemics”, the WEF describes OriginTrail’s admittance to UpLink, the WEFs crowdsourcing platform for innovations which is run together with COVID-19 Challenge partners like the World Health Organization and the Goldman Sachs Foundation. Trace Labs seeks to deliver this product globally together with their strategic partner, the leading global assurance organization, the British Standards Institution.

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The vast scale of the effects of broken procurement of essential protective equipment was clearly visible in a single Interpol action fighting counterfeit products that spanned over 90 countries. Fraudulent products without proper certification were not only targeting consumers, they were very visibly targeting governmental procurement as well. Moreover, a recent report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) — a consortium of investigative centers, media, and journalists operating in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Central America — showed how substandard protective equipment for COVID-19 is being sold in over a dozen countries, using misleading certificates produced by businesses in the heart of Europe.

“Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, countries across Europe have been inundated with fake, substandard, and unverified personal protective equipment (PPE), endangering the lives of those who use it,” the report stated. Many European countries have been deceived by misleading documentation issued by long-lasting European standards certification businesses. One such example was a company from Italy, which was quick to provide suppliers of non-conformant products with a document that alluded to certain verifications. Post-festum testing of the protective equipment performed in an independent laboratory in Sweden showed that over 50% of masks failed to meet minimum requirements. Additionally, there were also plenty of cases of pure falsification of CE certificates and the copying of logo images of standards certification companies (like BSI) to mislead governments, businesses, and individuals alike.

Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository

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To tackle these challenges, Trace Labs leverages the novel OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph (DKG) — a paradigm-shifting approach to address supply-chain-specific issues based on multiple blockchain networks (Ethereum, xDai, and Polkadot).

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The OriginTrail DKG is already being used in several industries and global organizations, including the British Standards Institution and Supplier Compliance Audit Network (SCAN) which is comprised of some of the largest US importers like Walmart, Target, The Home Depot, and Costco for regulatory assurance and traceability purposes. Querying the OriginTrail DKG enables the finding of all available (connected) information on a particular product or location in a matter of seconds, spanning any number of datasets with any structure originating from different sources, easily verifying data provenance and integrity.

Due to the innovative approach, the Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository was admitted into the UpLink accelerator, which is the World Economic Forum’s crowdsourcing platform for innovations. Trace Labs was able to benefit from numerous events and activities organised by WEF and COVID-19 Challenge partners such as the World Health Organization, Goldman Sachs Foundation, 500 Startups, Top Tier Impact, Impact Africa Network, Village Capital, and the Global Education & Leadership Foundation.

As a first step, a crowdsourcing campaign was held to collect available open data on COVID-19 essential supplies, which resulted in data on over 16,000 essential supplies products being submitted to the repository. Following the successful crowdsourcing campaign, Trace Labs aims to enable procurers to access the data and is already eyeing additional functionalities to bring to market together with the British Standards Institution to continue building global resilience in pandemics.

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