The COVID-19 crisis has revealed weak points in the procurement of medical equipment. As the number of suppliers went up quickly, many that had no track record in the sector were attempting to profit at the expense of public budgets and national healthcare systems. No reliable system that would allow buyers of medical supplies to verify supplier profiles is available to date. Many manual verifications are needed, rendering the purchase processes highly prone to errors. To tackle these issues, the Trace Alliance will leverage the OriginTrail Decentralized Network (ODN) to build a decentralized Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository (tCESR) for global information about essential supplies for COVID-19 emergencies. With this single-source-of-truth repository built on the ODN, governments, businesses, and individuals will be able to seamlessly access relevant information about a particular product essential to fighting COVID-19 outbreaks. Open data will be collected with a crowdsourcing campaign and made freely available on the network to be accessed by anyone.
The Scope of the Problem
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 have been very visible in 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 — shows 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 outright scammed by misleading documentation issued by long-lasting European standards certification businesses. One such company was ECM in Italy, which was quick to provide suppliers of non-conformant products with a document that alluded to certain verifications. As the consortium of investigative reporters unveiled, essential supplies with such misleading documentation were found in at least four European countries and, in the case of Lithuania, in as many as 19 separate contracts. 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. Of course, 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.
OriginTrail’s Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository
To tackle these challenges, we will utilize the OriginTrail Decentralized Knowledge Graph (DKG) — a paradigm-shifting approach to address supply-chain-specific issues supported by the OriginTrail Decentralized Network (ODN). Querying the OriginTrail DKG enables the finding of all available (connected) information on a particular supply chain object in a matter of seconds, spanning any number of datasets with any structure originating from different sources, while easily verifying data provenance and integrity.
Trace Alliance will leverage ODN to build a decentralized repository for global information about essential supplies, taking the already available WHO dataset as the starting framework. With the trusted repository, a single-source-of-truth is being established for governments, businesses, and individuals where they will be able to seamlessly access relevant information about specific equipment. As data will be collected through a crowdsourcing campaign, the resulting information will be made available on the network.
How to Get Involved
To populate the trusted repository, Trace Alliance is now calling for experienced data scientists and analysts to contribute to a “data crowdsourcing” campaign. A limited number of participants will be whitelisted to assist in collecting critical data (on medical equipment like appropriate respirators, ventilators, PPE, and other items) required to give decision-makers (governments, hospitals, and NGOs) enough information to help them make timely and informed purchasing decisions and avoid fake product offerings from uncertified suppliers. Participants in the crowdsourcing campaign will be compensated in $TRAC tokens in amounts proportional to the quality of the structured data they provide.
More information about the project will be available over the course of the next few weeks. The first important milestone will be on July 30, which is when the whitelisting process will be launched. A limited number of data analysts will be accepted to contribute datasets. On that date, Trace Alliance will hold a webinar and a Q&A session to explain the project’s approach in greater detail. To secure your spot at the webinar, head to this form and join the campaign. This way, you will also make sure to get notified about the webinar on time.
What is expected of participants:
- Discovering relevant open data sets for essential supplies based on the WHO Essential Supplies Equipment List;
- Extracting open data and structuring open data sets according to provided data models (GS1 EPCIS, GS1 CBV, and W3C Verifiable Credentials); and
- Understanding of knowledge graphs and blockchain technology and experience in appropriate data science and analysis tools.
OriginTrail’s Trusted COVID-19 Essential Supplies Repository enables public institutions and businesses to:
- Shorten the response time for retrieving product information;
- Optimize their procurement using verified data; and
- Introduce greater transparency and trust in the procurement process.
Join us on the campaign, get involved, and let us improve the resilience of the global supply chains for essential equipment together.
- July 30: Webinar day, launch day of the whitelisting for data analysts
- August 24: Onboarding day, step-by-step data contribution process introduction for selected data analysts
- September 2: Launch of nOS-based application for contributing datasets (tentative)
- September 16: Deadline for data contributions (tentative)
- October: Data access/exploring enabled