Supply Chain, Blockchain, & Evolving Paradigms of Pandemic Magnitude

PPE, Ventilators, government aid for citizens, and even scientific research on COVID-19 developments — it has never been more important to efficiently deliver product, services, and data to one another. Yet, when we needed our corporations & governing bodies to act most swiftly, people were instead faced with confusion, distrust, and delay. Through the Pandemic, the exposure of fundamental lapses in our current global Supply Chain infrastructure has casted light on the importance of Decentralization, and the Technologies that can move us into this new future. 

When people were first told to stay at home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, an initial response of many was to head to grocery stores to gather essentials to bunker at home. However, a stark reality for a number of people was the sight of empty shelves and a lack of everyday toiletries and resources. While it’s easy to blame a father who bought one too many bundles of toilet paper for his family, it’s important to realize the greater issue at play — an unclear idea for people on what inventory is going to be available at a particular time, and an overall sense of fear that our Supply Chains won’t be able to mobilize and gather the resources that we’ll need when demanded. The many complex intricacies of our current Supply Chain can be simplified down to two key factors – trust & efficiency. 

Building transparency and trust between people and their governing agencies has never been more at the forefront of priority when re-shaping the systems that we operate within. Centralized entities have become increasingly bureaucratic – exposing new security and regulatory concerns, as well as the need for a transparent ledger of truth. Decentralized technologies allow every user to have transparency into the process, people, and products that make a certain Supply Chain Cycle possible, which in turn reduces the friction and distrust we’re seeing today globally between nations & communities. This shared access of data leads to more efficient, optimized decision making – especially in times when it matters the most. Whether it to be to connect a hospital with the care and equipment it needs on an urgent notice  –  or to expedite the transfer of emergency resources and vaccines to the people who need it the most – it is vital that those in charge understand how they can increase the throughput of a Supply Chain to optimize efficiency. How many planes should carry what inventory to which location and when? How many people in a particular vaccine study have recovered versus trials conducted across varying regions globally? The time has come for us to replace antiquated technologies and processes with ones that will allow us to scale and address logistical questions like these from a source of decentralized transparency, rather than from biased or siloed data sources. 

Blockchain technology spearheads this decentralization movement, and provides the ledger for global communities to regain control of data and governance. As we look forward to a new era of digital transparency, the first step is integration between current centralized systems and the decentralized technologies of the future. This type of movement will bring the infrastructure of today into the future in a phased approach – which is the most realistic and manageable approach from a global adoption perspective. Compared to hoping for a revolutionary, sweeping change overnight, it is important to understand the reality of how rigid our current supply chain infrastructure is, and realize the first to step to change is through integration. Projects like OPEN move us towards this future, as they intend to integrate decentralization into current software infrastructure. OPEN uses Scaffolds and Decentralized Ownership to connect with centralized systems. These connections can range anywhere from payment processing to ownership of assets. Through advocating for decentralized methodologies and processes, OPEN & the larger Blockchain community are putting power and transparency back in the hands of the people who are restrained to the limitations and inefficiencies of the current centralized system they may be confined to. 

As our communities move past this pandemic and further towards decentralization – the next step will be Interoperability. At that point, we will no longer only be discussing how decentralized technologies integrate within our centralized systems. But rather, how disparate blockchain systems and networks can communicate with each other in a fully interoperable ecosystem. Building out this technological capability is vital for us to be better prepared for the future. If there were to be another pandemic, we hope our societies will have built out interoperable blockchain networks, specifically delineated for Healthcare and Supply Chain to better encourage the transparent dissemination of data and allocation of resources. We at OPEN envision a future of decentralization and interoperability, and look forward to sharing developments of our OPEN State, where we’ll push that vision into reality.

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