Well, that escalated quickly. As we catch our breaths with the pace of COVID-19-related disruptions, this post will update frequently with the latest perspectives, support efforts and information from the blockchain community at large. Have something to add? Tweet @CoinDesk with #CoronaEfforts.
SingularityNET and Ocean Protocol, decentralized AI and data economy projects respectively, have pooled resources to support a COVID-19 hackathon initiative.
Decentralized AI Alliance (DAIA), an organization of more than 50 companies, labs, and nonprofits, will host the event, which aims to develop and launch open-source code and tools that can be leveraged by the medical community in their fight against COVID.
The hackathon will continue for eight weeks, and pursue solutions in data privacy, epidemiology and medicine, informational tools, and open innovation, according to a statement.
“By freely sharing data and AI on a global scale, technologists can bring their special talents to bear and get ahead of this menace to defeat it,” Bruce Pon, Ocean Protocol cofounder, said in a statement.
“From aiding with biomedicine and epidemiology to ensuring that data privacy is respected as the pandemic is tracked and studied, to creating democratically-evolving tools for sharing information and helping people cope – the number of ways AI can support in this unprecedented situation is vast,” Ben Goertzel, chairman of DAIA and CEO of SingularityNET, said in a statement.
Prior to launch, more than 100 people have signed on to support the initiative, including members of DAO management platform Aragon, bio-analytics firm Shivom, and p2p blockchain NEM.
Algorand Coronavirus Survey
The Algorand Foundation launched a health survey website to record public health trends during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The site allows infected people to record their experiences anonymously, and will use the Algorand blockchain to protect the data for posterity.
Called the iReport-Covid app, the idea is to “get health data from more sources than just government authorities,” said Hugo Krawczyk, Algorand Foundation researcher.
“We think blockchains are a good way of recording information and it’s accessible if you want to do statistics…if in 10 years you want to research the virus you will have this data available,” he said.
Toilet paper to WHO?
An augmented reality gaming app, Triffic, is set to donate $10,000 to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Usually, the app rewards players in GPS tokens, its native cryptocurrency, for moving about the world and collecting “beacons,” or virtual representations of real-world objects. Now that millions are under lockdown, the gameplay has been modified to spawn beacons – in the form of virtual toilet paper rolls, hand sanitizers, and face-masks – directly in player locations.
For every item collected, Triffic will donate the token’s value to the WHO COVID-19 Response Fund. According to a blogspot, the apps creators have already sold 600,000 GPS for cash, to ensure donations retain a stable value.
Project N95 is a web-based clearinghouse for medical grade equipment.
The platform serves as a medium to connect rapid response teams and hospitals with manufacturers of desperately-needed personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We are working with governments to determine where demand is and where it is most urgent,” reads the Project N95 website. “This is a tool designed to gather data as efficiently as possible to assist in distribution efforts.”
The platform takes in requests directly from hospitals and governments to help aggregate demand, as well as vets equipment manufacturers, to best execute distribution.
They’re also looking for volunteers.
Tor Bair’s Enigma, a data encryption firm, has developed a platform to facilitate privacy-preserving contact tracing for COVID-19.
Called SafeTrace, the platform aims “to help protect public health while also protecting individual privacy,” Bair wrote in an email.
As observed by some nations – like South Korea or Singapore – ability to “flatten the curve,” fighting a pandemic requires reams of data. This comes both from wide-spread testing, as well detailed maps of infected persons movements.
“Some of the measures being used to combat COVID-19, specifically contact tracing, involve significant privacy compromises that pose risks even when participation is voluntary,” Bair said. SafeTrace counters this by providing a secure, open-source backend to upload and encrypt this sensitive personal information.
The platform is loosely based on the existing Enigma protocol. Within a secure enclave, all the reports are collated and compared providing:
1. A “local view,” which is an individual report showing users where and when they’ve overlapped with individuals who have since tested positive
2. A “global view” heat map that can help us better understand and curtail the spread of disease caused by COVID-19.
Bair said they are looking for epidemiologists, health professionals, rust programmers, developers and engineers, and other volunteers to help out. Check here to see if it’s the right project for you.
Ran Neuner’s $10M lifeline
Ran Neuner, CNBC Africa’s “Cryptotrader,” has launched a $10 million fund to assist startups in dire straits due to market disruption.
“As an entrepreneur that has built and exited several businesses, I am aware that some startups may change the world but they need to survive this,” Neuner said in an email. “I know that runways are short and that if we don’t do something , most won’t survive.”
“I want to do my part by raising funds and tapping into our network for entrepreneurs that need some guidance in this time,” he added.
Neuner will also use his connections to “highly successful business people” to provide mentorship during this period of economic turmoil. These free sessions will be conducted via Zoom, as to comply with recommended or mandated “shelter-in-place” statutes.
Partnered with ex managing director of Techstars blockchain Yossi Hasson, Neuner aims to increase his fund’s largesse to between $50 and $100 million. “For now we have invested our own cash and that of high net worth individuals. We are raising more money every day,” Neurner said.
While primarily focused on assisting blockchain or crypto firms, Neuner is also looking for opportunities to support startups in “other exciting industries.”
There are a few specific requirements. “We are not looking for ideas but rather companies that have raised money previously and are burning through it. The companies must be going-concerns and have a monthly burn,” Neuner said.
Perspective: Giacomo Zucco
“Even if I’m theoretically “at the epicenter,” I don’t know of anybody sick with the disease, in my extended social circles, and have not been affected from a health-related point of view personally. But I am heavily affected in day-to-day life.
When this unprecedented and draconian Italian mass-home-detention started, I finally decided to get back and “turn myself in,” in order to stay close to my parents and parents-in-law. Paradoxically, it’s been a happy month with my family. We’re spending a lot of time together with our 2 years old daughter, and there’s been a steep reduction in work-related stress. (More on that later.)
Though a lot of friends and relatives – especially the self-employed ones, and the small entrepreneurs – are now unemployed and without any income. A lot of local enterprises are already financially crippled beyond repair.
The psychological effects of imprisonment are starting to show: We have relatives and friends showing occasional breakdowns.
My professional life has also been impacted negatively. I can’t really monetize remote Bitcoin-related consultancies and workshops as I did with physical ones, and being in a reduced space with a small child I can only really enter remote sessions a few hours every night when there is silence.”
Binance Charity Gives Globally
CZ Changpeng Zhao’s “one tweet” could lead to $1 million in charitable donations.
According to a public announcement, Binance Charity will match $1 donations to retweets of “this post” tagged with #CryptoAgainstCOVID.
The charity will make an upfront donation of $1 million in BUSD, and set up a wallet for other to give. It’s unclear where the money will eventually go, though Binance intends to buy supplies directly and send them to “targeted hospitals in affected countries,” according to a blog post.
“The most important element of human life is to show compassion and help others as we can, without the limitation or restriction of borders. Blockchain technology enables this in greater capacities than ever before and Binance Charity wishes to bring this to the masses,” said Helen Hai, Head of Binance Charity, said in a statement.
Additionally, if there is 1 million retweets within 7 days (originally posted on March 25), the charitable wing of the world’s largest crypto exchange will redouble its donations.
Binance started charitable giving early, having reportedly launched the “Binance for Wuhan” project in Dec. 2019. That effort committed to a donation of $10,000,000 RMB ($1.4 million) worth of supplies, shipped to over 300 hospitals and medical teams in various Chinese cities.
Coinbase Shuts Soon, Gives Early
In early February, Coinbase ordered more than 1,000 N95 masks for its employees, as one of the earliest companies to take a strong stance on the looming coronavirus threat.
This mentality led the firm to close its offices in early March.
“We never got to use [the N95 masks] because we started WFH two weeks ago,” Peter Jihoon Kim, a head of engineering at Coinbase, tweeted. But this wasn’t a tragic waste of personal protective equipment.
MIT Privacy Tracker
Governments need accurate information related to how the virus has been transmitted interpersonally. Many, including China and Israel, have turned to using GPS data collected by their citizens’ mobile phones to identify people who have crossed paths with an infected individual.
These “contact-tracing tools… can also be – and have been – used to expand mass surveillance, limit individual freedoms and expose the most private details about individuals,” write the team behind Private Kit, an open-source, “contact tracing” app.
This team of epidemiologists, engineers, and data scientists – led by MIT Media Lab Professor Ramesh Raskar – built a free, privacy-protecting app that can be used to track the spread of COVID-19, using mobile phones.
Users opt in to sharing their data with healthcare professionals (which also offers a “location trail” based on actual movements, rather than memory). These healthcare workers then redact all personal identifying information and added to a database.
If a Private Kit user has crossed paths with an infected individual, the app will alert them.
Crypto Charity Launch
The Giving Block crypto charity drive launched today.
The #cryptoCOVID19 Alliance will give donations made in crypto to nonprofit partners including
Save the Children, No Kid Hungry, Us4Warriors, among others.
“Today, donating cryptocurrency is not just a way to lower our taxes. It is our chance to protect the people we love, all while telling the new crypto story. To turn sideways glances into admiration. Today we write the first page of our story. Help us squash this bug,” Alex Wilson, The Giving Block CEO, writes in a statement.
Gitcoin, part of ConsenSys, will match up to $110,000 in donations made in ether or DAI, though the charitable drive will also accept donations in bitcoin, litecoin, zcash and other cryptocurrencies.
Gitcoin’s participation is part of its larger grant drive, where $250,000 will be gifted to projects growing the Ethereum community.
This round, a special $100,000 is earmarked for crypto projects addressing public health, specifically, “all COVID-19 related projects focused on research, response, and recovery efforts within communities.”
Pulled together by Scott Moore, technical growth lead at ConsenSys’s Gitcoin, the project is a twin to The Giving Block’s larger charity drive.
“We’re hopeful that with this infrastructure, although it’s just the crypto community’s small contribution, we can help many of these public health projects get at least $10K [sic] to use immediately towards their efforts,” Vivek Singh, chief operating officer at Gitcoin, blogged.
“If you don’t have the means to donate, we encourage you to share the hashtag #cryptocovid19 across your feeds!”
Messari, a crypto data aggregator, added a new resource to keep track of coronavirus statistics.
This curated feed, called COVID-19 Tracker, collects information related to the virus’s progression and regression in all 50 states, several territories, and the Grand Princess cruise ship.
“I’ve been monitoring the coronavirus since Feb 1,” Messari founder Ryan Selkis wrote in a blog unveiling the data source. “I am not a doctor/expert, but have been ahead of many of them on this.”
The webpage also provides curated links from news and government sites, as well as excerpts taken from Selkis’s daily newsletter, Unqualified Opinions.
Earlier today, Selkis alerted the crypto community that he has been “shadow banned,” or temporarily restricted from Twitter.
”I believe it’s from our COVID-19 coverage, and we’re now being limited as if we’d been reporting on this like ZeroHedge,” Selkis said, referring to the newsource blocked from Twitter in February.
JSTOR opens the door
JSTOR, the not-for-profit online hub for academic research, has made selections of its holdings public.
Usually hidden by a severe paywall, the database has turned over 6,000 ebooks and over 150 journals for public use.
In a statement on its website, JSTOR said the move is taken to assist “students have been displaced due to COVID-19.” The resources will remain available until the end of June, and may grow to include more than 20,000 books for institutions that do not participate in an existing book program.
Prior to taking his own life, internet activist Aaron Swartz used JSTOR to download and republish 5 million academic journal articles through MIT’s computer network. Swartz was later charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
“The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations,” Swartz wrote in the 2008 Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.
A couple living in upstate New York is contributing 300 face shields to the state’s coronavirus efforts.
Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe, owners and operators of 3D printing firm Budmen Industries, are able to produce these protective masks in mass quantities, all from their basement.
According to local news site Syracuse.com, the couple designed the shields after learning the county would open a coronavirus testing site.
With hundreds more shields on the way, Budmen said, “We’re really not looking to make money off the county in this crisis. We’re just sort of looking to get through it as fast as we can.”
Virtual viewing rooms
The art world has gone virtual. As the spread of the coronavirus forces museums to close indefinitely, a number have taken their galleries online.
Art Basel, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Pace are among the many that now offer virtual viewing rooms, according to the New York Times. Art Basel alone has uploaded 2,000 masterpieces, worth some $270 million.
Digital galleries “feel personal, they feel intimate,” Jeff Koons, pop artist, told the Times. “I love looking at images. I can be just as happy to look at an image of a Manet painting online. It’s really about the stimulation that a work has for you.”
NanoHack is an open-source respirator that leverages distributed manufacturing and 3D printing to ease the demand shock in medical-grade face masks.
The idea is to create a reusable, recyclable and form-fitting mask by mass printing components to be assembled at home. The company alleges the “copper nanocomposite” material is antimicrobial.
It’s unclear if the masks are currently in production, or which decentralized distribution channels are in use. NanoHack did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Covid, Code, Challenges
IBM will expand its developer competition aiming to solve the world’s most pressing issues – from climate change to crisis communications – through code, to include COVID-19.
The “Call for Code Global Challenge” offers winners $200,000 in cash, reports Venture Beat.
“We are working with some of the world’s leading experts to define the most pressing needs and provide the most helpful resources,” IBM said in a statement. “Together, we have the power to use the latest technology in ways that make an immediate and lasting humanitarian impact in local communities and across the globe. Thank you for answering the call in this unprecedented time in our history.”
Orchid wants journos using VPN
Orchid, the decentralized VPN provider, is courting journalists as China and other countries use the coronavirus crisis to expel members of the press.
“We are making Orchid available for free to all journalists in order to ensure they are able to access and transmit accurate information, no matter where in the world they are,” the company wrote in a Friday blog post shared with CoinDesk in advance. “If you are a journalist, email email@example.com with the name of your publication and proof of your status, to get set up and receive a personal onboarding.“
The token-powered privacy project raised roughly $48 million from a slew of big-name backers including Andreessen Horowitz, Blockchain Capital, Polychain Capital and Sequoia. The network and its OXT token launched in December.
Orchid sees the coronavirus-induced shift to remote work as an opportunity to attract new customers.
“This is the first time many people around the world will be working remotely on a regular basis,” the company wrote. “We know that Internet privacy tools can be crucial for workers in sensitive industries and/or geographies, and we understand that the need to work remotely for an extended period is likely to cause significant disruption.”
As such, the company says it will prioritize its desktop app in the months ahead as people log onto their laptops to work from home.
Have you ever wondered how DAOs could be deployed to beat the pandemic? Well, Collab19 has your answer.
“By creating a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) people from all over the world can come together to fight COV-19,” according to Collab19’s website, where philanthropic individuals are instructed to buy the DAO’s tokens “to help the DAO decide which charities to donate to!”
Like other decentralized autonomous financial bodies, Collab19 is governed by token-economics. Of 1,400 C19 (the native token on the platform) tokens created, the DAO will keep half. The rest will be put on a Uniswap pool.
On a weekly basis the DAO will cash out 100 tokens to be purchased on Uniswap, and then used to vote on how to spend the remaining DAO treasury on charitable efforts.
“Most charities don’t know how to deal with crypto so we are thinking of using a trusted facilitator to handle crypto to fiat conversion,” James Young, cofounder of Abridged, wrote in a Telegram channel.
Young is also working on another DAO using MolochV1, where users can pool their DAI, and the interest will be used to fund covid19 tests, he said. “[I’m] calling it “testTogether.” Will launch next week.”
Hive of epidemiologists
No, the loudest blue check on Twitter is not an epidemiologist. While social media has become a go-to source for information during these confusing times, it’s becoming evident that some people are speaking out of hand.
Hive, a group of “crypto-minded researchers, engineers, designers” and fans of the space that scores and ranks trustworthy social accounts has developed another algorithm to map the actual epidemiologists to follow.
Hive.one epidemiologists ranks 100 accounts that can speak authoritatively on the crisis, during this moment where it seems like no one is in charge.
Hackaday.io is a website for people to collaborate on hardware development.
During the coronavirus crisis, a number of open-source campaigns have started, seeking ways to build anything from solar-powered battery packs to positive air pressure respirator (PAPR) devices.
Mike Rigsby even as a tool that prevents people from touching their face. His project, “Don’t Touch Face,” activates a buzzer when you lift your arm “to let you know that your hand is causing trouble.”
Researching and developing vaccines in the 21st century requires an incredible amount of computational power.
Developers at LiquidApps have stepped up with a potential solution for underpowered labs. Called CoVax, this app will harness the spare processing power of personal computers around the world to assist vaccine research.
“Processing power is essential for computational-heavy tasks involved in vaccine research, and many labs with which we have been in contact have highlighted their need for more processing power,” Beni Hakak, CEO of LiquidApps, said over Telegram.
Learn more here about how your idle GPUs can be put to work modeling the molecular structure of Covid-19 and better understand how it infects humans.
Homemade hand sanitizer
The rush to stock up ahead of a potential quarantine has emptied groceries and pharmacies of hand sanitizers. But, thankfully, you can make your own.
A Popular Science article breaks down the steps in a how-to guide:
Taking one cup of 91 percent isopropyl alcohol, half a cup of aloe vera gel and 15 drops of tea tree oil and stirring can yield a pretty effective hand sanitizer solution, according to the blog.
The World Health Organization recommends a similarly easy solution, though it yields a massive quantity. The agency writes, in a 10-litre (2.6 gallon) glass or plastic bottle mix 8333 ml of 96 percent ethanol, 417 ml of hydrogen peroxide, and 145 ml glycerol.
At least one Crypto Twitter fixture has tried the solution, and is now offering bottles to anyone in need.
DIY ‘ventilator-ish’ devices
There aren’t enough ventilators to cope with the coronavirus, reports the New York Times. In this time of critical shortage, a number of do-it-yourself solutions have sprung up to meet demand.
One, an open-source project hosted on GitHub, provides instructions for a “low-cost open-source ventilator-ish device.”
“This rudimentary design could provide a target breathing rate, and a positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP). It cannot guarantee a specific tidal volume, and doesn’t regulate specific fractional oxygen (FiO2),” the project leads, write (not wholly reassuringly).
Similarly, a group MIT students built a “disaster zone” ventilator for $100 in spare parts.
While CoinDesk cannot in good faith recommend this as a solution, this could be an interesting project for the technically-inclined to while away the idle quarantine hours.
Meanwhile, Panvent, a blogspot website, has a detailed list of personal protective equipment (PPE) that people can use to prevent the spread of disease – ranging from the CDC recommended n95 mask to a full-faced positive air pressure respirator (PAPR) – alongside their own workaround solutions.
Grant Gulovsen of Gulovsen Law Office and Rafael Yakobi of The Crypto Lawyers have teamed up to offer free 20-minute legal consultations to members of the crypto community. The sessions will be conducted via online video conference.
“Rafael Yakobi and I understand there’s a lot of friction and distrust of lawyers in the crypto community and thought this might be a way to break through some of that. Given the social distancing that everyone is being forced to perform as a result of the current health crisis, having these consultations online obviously made the most sense,” Gulovsen said in an email.
Gulovsen said he and Yakobi work almost exclusively with individuals and startups innovating in the crypto and blockchain space, helping them with regulatory compliance as well as the ins and outs of corporate law.
“It remains to be seen exactly how COVID will impact our client base, although I expect it will have the same sort of impact as it does on anyone trying to launch a startup. We are both adapting and responding to different questions that come up, especially as it relates to more traditional practice areas like employment law,” he said.
The Covid-19 pandemic is disrupting all industries, including the arts. Band tours are being canceled as concert halls are boarded up.
“With such a major revenue stream drying up almost entirely, finding ways to continue supporting artists in the coming months is now an urgent priority for anyone who cares about music and the artists who create it,” Ethan Diamond, co-founder and CEO of Bandcamp, said in a blog.
To help ensure struggling or upstart musicians are able to pay rent, Bandcamp will waive its take of donations and payments made to artists this Friday, Mar. 20. Part of the Web 2.0 revolution, Bandcamp was at the forefront of placing pressure on the once-overpowered arbiters of musical judgment.
“[I]f you’re lucky enough to be in a position to spare some funds, please consider sharing your good fortune by buying music and merchandise directly from artists.”
Sam Altman steps in
Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator and CEO of OpenAI, is looking to fund startups and projects helping with Covid-19.
“[I]t’s basically the one thing I know how to do that can help,” Altman wrote on his blog.
This open call to founders is meant to spur work on ventilator production, therapeutic solutions for the disease, and a new vaccine – “i.e., not doing what the big pharma companies are already doing,” he said.
Altman is renowned in the VC circuit for striking early investments in Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, and the pepper’s staple Soylent.
CoCo Broadcasting Briefs
CoCo Briefs is a decentralized approach to broadcasting, aiming “to empower anyone with an audience to spread positive, helpful, truth-based information – through blogs, videos, social media, and email blasts,” writes John Hargrave, the author of Blockchain for Everyone and CEO of Media Shower, in a company blog.
CoCo provides a template to send actionable and inspiring posts into the ether of the internet, to to battle against the fear and misinformation that coronavirus raises. “The final score will be Humans 20, COVID-19,” Hargrave said.
“We all have an audience, and we all have a voice. Your voice is stronger than you think,” he said.
Perspective: Matthew Graham, CEO, Sino Global Capital
“The COVID-19 quarantine has been the most surreal experience of my entire life. Here in China where I live and work this has been my lived experience for several months now. When the virus first exploded in January, I made the decision to stay in China for family and business reasons. From the extraordinary precautions being taken, it was immediately evident this was an extreme situation. I was staying at a fully booked hotel with a capacity of two hundred rooms. Very quickly the hotel emptied out until only three or four guests remained. Soon the hotel was ordered to close, and I made the decision to self-quarantine.
Like many, if not most in China, I very rapidly realized that this was a time for extreme steps. I ordered a large quantity of masks for family, friends, and clients, paid a neighborhood kid to deliver food, and closed the door.
Only in the last few days has China really started to venture back outside. The country feels like it’s coming back to life step by step, but yet, it’s not quite recognizable. There are thousands of people on the streets, and every single one wears a face mask. Checkpoints for temperature checks are everywhere, and we scan QR codes for big data contact tracing.
Three days ago I went outside. The first time in six weeks.
I feel safe. Safe, but worried for my friends and family back home.”
Following the social buzz
People have been quick to notice how social media has become the de facto source of information since the outbreak of COVID-19. For weeks, the media and governments alike tried to downplay the potential impacts of the virus, to disastrous effect.
That’s why Will Bleakley spun up the Covid-19 Live Display Hub, a real-time stream of COVID-19-related posts on various social platforms. The hub aggregates regional and country-specific content, so readers can stay up-to-date on what’s happening around them.
To decentralize the news gathering process, the Covid-19 Live Display Hub sources information from local media organizations, regional World Health Organization Pages, government agencies, politicians, and other public accounts.
While the official line is to “Stay the F Home,” Drew Hinkes, a crypto attorney with Carlton Fields, ventured outside yesterday to cast a ballot.
“Based on what we’re hearing from scientists and specialists, it is smart to take precautions,” Hinkes said in an email. But still, there are some forms of public engagement that take precedence over public health, namely, the health of our democracy.
“I do feel strongly that as Americans, we should vote while it’s still safe to do so,” he said.
Sky Guo, the founder and CEO of the smart contract platform Cypherium has some thoughts to share about the possibility of a market recovery, following the Covid scare.
The virus has been contained in China, and is now under control in Korea. As long as quarantines and other measurements are adopted in a timely manner, we shouldn’t be afraid of the virus. The crypto markets, like our immune systems, can self-heal and gain strength for future crises.
People in our community are not very worried about the crisis. They’ve been discussing the markets in a very calm and analytical way. People are hoping for a recovery, and for Bitcoin to reach a new all-time high after the halving this year.
DIY Home-Schooling Guide
Jenny Balliet, founder and CEO Lula & Co., a consultancy that advises on blockchain applications among other fields, is curating an ongoing teaching guide for stressed-out parents who’ve never, until the past week’s wave of shutdowns, had to think of home-schooling their kids.
She describes herself as a “diehard Vygotskian” – a reference to the cognitive development theories of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who advocated social learning as a predecessor for cognitive development.
Applying those ideas, Balliet came up with this handbook. The first updates to the guide, she says, will be about oil markets, bitcoin resources, gaming for a cure and writing meta-cognition.
Blockseer Founder’s Nationwide Test Data Site
Test, test, test and test some more. That’s the mantra from pretty much every expert about how communities can get ahead of the coronavirus pandemic and figure out how best to respond and assign scarce resources.
But none of that is good for much if the data on the pandemic is not captured, aggregated and delivered in a reliable way for health professionals, political leaders and ordinary folk to make sense of. This is why an initiative by Danny Yang, founder of block explorer Blockseer, is potentially so important.
The site repeatedly scrapes data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and aggregates them in real-time, creating easy-to-follow charts. It may well be the most up-to-date, most reliable source of official data available. Check it out here: coronavirusapi.com.
Reflections on an Eerily Quiet NYC
Arnold Waldstein is a veteran marketing and business strategist with a passion for environmental solutions and wine. But he’s best known in the crypto community for his interests in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and in pioneering an NFT fundraising model with the “Honu” turtle-cat CryptoKitty, which raised $140,000 for ocean conservation.
Today he dedicated his blog to reflecting on what life in the busiest city in the world has become like in just a few short days.
In doing so, he demonstrated the power of the written word and of storytelling to reach across the void and connect with others – as vital a service as any in this uncertain period of radical social distancing.
Meltem Demirors Shares Her Plan
“Here’s what’s going on,” began the level-headed Meltem Demirors, founder of crypto investment firm CoinShares.
“This is my third crypto bear market and my second financial crisis, and our exec team has seen several macro market cycles and three global re-pricing events, so we are staying calm, analyzing the market, and building for opportunities we believe will we are well-suited to capitalize on in the weeks and months that follow,” she said.
Demirors is focused on communicating and connecting with her team, clients, partners and portfolio companies in this time of uncertainty. In her own words:
1. We’re actively reviewing all of our counter-party exposure, risk exposure, and business continuity plans, and proactively communicating internally and externally. Crypto community has been resilient, our counterparties are doing a great job!
2. Calling all of our portfolio execs on the venture investing side, sharing what we’re hearing, and making sure they’re feeling supported. Helping them secure 12 – 18 months of runway if needed:
3. Publishing fact-based research.
4. Checking in and texting, calling, emailing, and letting people know I’m thinking of them. I’m setting up hangouts to chat, share ideas, and keep the community intact during these difficult times, and joining other people’s webinars and conference calls to hear what they’re thinking about. Also – lots of VR hangouts in bitcoin!
5. Lastly, memes and humor. A little bit of laughter never hurt anyone!
CryptoMondays Goes Virtual Reality
With help from Bits and Tokens, a blockchain media company, and featuring a fireside chat with CoinDesk reporter William Foxley, CryptoMondays was able to avoid the perils of meatspace and convene digitally.
Lou Kerner, the meetup’s organizer said it “was pretty cool, until the trolls came.”
Timothy Mackey, an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, thinks that blockchain can help solve some of the current “choke points” affecting coronavirus patient care.
Forbes reports the professor of health studies has added a blockchain solutions module to his Global Health Policy undergraduate course, which has since gone remote. Mackey believes blockchain is an important tool in helping to spread accurate information about infectious diseases, as well as maintaining healthcare supply chains.
“This is likely just the beginning of a norm of the globalization of infectious disease outbreaks,” Mackey told Forbes. “And we can’t effectively respond without leveraging technology to enable better international cooperation.”
The blockchain author and futurist writes:
Bunkered in Charlestown, MA, overlooking a now-very-quiet Logan Airport, anxiously awaiting my delivering of TP from Amazon which allegedly will be within days not weeks. Heavily working the phones and chat groups to similarly isolated colleagues, some of whom are organizing data analytics syndicates to address COVID-19 related global health data sharing (leveraging work I did for the UN on training crisis response teams from UNOCHA and UNHCR on the use of big data during large-scale humanitarian crises).
An insurance provider in China used a blockchain-based settlement system to offer quick, one-time payments to victims of the coronavirus.
Xiang Hu Bao, an online mutual aid platform, reportedly began paying out (a maximum of) 100,000 yuan ($14,320) claims to some of its 104 million health plan participants.
Ant Financial, the platform’s parent company, has funded the payments.
“Xiang Hu Bao has been able to process claims and make payouts to participants quicker, due to the decentralised, trust-free nature of blockchain technology,” an Ant Financial spokesman told the South China Morning Post.
Headspace, a meditation app startup, announced it will offer free subscriptions for healthcare professionals working in public settings.
At a $70 value, the subscriptions will run until the end of 2020, according to PitchBook, a financial data provider.
The healthcare startup has reportedly seen a doubling of inbound requests from members since Friday, as well as a 100 percent increase in corporate clients looking for ways to improve employee’s mental wellbeing, according to PitchBook.
Vinay Gupta, CEO of Mattereum
The CEO of the Ethereum-based startup writes:
Some people take whatever solution they have knowledge of, be it cryptocash or cleaning products, and try to wedge it in to the crisis. We are against this. It’s important to be clear and realistic about the suitability and capability of one’s technology. That said, we are looking at the situation around the rapid, decentralized mass production of ventilator systems and other medical equipment, and wondering about things like certification of schematics, “as manufactured” parts lists, maintenance records, safety recalls and so on. Mattereum’s core operating principles about product authentication work equally well for fine art as for engineering products, but this is a sobering scenario, and we are being responsible as we look at scenarios.
3D Printing at FabLab
Massimo Temporelli, founder of The FabLab in Milan, used a 3D printer to build a needed component for a breathing apparatus.
According to industry publication 3Dprintingmedia.network, the machine was used to intubate 10 patients over the weekend, possibly saving their lives.
“As the virus inevitably continues to spread worldwide and breaks supply chains, 3D printers – through people’s ingenuity and design abilities – can definitely lend a helping hand. Or valve, or protective gear, or masks, or anything you will need and can’t get from your usual supplier,” David Sher reports.
Mir Liponi, Milan
The bitcoin meetup organizer and entrepreneur writes:
During the first days was almost like normal life during the summer, when many shops and businesses are closed and few people around. Now, it’s different because we basically can’t move from home. The city is like a ghost town. It’s becoming difficult to get food and I’m starting to see the negatives of the situation. I’m kinda reclusive, but this is very extreme… Because it’s not only you, but everyone else who is living like this. Italians are great in keeping company and they are discovering digital ways to connect to each other or just singing from the balconies… So you don’t feel so alone after all. We have to find a new routine, a new way to feel good and connect with the others.
Reuben Yap, project steward at Zcoin, lives in Malaysia, which has recorded a total of 553 COVID-19 cases so far. He said the country is going into lockdown.
His wife works on the frontlines at the Sarawak General Hospital.
“She works in anesthesia and intensive care,” Yap said. “I have an elderly father as well who lives in a house down the road from me and my wife has her own family as well.”
“The impacts are quite severe for my wife and I. This week she’s undergoing hazmat suit training and if she’s required to intubate or be exposed to the patient, she’ll have to be quarantined in the hospital.”
Today, Malaysia banned all foreign travelers from entering the country. “Malaysians can return and self-quarantine. They cannot fly out,” Yap said.
“Essential shops are kept open but private offices, religious places, all societies and everything are closed. There are mad rushes to stock up now but luckily I stocked up earlier.”
Ryan Zurrer ‘Helping to Prevent DeFi From Defaulting’
Amid this period of severe market fluctuations, investor Ryan Zurrer is helping to prevent “DeFi” from defaulting. Zurrer, founder of Dialectic, a Swiss-based crypto-asset firm and former chief commercial officer at the Web3 Foundation, has taken on “very conservative” collateralized debt positions (CDPs) to keep MakerDAO functioning.
MakerDAO nearly collapsed last week after the Ethereum blockchain failed to keep up with investor demand. To this end, Zurrer has also spun up a Keeper bot in anticipation of the potential auction – which could draw in a huge wave of investors, again – later this week.
“For me, MakerDAO is DeFi and one of the most compelling projects on Ethereum, so I will not let it capitulate to a full-on Black Swan event without doing everything in my power to protect it,” Zurrer said.
17-Year-Old Tracks Instances of Coronavirus
Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior from Mercer Island, just outside Seattle, launched a website to track instances of coronavirus in late December. It has since become a vital resource for researchers and the public working to stay safe in questionable times.
Using the most recent figures from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, Schiffmann’s site presents the most up-to-date local, national and global information in an easy to read format. This includes information on the amount of confirmed and recovered cases, and deaths, as well as a Wiki and newsletter to provide basic facts about the virus.
The site has been visited by millions of people.
“The main goal of it was to provide just an easy way to see the straight facts and the data, you know, without having to make a website that was biased or, you know, full of ads or anything like that,” Schiffmann told Democracy Now!
The Giving Block, a crypto charity initiative, is partnering with nonprofit charities to launch a crypto fundraiser this week.
“Government responses are failing. Nonprofits, companies and individuals need to step up,” Giving Block co-founder Alex Wilson said in an email. “Crypto and tech saw it coming first so we’re hoping this community will be particularly supportive.”
All donations go directly to wallets controlled by the nonprofit, and clients have the option of automatically converting their crypto to fiat. Recently, The Giving Block teamed up with Gemini for an International Women’s Day campaign that raised $15,000 (in crypto) in 24 hours.
Gitcoin will match up to $100,000 in donations made in ETH or DAI during the campaign, and Brave will provide free advertisements. More details, including its nonprofit partners, are forthcoming tomorrow.
Xenia von Wedel, COO of Transform Group
The COO of the crypto PR firm writes:
Apart from the financial worries that our economy if going to tank, I actually enjoy the luxury of extra time to do yoga, and I signed up for afternoon CNA training. That way I will be able to volunteer at the local hospital in case there is a need for extra hands. Don’t get me wrong, doing PR for blockchain companies is a great job, but it might be nice to have a positive impact on some people’s lives for a change… However, I hope in a couple of months life will be back to normal.
Helping People Volunteer
New York Cares is hosting digital orientation sessions so volunteers will be ready to participate in their communities once it’s safe again to leave the house.
“Whenever the coronavirus is in our rearview mirror, hopefully, we know that there’s going to be a huge amount of service that we’re going to try to grow and meet,” Gary Bagley, president of the volunteer coordinating agency, told The City.
Distributed Work to Build 3D Models of COVID-19
Folding@Home uses computer simulations to build models of virus proteins, which may assist in the hunt for a vaccine. They could use your help.
Using distributed work from computers around the world, volunteers can contribute their excess CPU or GPU space to help run these modeling experiments.
“These calculations are enormous and every little bit helps! Each simulation you run is like buying a lottery ticket. The more tickets we buy, the better our chances of hitting the jackpot,” the Folding@Home team writes.
To help, you can download the Folding@Home software package, or make a donation to the team.
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