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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

The current situation is showing massive cracks in our society.

Whenever an emergency situation arises, there must be way to enage with our citizens through a communciation mechanism.

In the UK just now, it is “turn on your TV” and see what is happening next, and which is not good advice. The formal communication channel between the public sector and their citizens is almost non-existance, and which shows how little our government have really engaged with citizens. My council, for example, has zero digital interaction, and I must go and hunt down a Web site in order to find out key information.

I, too, received an ad-hoc email from my GP, and the first I’ve ever received, but it says little that has no already been said.

So where are the ways that our emergency services can communicate with us? And how do people identity themselves who are isolating? Who knows? But people have taken it on themselves to post these through letterboxes:

For a 21st Century world, where we should be using digital methods, but it is basically a 19th Century approach.

For me, governments and the public sector should be immediately reaching out to great SMEs, and asking them to build alerting systems which can scale, and create mechanisms for support to be given for those who are vulnerable.

And where are the trackers for those who may be or are infected so that the NHS can keep a track on them? If we build these systems, though, we need to be careful as there are privacy and consent issues, and we need to build them in a way which respect the rights to privacy.

Unfortunately most systems which are available, care little about consent and privacy, so we need innovative companies to integrate crytography to make sure we respect rights, but also are able to use the collected data in a meaningful way. For us, too, we would focus on a self-soverign identity and Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) approach, and then map this to whichever communication method the citizen wanted. A key factor in this model is the role of delegation, too, and where citizens can delegate things to other trusted sources.

And, in fact, it’s all build into Hyperledger. In our research lab, we are building these systems, and would love to collaborate with those interested.

Go on … let’s innovate … and build a more resiliant future.

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. EU Citizen. Auld Reekie native. Old World Breaker. New World Creator.

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