CDC looks to blockchain to manage public health surveillance

Newswire: Oct. 2, 2017.

Dateline: Atlanta.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are experimenting with blockchain technology, to speed the monitoring of infectious diseases, particularly after disasters.

Blockchain could be the answer for the secure sharing and movement of data among multiple federal, state and local agencies, without that process being slowed by multiple privacy requirements and data access policies.

MIT Technology Review reports that Jim Nasr, the chief software architect for the CDC’s Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services, has been working on several proofs of concept that employ blockchain in public health surveillance.

This would speed understanding of a public health issue, such as the spread of hepatitis A — an urgent concern where time is of the essence — or the opiod abuse crisis, where much larger patterns require study and coordination.

CDC is working with IBM, Microsoft and Gem, a provider of enterprise blockchain technology, to develop the data management solution.

Nasr told MIT Technology Review that “it’s still early in the game” and some questions still need answering. THose questions include which agency’s computers maintain the ledger and who should have the permission to read or modify data on it.

Read the full story here.

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