Decentralized digital identity to verify COVID-19 results
In April of this year, with the global pandemic impacting the lives of every person on the planet, I found my learnings from my Fides Health research applicable to verifying test results. In a society where fake data is worse than no data, I assumed that there was a need for an unbiased system to verify test results. So I participated in the first MIT COVID-19 Challenge to collaborate broadly to find a solution.
During the 48 hours, together with an international team of experts, we pivoted Fides Health to create ImmunePass, a verification system for virus test results, through a decentralized network.. Safely encrypted, open-source, and verified on blockchain; we aimed to bring society back together, after many months spent apart. The hackathon team selected ImmunePass as one of the top ideas in our track. But my goal to bring an a-like system to the public did not stop there.
After the hackathon, we participated in various competitions. Along this process, I learned that having a digital emblem saying you are negative or positive, will raise many privacy and ethical issues. I decided to leave the prototype to research the issues. During this research, I was invited by the Dutch government to participate in a national tender for the Dutch contact-tracing application. I proposed to integrate an open-source solution like SafePaths. This led to being connected to the team, led by Ramesh Raskar from the MIT Media Lab, where I participated in the early days of the project on design and internationalisation level.
Timeline and context
There will be a time where we need to return to society, get back to work and help each other. This can only happen if we are immune together. Currently, medical researchers are developing various methods to test immunity. We focussed on what is coming after.
The MIT COVID19 Challenge
In April 2020, MIT called like-minded people all around the globe together to tackle problems in healthcare during the pandemic crisis. Over 1500 talents collaborated in a virtual hackathon to create ideas, becoming reality.
Global interdisciplinary team
Quickly, after pitching the initial idea, we formed a diverse team together with Haley McClure (San Diego, CA, USA - Healthcare Manager), Joe Lissner (St. Louis, MI, USA - Fullstack Developer), Christopher Ng-Fletcher (Ontario, Canada - MBA) and, David McMahon (London, UK - Sustainable Finance). This dream team was the foundation to our solution.
Discussing technicalities during a 3-minute virtual pitch among 120 participants, seemed excessive for us and therefore we focussed on our narrative. How can ImmunePass help you? With limited resources, we created the story of Lucy — also known as one of the first human ever found on earth and therefor our key persona. Sit back and enjoy our -sleep-deprived- pitch:
Kraak De Crisis
After the hackathon, ImmunePass got nominated for the Dutch competition Kraak de Crisis. Among many innovative solutions, we pitched our idea yet did not make the cut. But, what was most valuable, were the connections and feedback we got during the event. Eventually we got connected with the national team behind the national contact-tracing application for input.
During the competition we suggested running a local omni-channel campaign to get people onboard with ImmunePass