Open Source is Saving Lives in COVID-19 Pandemic

Techies were ridiculed for sounding the alarm, and now they continue to step up with freely accessible, urgently needed supplies.

Hello Defiers! Today’s post dives into how open source and blockchain technology are contributing in the fight against COVID-19, where governments and other centralized institutions are failing.

📢 Help me scale up The Defiant team by donating to my Gitcoin Grant or recommending that friends do. Just 1 Dai goes a long way :) 


Techies Are Heroes in Coronavirus Pandemic and Open Source is Their Weapon

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the faults of centralized institutions, from how government regulation has limited widely available testing, to misinformation about proper prevention, to authorities violating people’s privacy in their effort to gather information about the spread of the virus.

The tech industry has really stepped up in this crisis, with venture investors and Silicon Valley companies warning about the gravity of the situation early on, even as presidents and health care officials minimized the threat.

Reputable news organizations mocked those sounding the alarm and worse, spread misinformation on the best way to protect against the virus, for example, by saying that face masks don’t help and that it’s fine for healthy people to go out into crowds. To those reporters’ credit, they were only citing (incorrect) information from official government entities.

Open Source Saves Lives

Engineers, developers and tinkerers aren’t only warning about coronavirus, they’re also doing something about it.

Manufacturers of medical gear such as face masks and ventilators haven’t been able to keep up with skyrocketing demand, so universities and private companies have stepped up to fill the void. Open source has been key in these initiatives, as it has made designs behind urgently needed medical equipment freely available to anyone who wants to help ramp up production. These efforts help both increase supply of life-saving materials, and also drastically reduce costs, from tens of thousands of dollars for one ventilator, to about a hundred bucks.

Blockchain Question

The success of projects using blockchain technology to aid in the crisis has yet to be seen as most are in the very early stages of implementation. These projects have focused on using distributed ledgers to improve how information on the virus is gathered and shared. The premise for these initiatives is that users can upload their location and infection status into a distributed ledger which anyone can access, can’t be modified, and where any other personal data can remain private. That way, infection hotspots can be detected and anyone would be able to see if they were recently near someone who has tested positive.

There’s value in having a system that’s not controlled by any government or company to be compiling this information. But it seems like these efforts would take large network effects, and many to be imputing their information to be effective.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the main open source and blockchain focused efforts to fight COVID-19.

Open Source Projects

  • Isinnova Emergency Ventilators

Italian 3D printing company Isinnova is making emergency ventilator masks, key in treating COVID-19 patients to help ease their breathing before they reach the critical stage, where they need full-blown ventilators. After a local hospital reached out to the start-up for help in making these masks, which were in short supply, Isinnova contacted Decathlon with the idea to repurpose the company’s snorkeling masks. Decathlon provided the CAD drawing of the mask, and a new component was then designed to connect with to the ventilator. “We called the link Charlotte valve, and we quickly printed it using 3D printing,” Isinnova says in its website.

Image source: Isinnova website

The hospital successfully tested the device on a patient, but it hasn’t been officially certified. While not strictly under an open source license, Isinnova patented the link valve so that it will be used for free by anyone who needs it.

“We decided to urgently patent the link valve (Charlotte Valve), to prevent any speculation on the price of the component. We clarify that the patent will remain free to use, because it is in our intention that all hospitals in need could use it if necessary.”

  • Prusa Face Shields

Prague-based 3D-printing company Prusa developed and started producing plastic face shielding masks, which are key for medical staff to protect themselves when treating COVID-19 patients. They have printed and donated over 12,000 shields to medics and other professionals in the Czech Republic and we have requests for 90,000 more, according to their website. Their design is open source so anyone with a 3D printer can start making face shields.

“But the shortage is global […] This is why the design of the shields is fully open-source, anyone can produce it and/or modify it. Also, the shields are made from easily accessible and inexpensive materials.”

Image source: Prusa website

[ DeFi / 3D Printers Intersection ]

Julien Bouteloup of Staked Capital is one of the eager 3D printer owners who started producing Isinnova and Prusa masks. He’s rallied a community and has helped organize production and distribution through Telegram and Twitter. He is raising money through Gitcoin and is using the funds to make sure producers can buy supplies and ship their products. He’s also using the money raised to incentivize builders to make modifications to the open source designs that he has posted on GitHub, making sure the masks design is as good as it can be, he said in an interview.

Julien Bouteloup @bneiluj
Join my livestream of printing the easy-covid19 ventilator Charlotte: 📽️
twitch.tv/bneilujeth 82% finished. Batch of 10 to be shipped to an hospital in North of France on Wednesday. More information about the mask here github.com/bneiluj/covid-… and isinnova.it/easy-covid19-e…T
  • UW Face Shields

Similar to the Isinnova masks, face shields produced by the University of Wisconsin-Madison were born out of an urgent request from a hospital. Lennon Rodgers, director of the Engineering Design Innovation Lab at the university, got an urgent request to make 1,000 face shields as the hospital’s usual suppliers were out of stock, Wired reported. Rodgers made a prototype using Home Depot materials and uploaded the open source design to the university’s website so that others could contribute to production. The group has sent more than 1,000 face shields to the UW Hospital and Ford expects to produce more than 75,000.

  • MIT Ventilators

A decade ago, MIT students wrote an academic paper on how to build ventilators, or machines that help patients continue breathing, which cost around $30,000, for about $100 worth of parts. The team linked to that course has now formed the MIT E-Vent project and is working on bringing the ideas on their paper to life. The group plans to release its designs “in an open-source fashion,” the website says, “with the intent to provide those with the ability to make or manufacture ventilators, the tools needed to do so in a manner that seeks to ensure patient safety.”

Blockchain Projects

  • Engima Database

Enigma, a decentralized protocol enabling computations on encrypted data, is building a privacy-preserving database and analytics platform called SafeTrace. “This service enables users to safely and privately share location data and their infection status. The objective of this tool is to help track social infection vectors,” according to Enigma’s website. The team says SafeTrace is being developed in response to “intrusive tactics for data collection” to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, in countries such as China, South Korea and Israel. The project is open source under the MIT license. We are bringing our expertise to build a privacy-preserving database that can be used by all. However, there are a lot of areas where we still need help.

  • MiPasa Data hub

IBM, Oracle and the World Health Organization (WHO) are among the group of entities behind MiPasa, a system which enables individuals, state authorities and health institutions to privately share information aimed at detecting COVID-19 carriers and infection hotspots. The solution was built on enterprise blockchain Hyperledger Fabric.

  • Victory Soap

A project called Victory Soap is partnering with handmade soap makers across the US to fulfill orders and help get soap in people’s hands, as the website says. They’re selling soap through an Origin Protocol storefront, accepting ETH and DAI, and forwarding proceeds to The Giving Block's campaign.

“Victory Soap is a grassroots experiment in "dCommerce" decentralizing production as close to the customer as possible helping solve for "the last mile" problem.”

  • My Covid Risk

Wibson, a decentralized data marketplace, developed My COVID Risk, a platform which uses AI to determine users’ risk of contagion depending on their Google location data.

  • Algorand

Algorand is distributing a survey with the goal of building a database to determine how COVID-19 is affecting people in real time. Responses will be publicly posted on the Algorand blockchain to guarantee free and permanent access to anyone. 

  • Other blockchain-focused ideas.

ConsenSys’s Travis Blane shared some original ideas for how blockchain can be useful, which don’t have to do with databases or data gathering, but rather with how to stay social and entertained in isolation, and how to help small business hit by the slowdown in activity.


The Defiant is a daily newsletter focusing on decentralized finance, a new financial system that’s being built on top of open blockchains. The space is evolving at breakneck speed and revolutionizing tech and money. Sign up to learn more and keep up on the latest, most interesting developments. Subscribers get full access at $10/month or $100/year, while free signups get only part of the content.

Click here to pay with DAI.There’s a limited amount of OG Memberships at 70 Dai per annual subscription ($100/yr normal price).

About the author: I’m Camila Russo, a financial journalist writing a book on Ethereum with Harper Collins. (Pre-order The Infinite Machine here). I was previously at Bloomberg News in New York, Madrid and Buenos Aires covering markets. I’ve extensively covered crypto and finance, and now I’m diving into DeFi, the intersection of the two.

Traders Return to DeFi After Market Crash With MakerDAO Driving Rebound

Also, Celsius to use Chainlink, MakerDAO votes to shutdown Dai, deep fake Vitalik sings Pink Floyd song.

Hello Defiers! Here’s what’s going on in DeFi:

  • Users coming back to DeFi after meltdown

  • Celsius to use Chainlink oracles in decentralization push

  • MakerDAO votes on whether to shut down Single Collateral Dai

  • Interest-gaining-based system to reward creators spurs deep fake video of Vitalik

And more :)

📢 Help me scale up The Defiant team by donating to my Gitcoin Grant or recommending that friends do. Just 1 Dai goes a long way :) 


Trust in a Trustless Financial System is Returning

Assets held in decentralized finance are ticking up for the first time since the market meltdown two weeks ago with ETH locked in DeFi gaining 18% in the past seven days to 2.8 million, according to DeFi Pulse. That’s still down from the record of 3.2 million on Jan. 28.

Image source: DeFi Pulse

With ether held in DeFi platforms climbing, total value locked in the ecosystem rose almost 10% in the past week to about $590 million. A recovering ETH price is also helping total value locked climb.

Users had pulled their digital assets from DeFi platforms as ether plunged more than 40% in one week and MakerDAO’s liquidation system broke down on March 12 on what came to be known as its “Black Thursday.” Users pulling assets from the system and ETH price plunging caused value locked to slide to as low as $487 million on March 22 from a record $1 billion.

Recovery Led by MakerDAO

The biggest contributor to the increase in value locked is MakerDAO, as ETH in the platform rose by 130k ETH, or 6%, in the past seven days to 2.2 million ETH, a sign that 0.5% cost to borrow Dai with ETH collateral is luring users back in.

After Maker, smaller projects by value locked, Aave and Uniswap, were the biggest contributors in the recovery in terms of amount of assets added. ETH in the other two DeFi heavy wrights, Compound Finance and Synthetix dropped.

Bitcoin in DeFi is flat over the past seven days but jumped 6.5% in the past month. Still, at only 1.9K BTC, it represents a small fraction of total value locked. Dai remained flat at 12.2 million.

Celsius to Use Chainlink Oracles in Decentralization Push

Lending platform Celsius Network plans to use blockchain data company Chainlink’s price feeds to calculate interest payment amounts, according to an emailed press release.

Chainlink, which uses a network of independent nodes to collect data and feed it to applications, is popular in decentralized finance with platforms including Synthetix and Aave using the service to connect smart contracts to the outside world and reduce dependency on centralized parties. Celsius, which has more than $600 million of assets, or roughly the same as all of DeFi, holds custody and centrally manages users’ funds.

With the move to use Chainlink’s oracles, Celsius seeks to offer a more decentralized and transparent service, as the integration “creates a smart contract audit trail of its lending operations,” the press release said.

With the partnership, Chainlink will use Celsius’ treasury management solution for its BTC and ETH cryptocurrencies.

MakerDAO Likely to Shut Down Sai Next Month

The MakerDAO community is participating in a poll on whether to shutdown the Single Collateral Dai system through an executive vote on April 24. So far, 95% of participants have voted to shutdown SCD, with 2% of MKR holders voting.

Image source: vote.makerdao.com

MakerDAO started accepting collateral other than ether to back its Dai stablecoin last year, creating Multi-Collateral Dai. SCD, also known as Sai, is the previous version of the stablecoin, backed only by ether. The Maker Foundation is putting the shutdown for a vote as Dai in circulation has largely overtaken Sai, and as the community weighs the resources needed to manage two credit systems, especially when the Dai system broke down during the market crash two weeks ago.

A shutdown means collateral in the SCD system will be returned to borrowers, who would normally need to pay a so-called stability fee when closing out their debt. The community still needs to decide on whether to tax collateral owners in the Sai system at shutdown, or forgive their stability fees.

Money Printer Meme Spurs Deep Fake Video of Vitalik

The latest installment of Money Printer Go Brrr is a deep fake video of Vitalik Buterin singing Money by Pink Floyd. Highly recommend you watch here.

The “Money Printer Go Brrr” meme has served as comic relief for crypto Twitter’s frustration that central banks are printing billions to stimulate economies ravaged by the coronavirus epidemic, which some argue debase currencies and cause inflation, instead of actually helping those in need.

Beyond the meme, the way the video came about is interesting in itself. It was created by a project called MemePool, which allows users to stake (or deposit) Dai into a smart contract, and the interest generated from the staked Dai goes to support content creators. The community of stakers can vote on which deep fake videos the project will create next, and participants are able to “unstake,” and get all their DAI back.

CoinGecko Launches ‘Earn’ Section, Releases ‘How to DeFi’ Book: The Daily Hodl

CoinGecko’s “How to DeFi” book is targeted at beginners interested to learn more about the fast-growing DeFi ecosystem. CoinGecko Earn is a newly-launched section on CoinGecko providing an overview of the various lending platforms with information on return rates, security audit records, DeFi risk scores, and more.

DeFi Activity Up 294% as Ethereum Dominance Grows: DappRadar

Daily activity across all dapps running on Ethereum was up 104% year-on-year, with DeFi activity up 294%. Activity on TRON rose 8%, while activity on EOS plunged 80%.

Tron Launches Dai Copycat

Tron founder Justin Sun launched a dollar-pegged stablecoin backed by TRX tokens called Djed, in a system that closely resembles MakerDAO’s Dai. Two data dashboards for Djed looks almost exactly like MakerDAO’s portal and Mike McDonald’s mkr.tools.


The Defiant is a daily newsletter focusing on decentralized finance, a new financial system that’s being built on top of open blockchains. The space is evolving at breakneck speed and revolutionizing tech and money. Sign up to learn more and keep up on the latest, most interesting developments. Subscribers get full access at $10/month or $100/year, while free signups get only part of the content.

Click here to pay with DAI.There’s a limited amount of OG Memberships at 70 Dai per annual subscription ($100/yr normal price).

About the author: I’m Camila Russo, a financial journalist writing a book on Ethereum with Harper Collins. (Pre-order The Infinite Machine here). I was previously at Bloomberg News in New York, Madrid and Buenos Aires covering markets. I’ve extensively covered crypto and finance, and now I’m diving into DeFi, the intersection of the two.

Recap: DeFi Week of March 23 🦄

Hello Defiers! Hope everyone’s well and safe.

Summing last week up: This past week was a bit quieter in terms of market swings for crypto and project announcement took the limelight, with MakerDAO handing over control of its MKR token to to token holders, as its auction was well underway to raise enough Dai to heal all of its bad debt. Uniswap released details on its long-awaited V2, while Balancer Labs raised a $3 million seed round to enter the automated market-maker game. Coinbase Wallet integrated DeFi lending platforms to its mobile app, while Uma designed a “priceless” token to reduce oracle risk. This week’s interview was with Ren Project’s CTO Loong Wang, who spoke about plans to bring Bitcoin to DeFi. I wrote about how times of crisis highlight the need for a more decentralized future. And there’re more :)

That was just one week. Subscribe so you get the latest DeFi news and analysis straight to your inbox and you don’t miss a thing. Free-signups get partial content, paid subscribers (only $10/month, $100/year) get everything.

📢 Help me scale up The Defiant team by donating to my Gitcoin Grant or recommending that friends do. Just 1 Dai goes a long way :) Thanks to contributors so far: @cstoraker, @robertpragai, @stone441, @scott-l-e-w-i-s, @nodar, @gliinbox, @ecruz01, @gwintery, @mattnumber, @sneg55, @kaiynne, @mccallj57, @robfifth, @happykennedy, @s-ben, @calebsheridan, @hanzoh1, @cryptobanjo, @cryptostearns, @faridrached, @xibot, @poapxyz, @defidude, @evanvannesseth, @mfinestone, @klongrich, @nocturnalsheet.


Op-ed

Crises Strengthen Case for Decentralized Future

Extreme situations, such as the global pandemic we’re living in, highlight just how much control institutions have over individuals, and how they’ll use it when generalized fear erodes the usual checks and balances. By seeing these actions unfold, some may want to consider a more decentralized alternative.

Interview

Ren is Just Weeks Away From Bringing Bitcoin to DeFi, Says Loong Wang, the Project's CTO

Ren Project CTO Loong Wang, is leading one of the teams at the forefront in the effort to bridge different blockchains, and bring Bitcoin to decentralized finance in a trustless way. Wang says RenVM is only a few weeks away from going live, and once it does, it will strengthen DeFi by adding different types of collateral and boosting liquidity. It will also open up a new investment option, as anyone will be able to run a node on the network and collect fees.

Thursday

Dives

  • Complex Ethereum Transactions on Track to Overtake Simple Transfers: There’s a continually increasing number of transactions that are of the more complex kind. If anyone were to question the utility of Ethereum – simply point them to this chart, Covalent’s Ganesh Swami writes.

  • MakerDAO’s Latest Move is Unthinkable in Traditional Finance: MakerDAO’s Maker Foundation has transferred control of the MKR token to token holders as it seeks to increasingly cede decision-making to the broader community and become a fully self-sustaining decentralized, autonomous organization (DAO).

Sums

  • Uma Designs Priceless Tokens to Minimize Oracle Risk: Uma, a synthetic assets platform,designed a token which doesn’t require price feeds to minimize oracle attack risk.

  • Balancer Labs Raises $3 Million to Launch Programmable Liquidity Platform: Accomplice and Placeholder led the seed round, with participation from CoinFund and Inflection.

  • DeFi Saver Launches Platform for Anyone to Become a MakerDAO Liquidator: DeFi Saver released a MakerDAO collateral auctions dashboard with the goal of making it easier to liquidate underwater loans in the system.

  • Coinbase Putting DeFi Interets on Your Cel Phone: Coinbase Wallet is integrating DeFi lending platforms with its mobile application, making it easier for users to start gaining up to 6% on their deposits.

Bytes

Tuesday

Dives

  • Uniswap Unveils V2 With Flash Swaps, Potential Protocol Fees and Better Price Feeds: Uniswap yesterday announced details of its highly anticipated second iteration, or V2, which it expects to launch in the second quarter, pending a successful formal verification. 

Sums

  • Dharma Announced P2P Payments: Blockchain-based lending platform Dharma on Thursday announced users will be able to make peer-to-peer money transfers on its app.

  • MakerDAO Close to Raising Enough Dai to Heal Bad Deb: MakerDAO has raised 4.3 million Dai at MKR auction, compared with a total 5.6 million of underwater loans the system needs to pay off. 


💜Community Love💜

Thanking all the amazing Defiers for the support and love this week (and always)!

Ryan Sean Adams - rsa.eth @RyanSAdams
source:
researchgate.net/publication/34… h/t @CamiRusso's excellent newsletter!

The Defiant is a daily newsletter focusing on decentralized finance, a new financial system that’s being built on top of open blockchains. The space is evolving at breakneck speed and revolutionizing tech and money. Sign up to learn more and keep up on the latest, most interesting developments. Subscribers get full access at $10/month or $100/year, while free signups get only part of the content.

Click here to pay with DAI.There’s a limited amount of OG Memberships at 70 Dai per annual subscription ($100/yr normal price).

About the author: I’m Camila Russo, a financial journalist writing a book on Ethereum with Harper Collins. (Pre-order The Infinite Machine here). I was previously at Bloomberg News in New York, Madrid and Buenos Aires covering markets. I’ve extensively covered crypto and finance, and now I’m diving into DeFi, the intersection of the two.

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