The NHS in the UK has decided to forgo designs by Google and Apple on tracking coronavirus, choosing to use a centralized app instead.
Developers have created a number of apps in helping people combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some apps list symptoms and offer the latest statistics, but others are more ambitious. The NHS in the UK is launching an app for contact-tracing individuals who have contracted coronavirus. However, the agency is going in a different direction than that suggested by Apple and Google.
Centralized Coronavirus Tracking
The app released by the NHS is for the iPhone, and it will alert users when they come into proximity with people who have been infected with COVID-19. The NHS says the app works “sufficiently well” on the iPhone, and it does not require the app to be active or on-screen to function. Even better is that the app does not have a major impact on the iPhone’s battery life.
When a person uses the app and registers themselves to be infected with COVID-19, alerts are automatically sent out to people they have had contact with. This is achieved by using the mobile device’s tracking features.
Apple and Google suggested an app that is decentralized in order to protect the privacy of users. However, the NHS decided to go with using a centralized database on its own server. It should be noted that any alerts sent out do not identify the person who caused the alert in the first place.
The NHS believes that using a centralized database will allow the agency to better track the spread of COVID-19 cases. Professor Christophe Fraser, an epidemiologist advising the NHSX, the digital innovation unit for the NHS, says, “One of the advantages is that it’s easier to audit the system and adapt it more quickly as scientific evidence accumulates. The principal aim is to give notifications to people who are most at risk of having got infected, and not to people who are much lower risk. It’s probably easier to do that with a centralized system.”
COVID-19 in the UK
The UK is currently under lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson instituted the restrictions late last month. People are only allowed to leave their homes in order to shop for basic necessities, get one form of exercise per day, work in a vital industry, and for medical services.
There has been a total of 165,221 reported cases of coronavirus in the UK with 26,097 deaths. Such numbers mean the UK ranks fifth in the world when it comes to reported cases and third when it comes to deaths. (It should be noted that most experts agree that the numbers given by the Chinese government are not accurate.)
Images courtesy of Pixabay.
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Just One Client Dominates Ethereum 2.0 Testnet
The ethereum 2.0 Medalla testnet has five node clients, but just one of them is being used by the vast majority of nodes. Despite a week long network crash in…
The ethereum 2.0 Medalla testnet has five node clients, but just one of them is being used by the vast majority of nodes.
Despite a week long network crash in August due to a small bug in Prysm, that client is still being used by some 60% of the network.
That’s way more than enough to take the whole thing down as knocking off only 33% of the nodes is sufficient to prevent ethereum 2.0 from finalizing.
Once the network can not finalize, it effectively stops working, something that would cause chaos in a live ethereum network that holds some $11 billion in defi.
The second most popular client is Lighthouse with just 36 nodes out of 155, making it 23% according to our own research based on eth2stats.
If this client goes down there could be problems, but not fully critical problems like were anything to be exploited in Prysm.
Teku has 15 nodes out of 155, less than 10%, with Nimbus at 9 and Lodestar at just 2.
It’s not clear why Teku and Nimbus are not finding much use, but in this testnet we have a Pareto distribution between dominating Prysm and way behind Lighthouse, with then the rest even more behind in network share.
It’s not clear whether there’s anything that can be done about this as if it replicates in the live network, then there would be significant problems temporarily if Prysm nodes are DDoS-ed for example.
These open networks are somewhat easy to DDoS and there’s so many ways to do it, you can’t fully protect from it but you can minimize or even avoid it in bitcoin by not having open connections on your node.
In ethereum 2.0 there’s probably minimization strategies as well, but Prysm nodes are currently nearly twice the amount required to take down the network. Just half of them would be close to enough.
Prysm is working on a method to quickly export your validation to another client, but it’s not too clear whether that is something that can easily be done.
Nor is it too clear whether node operators can effectively be persuaded to maintain a less than 30% share per client.
Market Analysis Report (01 Oct 2020)
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New in Chainlink: More DeFi Price Feeds, Gitcoin Support, Novel Integrations, & More
Follow decentralized oracle project Chainlink even casually? Then you know its builders and community move fast and stay busy, so keeping up with all the happenings around the Chainlink ecosystem is no small feat.
No worries, though: in today’s post we’ll catch you right up by breaking down Chainlink’s biggest highlights from the past two weeks. First up, let’s talk the project’s bread and butter, i.e. price feeds.
New Price Feeds
Chainlink’s oracles help smarten up on-chain smart contracts by serving as reliable bridges by which they can access off-chain data. The most dominant of Chainlink’s “bridges” today are its price feeds, which serve decentralized finance (DeFi) apps with accurate, real-time price info.
Accordingly, Chainlink’s growing ranks of price feeds have already proven extremely useful around DeFi, and the project’s adding more feeds all the while. Recent significant additions include:
Aave’s LEND, yEarn’s YFI, and Ethereum’s rising tokenized bitcoin projects are some of the most popular tokens in Ethereum’s DeFi sector, so these new Chainlink price feeds will surely see no shortage of use in the months ahead and beyond.
New L1 & L2 Integrations
Ultimately, Chainlink is blockchain agnostic. It’s rise has largely been built atop Ethereum, but it’s capable of providing decentralized oracle networks for layer-one smart contract platforms in general. Chainlink’s recent advances in L1 integrations include work with projects like Blockstack and Reef.
Indeed, on Wednesday, September 30th, decentralized apps network project Blockstack announced it was working with the Chainlink team to “integrate Chainlink as the preferred oracle solution” for Blockstack’s Clarity smart contract language.
“Given our familiarity with and knowledge of Chainlink’s impressive team and technology, we are confident that this partnership and resulting Chainlink oracles will advance our shared ecosystem,” Blockstack co-founder Muneeb Ali said on the news.
Moreover, Reef, a cross-chain smart asset management platform built on Polkadot, also just revealed it was integrating Chainlink’s price feeds to access DeFi pricings “denominated in both ETH and DOT.”
The decentralized oracle project has also been involved with notable layer-two scaling forays lately. For example, synthetic assets protocol Synthetix, which relies on Chainlink’s oracles, is now live on the L2 Optimistic Ethereum Testnet. Additionally, L2 scaling platform Matic Network is presently working on integrating Chainlink’s tech into its mainnet.
More Gaming Integrations
Beyond Chainlink’s flagship oracle tech, the Chainlink VRF solution — which helps products generate verifiably random results on-chain — has become a hit in the blossoming blockchain gaming arena.
Just this week, Aave’s up-and-coming Aavegotchi NFT game project announced its mechanics would “make full use of Chainlink VRF,” adding:
“Each Aavegotchi summoned needs to be randomly generated with a massive variety of intrinsic qualities, including visual traits, wearables, and collaterals. These unique Aavegotchi are then able to again engage Chainlink VRF for many of our mini-games and AavegotchiDAO experiences.”
Another NFT gaming project that’s going all-in on Chainlink is Planetarium, which revealed on Tuesday, September 29th, that it was integrating Chainlink’s tech to “power cross-game Metaverse communication, in-game commodity pricing, and secure trading of in-game items.”
Gitcoin Grants is a respected ecosystem project that provides matching funds (therefore boosting grassroots donations) to open-source projects building around Ethereum. And now Chainlink’s pitching in to help the funding.
That’s per an announcement last week that the project would be providing an influx of funding to help support the ongoing Gitcoin Grants 7 campaign.
Earlier this month, Chainlink also revealed it was giving a grant to blockchain infrastructure project SimplyVC. The purpose of the funding is to help the firm “build its PANIC monitoring and alerting system for the Chainlink Network so it can be leveraged by Chainlink Nodes.”
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