We talked to Syed Abrar Ahmed of Liber Health about its first-of-its-kind digital identity platform and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: I am doing fantastic, thanks! Half of my family is in Australia, which has relatively less COVID cases and it’s a relief for us knowing that they are in a much safer environment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Liber Health.
Syed Abrar Ahmed: I am a Computer Science graduate with over six years of experience in Digital Health.
This company, this entire initiative is a tribute to my brother who passed away from liver cancer. During his treatment, we realized how difficult it is to send health records to and from hospitals. A lot of medical errors were made because of misidentifications and lack of health data. These issues unnecessarily risked his life and led to his early demise. We realized that it’s not just about one person anymore. Hence, the solution now encompasses digital identification and pandemic management for all the citizens and platforms which rely on secure identification and essential data transfer.
During my career, I have received multiple national and international awards for the research and development, including being awarded the outstanding entrepreneur from economies at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 in the Netherlands.
How does Liber Health innovate?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: At Liber Health, we have built the first-of-its-kind digital identity platform powered by blockchain and biometrics which uses a person’s IRIS scans for identification, privacy, health data transfers and even COVID prescreening.
It is a patent-pending technology which uses iris scans for encrypting and decrypting personal information. The only way to access that information is when the person provides biometrics as a form of authorization to the organization.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: We had to do significant pivots when the pandemic hit. Before COVID, we were using fingerprint and facial recognition as primary biometrics for patient identification. But because of the pandemic fingerprint scanners were banned because they risk spreading the contagion due to physical contact and facial recognition also went out of the window because almost everyone started wearing masks.
We then realized that we could use the same technology to provide a safe and contactless attendance and COVID prescreening solution for healthcare staff, frontline workers and other essential industries. It will not only allow businesses and organizations to comply with COVID guidelines but also ensure workforce and consumer wellbeing inside the facilities. We are now manufacturing our low-cost iris and fever detection IoT devices to offer an end-to-end solution to any industry or business.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: We drastically changed our work style from office work to working from home. Initially, the transition was a bit difficult, but we soon realized that there were more benefits for us. We learned that we needed to be agile and be open to adopting new norms and not be stuck with traditional thinking.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, and how do you project yourself and Liber Health in the future?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: I try to stay as active as possible with daily workouts and steady-state cardio. For the past year, I have also taken up meditation and exploring the stoic philosophy for mental fortitude and strength.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: There are many companies which provide biometric identification and authorization as part of their product offerings. But all these solutions are designed to work in data siloes, meaning they can only be deployed for specific organizations individually. These solutions lack the data interoperability, which is now required by the industry in light of the COVID pandemic. By leveraging distributed ledger technology, we have ensured that there is no central authority, there is no single point of failure, and biometric data required for individual authentication is always available for any organization.
We intend to partner with these companies so we can off-load the hardware aspect of our solution and focus primarily on software and interoperability. In future, we will also be leveraging the accumulated data for AI and Data Analytics to empower patients further and ensure safety.
Your final thoughts?
Syed Abrar Ahmed: For the first time in modern history, we have come to realize how ill-equipped we are with handling a pandemic. We need health data interoperability now more than ever, and we need to come together, share our resources to make the world a better place.
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