Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2023


AMENDMENT Global Open Source Quality Assurance of Emergency Supplies

COVID-19 birthed a movement to use open source to address crises through rapid distributed manufacture of medical supplies and emergency equipment. However, even in drastic crises, labeling, tracking, quality assurance and authenticity is required. The Global Open Source Quality Assurance System (GOSQAS) proposes to solve this with an open provenance tracking system that will track the maker’s mark, self-asserted and 3rd-party quality tests, and changes in custody accessible with a QR code.

About a dozen nonprofits have formed an alliance to promote quality assurance for open source (free-design) devices and supplies. Open source emergency devices and medical supplies can be rapidly manufactured with distributed systems, such as hobbyists with 3D printers. This can quickly repair supply chains broken by war or natural disaster. However, the normal reputational and legal mechanisms for ensuring quality and authenticity don’t function well in such crises.

The open source solution to this is to be as transparent as possible. In the case of physical devices, this means that a would-be buyer of the device should be able to easily look up: when, where, how, and by whom it was made, what quality assurance tests have been performed on it, maintenance performed, etc. By maintaining the complete chain-of-custody, counterfeiting can be effectively mitigated.

Eventually, encryption will allow provenances to be kept appropriately private. This proposed system does not compete with other tracking systems, but can be used to complement them on a purely voluntary basis. Eventually, people will demand full and transparent provenances for many devices.

In this talk we discuss the movement, the problems, and the proposed approach.

Please note that this talk was originally scheduled to be given at 09.40 but have been postponed to give room for the talk Covid Exposure Notification Out in the Open to be longer to cover for cancellations of other talks just before the schedule freeze.


Robert Read