Economic growth: inclusive, green, no-cost.

Crisis response

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Pandemics. Unrest. Floods. Fires. Terrorism. Quakes. Financial shocks. An economy with POEMs (Public Official E-Markets) would be better equipped to bounce back from devastation.




Immediate relief

Any public agency could turn to POEMs’ suite of trading tools during an emergency. Its trove of data built up about a user is under each person or organization’s direct control. If they want to release their verified details to be matched with government aid, they need only tick a box for POEMs to locate and transfer any funds for which they are eligible.

Legislation enabling POEMs could compel operators to maintain system capacity for an emergency surge in usage at any time. A turnkey operation is poised when a crisis is declared. Compare that possibility to current public infrastructure readiness revealed by the Covid crisis:

  • When UI (Unemployment Insurance) claims spiked in March 2020, multiple systems run by US states crashed, forcing some users to spend hours even days, re-entering details.
  • Puerto Ricans had to wait weeks for federal stimulus checks as government IT systems failed under load.
  • Support paid out under America’s CARES act had to be set at a one-size-fits-all $600 a week. Systems handling the transfers cannot cope with granularity.

Does the private sector deliver more emergency-ready infrastructure? The problem here is not antiquated systems, it’s often operators putting their own needs first, or running lean with no spare capacity:

  • After the 2008 crash, some banks used bailout funds to pay bonuses and make acquisitions.
  • US retail behemoths committed to rapidly expanding public virus testing in mid-March 2020. by early June only 4% of their stores offered the service. How much better might America’s individual pharmacists have done in markets that assembled all resources they needed?
  • Financial institutions held back $10bn in fees for dispersing government’s small business loans in the US.

There have been heroic attempts to sidestep these failings. Two friends created the Greater Los Angeles Hospital Registry, a volunteer-run website on which medical facilities appeal for protective gear for staff. But real responsiveness to emergencies probably requires state-of-the-art, universal, economic infrastructure already in wide use.


Pre-emption rights

POEMs is built around small transactions. It verifies counterparties, screens for fraud, ensures completion and aggregates hour-by-hour purchases of labor or rental of resources into large, but precisely tailored, packages. That core competency allows it to pull together precise supply chains for needs of a crisis. And any qualified seller can enter those chains in seconds.

Enabling legislation might mandate the right of elected officials to pre-empt market activity when a state-of-emergency is declared. So, if fires rage, a Governor’s staff may immediately start renting pumps, hoses, water tanks and protective gear. Delivery, arrival scheduling, payment, and auditing is automatically arranged.

An ad-hoc, but easily monitored, supply chain could be converging on the afflicted area within minutes of the declaration. Simultaneously, security staff, childcare professionals, social workers and volunteer firefighters, could be mobilized and transported. These resources might be pulled from existing transactions simply because government pays more or has legal pre-emption rights over non-vital bookings. Or pre-emption could be reliant on voluntary acceptance of an over-ride in an emergency.

Either way, POEMs would allow emergency services to set up templates of anticipated needs for foreseeable disasters. One click then starts – for example – all the buying/scheduling listed for wildfires in a given location above. And the template can deliver a constant real-time dashboard of availability/costs of resources that would be needed if fires broke out today.


Adaptive resources

Suppose the Mayor of Minneapolis decided to instigate a Community Security Taskforce when credibility of his Police crashed. He might decide the force was to come exclusively from deprived areas and each person must have confirmed experience in the military, security or community service, plus some reliability in public-facing bookings.

POEMs might instantly identify 2,000 Minneapolitans meeting these criteria. An offer of paid training, and possible work thereafter, could be pinging into their Opportunity Feeds in minutes. Meanwhile, the system’s Verified Voting functionality might be harnessed to profiles of candidates for a supervisory board, perhaps with 48 hours for their election. Once trained,  wardens could be deployed hour-by-hour in line with need, each having their own portfolio of other economic activity. Community leaders each book wardens as needed within their budget.

There would be political, fiscal and inter-organizational issues. But when leaders are ready to act decisively, POEMs could make their schemes immediate, accountable, and ultra low-overhead. With the old administrative machinery for this sort of initiative no longer required, it can be short term; a fast response to events. The Mayor might decree the new force will only run for three months, with commitment to a formal review thereafter. But if citizens want to then extend, or replace, it; POEMs will be ready.

This precision use of resources would contrast with – for example – Britain’s mass hiring of contact tracers with many then reporting no work for them to do. Or the same government’s inability to deploy thousands of community volunteers. Anyone needing to suddenly engage; caregivers, Social Distancing Ambassadors, counsellors or other positions, can set their requirements in terms of track record, see numbers of eligible workers, schedule induction sessions, then buy hours as needed. Assuming online inductions, a pool  could go from zero to hundreds of pre-screened, ready to go, workers in an hour or so.

Hidden resources can come effortlessly into these supply chains. POEMs would allow shuttered businesses that use face masks (veterinary surgeries, beauty parlors, cosmetic surgeons) to re-sell their stocks immediately to frontline hospitals. POEMs can prioritize each business for re-supply later. Owners of fumigation equipment, crowd barriers, portable toilets, mobile lighting and other kit could immediately realize its rental value in a crisis.


Adaptive regulation

Each POEMs user can scan detailed contours of their local evolving economy. That might show sale of pre-cooked meals booming. What’s being paid? What culinary styles aren’t currently on offer locally? Anyone who wants to try cooking meals as a sideline while furloughed can enter the market instantly, possibly sourcing ingredients through POEMs only as orders are confirmed. The market for to-order meals, of course, interfaces into the market in which anyone can sell as a deliverer.

A regulatory nightmare? POEMs’ regulation can be as precise as its markets. Authorities may decide, as a trial, anyone can sell up to 10 meals a day displaying a “not certified” badge on POEMs. If their home enterprise takes off, they will need a food hygiene inspection. POEMs has a market for those qualified individuals, each of whom may also do dozens of other types-of-work. The cooking enthusiast can schedule certification, perhaps by video call, at any time. This kind of tapered regulation can be administered, audited and – importantly – changed in real time. So, if a pilot reveals unacceptable food safety, sellers are alerted, and rules tightened overnight.

Underpinning regulation; policymakers gain a deluge of data on their emergency economy. How far are food deliveries traveling? What’s the turnover of childcare workers? What does a map of average hourly rates paid for premises disinfection reveal?

This datastream is public, anonymized but otherwise completely granular, and real time. There are no issues around public trust in the statistics informing policy. Anyone can interrogate POEMs’ data for themselves to understand changing regulatory decisions.



A well-used POEMs would do a lot to forestall shocks. It makes low-level early interventions uniquely easy to arrange and analyze. Home health visitors. Fire patrols. Youth workers with antennae for brewing issues. Checks on levee integrity. All become bookable at community level. Evacuations, enforcement of short-term local lockdowns and stabilizing financial interventions can be implemented at lowest possible cost.

And POEMs fosters on-going relationships, rather than the constant turnover of staff that is so profitable for private platforms. In a deep market carehomes will find it easier to identify a small number of staff they want to use recurringly. Supply chains become atomized and adaptable rather than rigidly hyper-specialized around the business focus of dominant corporates and fragile to any shock.

POEMs’ key attributes – ease of market entry, detailed data, deep markets, official interfacing, low-charges, accountability – would enable a very localized, segmented, approach to lockdowns and permitted business activities. Attracting tourists for example may require officially verified deep cleans, only workers with an immunity certificate, daily health checks, quarantined travel facilities, all providers of accommodation trained in pandemic-era customer service and restricted customer numbers to win public confidence. It’s all many times easier to arrange, and constantly prove, with POEMs.


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