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Items filtered by date: July 2020

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they actively try to include locally grown foods in their diets, confirmation that the public is embracing farmers markets, community-supported agricultural programs and the "farm-to-table" movement that have all proliferated in the U.S. since the early 2000s. Americans want to know where their food comes from, how it was made and by whom. They want the transparency that is required to know its source. They’re even willing to pay a little more for the confidence that their food purchases help to create jobs and promote local economies; safeguard the environment, protect groundwater and preserve American farmers and farmland; and support proper animal treatment.

Yet, Black farmers are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to supporting our local farmers. About 60 percent of Black farmers operate on land that has been passed down through generations, known as “heirs property.” According to The Atlantic, this practice was largely born out of necessity due to “legal obstacles that made passing title to future generations difficult.” 

Without a clear title to the land, black farmers “have historically been shut out of nearly every USDA program, including disaster assistance,” There are now around 45,000 African American farmers remaining — down from nearly 1 million in 1920. Their acreage has been reduced from 16 million to 2 million, with most of the land loss occurring during the past 70 years. Black farmers make up less than 2 percent of all farmers in the United States and COVID-19 has put small Black owned farms in a state of emergency.

COVID-19 has without a doubt caused a huge impact on our country's farmers and consumers looking to source local food. Coronavirus is the latest in a string of misfortunes that have kept the farm economy down for several years: weather disasters, a trade war and, even before that, commodity prices have been below the cost of production. Another impact is the availability of farmers markets as some local governments have ordered that they be suspended due to social distancing. Many farmers depend on farmers markets for most of their sales if they do not have contracts with large grocers or restaurants  and it is where consumers can contribute to supporting local and getting a sense of knowing where the food on their table is coming from. With restaurant business severely cut, farmers who sell meat and produce directly to restaurants are more dependent on direct-to-consumer sales. For many small farming businesses, having the ability to connect with customers, show their product, and sell directly from farm to table on a regular basis would be an extremely big win not only during the pandemic but integrating it into their everyday way of business. This is where I see blockchain technology coming into play.

Blockchain is being used to record when and where a particular variety of crop was planted, what fertilizers were used, when the crop was harvested, and where it grew. By tracking a product‘s journey from seed to the consumers hands, blockchain can also shed light on the supply management aspect, making it clearer where it was transported to, by whom, and where it will be for sale. Blockchain technology can also help farmers and retailers prove that products claiming to be local, organic or free-range actually are. 

At BlockSpaces, our team has been working on an application that would not only do all the things mentioned above, but would cater specifically to local farmers in whatever city you reside in. Demeter is a full stack application that directly connects farmers to consumers allowing producers to quickly mitigate food waste when unforeseen circumstances affect their yields. Although distributors/packers are equipped to handle these variations, critical supply chain continuity can be disrupted if producers are solely reliant on these intermediaries. Additionally, in the US, there are many food safety and traceability regulations that are often handled by a distributor, and current yields are based on the demand of restaurants, grocery chains, and various other sectors and are not meant to be direct to consumers. This, again, creates reliance on other entities that leads to the inability for producers to be self-sustaining in times of crisis that disrupts these systems.

Demeter connects producers and consumers through a mobile application as a simple user interface that enables producers to directly sell to consumers. This application will have the ability to connect to larger blockchain networks to give farmers the ability to add a fully customizable inventory and food management system.

An app such as this would, without a doubt, make supporting local farms easier both for the farmer and the consumer. The consumer has the opportunity to source locally grown food from their community while understanding that their food purchases helped to create jobs and promote local economies. Consumers would be able to see on a map how many local farms are within their desired radius, what kind of products are available and have the opportunity to move away from solely relying on large grocers for their food. For the farmer, having the ability to have this kind of immediate reach to customers they otherwise wouldn't have the ability to reach is a feature that could keep many small farms alive during the pandemic. The ability to have that community connection while also simutainlously fighting hunger, for example,  in locally designated food deserts, preventing land loss, and promoting racial equality for American farmers would be a win/win situation for all. 

If you would like to learn more about Demeter, and how blockchain technology is being integrated into business solutions, please visit our website https://blockspaces.io/demeter
If you would like to get involved and support the National Black Farmers Association, visit their website https://www.nationalblackfarmersassociation.org/ 
Published in Education
First and foremost, we hope you and all your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented health crisis. We have seen and talked to many of you on our weekly video calls and meetups since March, and to those we have not seen, we do miss you! 

Some of you may have seen the recent announcement about leadership and directional changes BlockSpaces has made in order to address the growing demand for blockchain solutions and integration in business.  Like so many others in this space, we firmly believe that the coming multi-blockchain world will encompass both private and public blockchains and form a “network of networks” with legacy systems. In all our years living in the blockchain world day in and out, we see this as a moment of opportunity that is extremely important and rare in a lifetime.  To best capture this moment, and to continue to best serve this community, as we have since 2013, we have made the decision to discontinue the membership portion of our business model.  This change will only impact you if you are a paying member of BlockSpaces and, therefore, a member of Embarc Collective, and it is effective immediately.  Otherwise, the following will remain completely free as it has for the many years we have been honored to be the blockchain touchpoint for you all:

  • "Sunday Night Community Call" will move to be part of the Wednesday night Blockchain meetup which will continue as it has for the past 7 and half years.  We love seeing you all during this time and look forward to the day we can go back to meeting in person.  Gabe will never do anything else on Wednesday night for probably the rest of his life, that is practically a guarantee!

  • Tuesday at 11am will continue to be our "Start-Up Community Call" on Zoom. This call has been in progress since March and is specifically for startups that are working on active blockchain projects. Most of these startups have Channel Partner agreements with BlockSpaces as we work to integrate their solutions into our enterprise focused work. However, we would love to have you join us if you are in active development. Please send Gabe an email for the link if you would like to attend: gabe@blockspaces.io.

  • We will continue our live events and meetups as soon as it is safe to do so, and we will remain located in Embarc Collective, so please make sure and sign up for our newsletter to stay current on all our activities and news, or join our Discord channel and chat with us anytime.
 
New directions are always both exciting and bittersweet, as we do leave behind some amazing, and often hilariously crazy, memories of our time as a membership based organization.  But we know this door opens so many opportunities for us all and moves blockchain adoption forward in the best way possible, which has always been our goal.  As long as we can continue to be a resource for you, we will be here, and look forward to having you all with us on the journey forward!
Published in News
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 13:19

Blockchain in an Interconnected Viral Age

As a University of South Florida College of Public Health student the last four years, I studied emerging infectious diseases and public health emergencies in large populations. Little did I know, I would be using this knowledge all too quickly as COVID-19 was on the way and would halt life as we know it around the globe. We are now 7 months in from the first diagnosis of infection of the COVID-19 virus in the United States which was confirmed on January 20, 2020. As COVID-19 rampantly spreads across the United States and around the globe, so does the sobering reality that epidemics will become more common with our increasingly connected age.

In our global society, outbreaks of infectious disease can move from a remote village to a major city on the other side of the world in under 36 hours. 

As the world’s population swells, so will the number of outbreaks and the people impacted. The number of outbreaks, like the number of emerging infectious diseases, appears to be increasing with time in the human population both in total number and richness of causal diseases.

We are an increasingly mobile global population, traveling more for both work and pleasure than ever before. In 2018, there were 4.2 billion air transport passenger journeys – compared to 310 million in 1970. This mobility helped propel coronavirus' instantaneous transfer from Wuhan, China to more than 60 countries in just two months and the rapid spread we are seeing within the United States. We are also living closer together, as the global population grows it puts pressure on living space. By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, making it all too easy for infectious disease to spread like wildfire and for entire communities to become infected.

Infectious diseases were named one of the top 10 risks in terms of impact for the next 10 years according to the Global Risks Report. Published in January, the report came with a stark warning: “As existing health risks resurge and new ones emerge, humanity’s past successes in overcoming health challenges are no guarantee of future results.”

These diseases will reshape economies. Economists estimate that, in the coming decades, flu pandemics will cause average annual losses of 0.7% of global GDP – or $570 billion. We have already seen the devastating impact COVID-19 has caused the United States economy, prompting many to make comparisons to The Great Depression in 1929.

Given an increasingly connected society, fighting future epidemics will no longer be the sole responsibility of public health and healthcare experts. Solutions will take cooperation from a range of leaders, both public and private, as well as the help of the general population. With my knowledge of infectious disease from a public health professional point of view, this is where I see blockchain technology as a solution for many of the gaps we are seeing in COVID-19 response and information as well as how this technology can help with future epidemics and pandemics.

Currently, most countries have an infectious disease reporting system in which hospitals and clinics diagnose and report patients to the higher authorities, which in turn report the cases to the final authority. For example, you get tested by your primary care physician, they then report to your counties health department, then they report to the states health department, then they report to the CDC. Whenever there are intermediary processes for the report to pass from the hospital or clinic to the final institution, the reporting time may increase, which can make it extremely difficult to respond promptly to a highly contagious infectious disease. We have seen these kinds of issues with COVID-19 reporting in the United States on a daily basis and this passive reporting method can result in the omission of reports. Furthermore, the use of a central server may inevitably result in greater damage if the system is exposed to a hacking attack during a crisis; thus, making it harder to detect altered data after hacking. If blockchain technology were to be used for infectious disease reporting systems, the data would be automatically reported to the final authority at the same instant that they are stored in the blockchain, without passing through any intermediary processing; this procedure would result in the improvement of the efficiency of data transfer regarding infectious disease outbreaks.

Blockchain could also prevent the spreading of false information regarding infectious disease. False information confuses people and can cause psychological anxiety, economic loss, and make many lose sight of the issue at hand. Storing news and information on a blockchain platform not only prevents its alteration, but also makes it traceable; thus, making it easier to prevent the development and spread of false information. In an age of social media and interconnectedness, the need for secure, accurate information for the masses is of utmost importance for helping to educate the general public.

With an increasing likelihood that we’ll see more epidemics of this scale in the future, I wholeheartedly believe that blockchain technology will be playing a large role in the world’s fight against infectious disease outbreaks. 

For information on blockchain technology and how to integrate blockchain technology into your business, please visit our website to explore our product catalog. We would love the chance to talk to you about your blockchain needs! https://blockspaces.io/ 
Published in Education
In the United States, millions of people are affected by mental illness each year. It’s important to measure how common mental illness is, so we can understand the physical, social, and financial impact it has on individuals and families.

  •   1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  •   1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  •   1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  •   50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
  •   Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 

In 2016, only 41% of the 3.1 million adolescents who experienced depression within the past year received treatment. Although effective treatments exist for many mental disorders, unfortunately, over half of adolescents in the U.S. who need mental health treatment never receive it. Further, compared with whites, growing evidence indicates that Black and racial/ethnic minority adolescents are more vulnerable to undiagnosed mental disorders, but are less likely to have access to mental health services. Over 15 million children and adolescents need psychiatric help, but there are only 8,300 child and adolescent psychiatrist practices in the United States and children and adolescents in rural communities often go their entire life without access to mental health services. 

One of the difficulties in mental health care is diagnosis and patient record access. Physicians cannot simply take blood tests and scans to find the problem. Oftentimes, patients will feel like they need to hide their real symptoms from their doctors because they are ashamed, confused, scared, and anxious, many of which are symptoms brought on by their condition. In many cases, patients, especially children and adolescents, do not know how to communicate effectively about their condition. If there is a proper diagnosis and the patient ends up at a different hospital or clinic, which is oftentimes very common for this age group, and another problem arises, there is poor or no ability for care providers to gain access to different platforms to obtain patient records.

Strategies to improve health care in general, such as improving access to care and improving the quality of care, would do much to eliminate such health care disparities in pediatrics. Patient related outcome measures (PROMs) and improvements depend on the system's ability to share data across clinicians, labs, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other staff, departments, and settings. It seems obvious that when health care providers have access to complete and accurate information, patients receive better medical care, but communication among patient’s healthcare teams is often disjointed and vital connections and collaborations amongst clinicians and data producers are lost under the burden of disenfranchised, siloed, manual, chart-abstracted data collection. In many cases, clinical data is captured on various systems, even within an organization, that are often not well integrated with one another. Problems within IT can also disrupt the delivery of care and increase the likelihood of new, often unforeseen, errors that affect the safety and quality of clinical care and outcomes. A secure quality improvement data collection tracking mechanism, using a novel blockchain and artificial intelligence application, would address the information silos that can contribute to suboptimal patient care. The application, sharable among multiple healthcare providers in real time and accessible to interdisciplinary healthcare teams, could  improve patient care and outcomes, both physical and mental.

If you would like to dive deeper into the topic of blockchain and mental health, please join Rosa Shores, BlockSpaces Co-Founder, for a presentation on August 7, 2020 at Disrupt the Bay on how blockchain technology can be used to give clinicians the ability to not only address information silos that exist across healthcare teams, but how blockchain can also help expose mental health disparities in real time which would reduce errors, improve patient safety,  and support better health outcomes.

About Disrupt the Bay 2020:

Help fight against kids’ cancers by joining Disrupt the Bay 2020! A Digital Tech Conference with a Cause! We have an exciting lineup including John Nosta and Scott Arnold, very prominent healthcare disruptors as our keynote speakers, local chief level executives from the healthcare industry, and multiple healthcare technology startups from Tampa Bay that are leveraging innovative technologies to improve healthcare and other industry services. We hope to see you there! Disrupt The Bay: Home
Published in News


BlockSpaces is a blockchain and distributed ledger focused product development company.  We offer blockchain consulting and education, custom software development, and technical support for enterprise, and community support for our marketplace blockchain applications.
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Tampa, Florida 33602

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