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Friday, 28 August 2020 14:35

Improving the Cannabis Industry With Blockchain

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From the opioid epidemic to the COVID-19 pandemic, such events have intensified the need for complete transparency and trust in supply chains to ensure packaging and products are contaminant free. Now, perhaps more than ever, supply chain partners and customers want details and information about industry practices and products.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and blockchain, which is steadily gaining adoption in other markets, could be the next game-changing technology for the cannabis industry across the country. Proven in mainstream food safety, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and other sectors, blockchain-backed platforms offer benefits for everyone, from breeders with new genetics to consumers shopping dispensary shelves. 

The following are some of the ways blockchain technology could benefit the cannabis industry:

  1. Rapid, real-time traceability and tracking.

Blockchain’s secure technology ensures an accurate, permanent record, but it also allows rapid access to specific details within the large amounts of stored information. With blockchain, businesses can instantly get a specific product’s full history and access present and past locations in the supply chain. In a seed-to-sale tracking system, all cannabis seedlings would be given a unique identifier and registered in a manifest. Plants are tracked through the entire supply chain, allowing regulators to identify cannabis products along with attributes such as seed origin, plant strain, and supply chain transaction history. Plant strain DNA could also be a key attribute tracked through this system. This real-time record keeping aids in preventing diversion with the illegal market, facilitating prosecution of illegal diversion, and enabling rapid product recalls. It would also ensure that medical and recreational cannabis products are kept apart throughout their life-cycle.

  1. Improved efficiency and reduced costs. 

Few people understand how massive the Cannabis industry has become. As lawmakers in the U.S. and Canada are pushing for decriminalization, the industry now employs more than 250,000 people. That’s about five times the amount of U.S. coal miners. Labor remains one of the largest expenses for cannabis businesses, whether they operate cultivation facilities, retail shops or both. Blockchain can streamline time-consuming tracking, reporting and auditing, and eventually reduce the need for staff and oversight related to those functions. 

  1. Product validation and standardization. 

Cannabis has long been identified primarily by street names. Under blockchain-powered programs, genetic cultivar information could be collected, registered, tested and published through the secure, permanent infrastructure blockchain provides.

Growers can protect their IP. Researchers can identify specific genetic and chemical profiles. Medical providers and retailers can be sure they receive consistent products and verify provenance, testing results, patient outcomes and other immutable information.

  1. Consumer confidence. 

Blockchain-powered scannable codes and other technologies can increase transparency and provide end consumers with secure, verified product identification and information to drive confidence and brand loyalty.

Product diversion can be accomplished by inserting illegally grown plants into the regulated distribution system, or selling legally grown plants in an unregulated fashion. With blockchain, distributed ledgers and proof of work algorithms create a transaction system that is secure, irreversible, and auditable; no single party has sufficient power to alter a past transaction record. This limits product’s diversion risk by reducing tampering, and collusion, in the database system. To reduce tampering with the physical assets (plants), plant tags can be linked with producer and retailer metadata such as business name, location, and employee ID. Associating each plant tag with multiple metadata properties would limit illegal transaction of plant tags within the system. 

As noted, there are many issues within the cannabis industry that can be tackled with the help of blockchain technology to make it stronger, safer, and more transparent.

BlockSpaces Solution:

As blockchain technology becomes more pervasive across industries such as cannabis, it is becoming more apparent that systems and processes will involve communication and integration with multiple blockchain networks and technologies. 

BlockSpaces has created a system that is designed to serve as an integrated message bus for blockchain-based applications and their underlying blockchain technologies and platforms while, client-side, hiding the technical complexities associated with integrating the various blockchain networks.

To learn more about BlockSpaces Connect or to set up a time to talk to with team, visit our website.
Wednesday, 19 August 2020 21:07

Strengthening Food Safety With Blockchain Technology

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Food-borne illnesses are a preventable and under-reported public health problem. Each year food-borne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans (approximately 17% of people in the United States) and lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. These illnesses are a burden on public health and contribute significantly to the cost of health care. Food hazards, including germs and chemical contaminants, can enter the food supply at any point from farm to table. Most of these hazards cannot be detected in food when it is purchased or consumed.

A critical part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s mission is safeguarding the human and animal food supply, helping to ensure that food is not contaminated at any point during its journey along the supply chain. 

Maintaining food safety has become unconditional when it comes to food trade and customer  demand.  The  food  put  on the  market  has  to  be  of  good  quality and  safe  for consumption, as well as not be a source of disease and infection. That being said, the food and beverage industry face a host of food safety challenges, ranging from lack of traceability and transparency, to compliance and recall prevention; and e-commerce giants and shifting consumer expectations are challenging the industry to be more agile and transparent than ever before.

Significant growth in the recent number of food safety incidents and recalls, an increase in media scrutiny and evolving regulatory requirements have placed increasing responsibilities on food safety to regain consumer trust by delivering consistently high-quality food across the complex supply chain, while meeting the various regulatory requirements.

When it comes to food traceability, many businesses are stuck in a past where each segment in the food system is responsible for keeping track of food, taking one step forward to identify where the food has gone and one step back to identify the source. And, it’s largely done on paper. Moreover, changes in food production and supply chains are becoming more complex, providing more opportunities for tampering and difficulties in track and trace. Blockchain makes a supply chain more transparent at an all-new level, especially when it comes to food safety.

Blockchain technology allows quick and easy verification of history, location, and status of a particular food product. Farm origination details such as batch numbers, storage temperatures, shipping details, expiry dates, and factory and processing data can be digitally recorded on the blockchain. End-to-end traceability would improve the efficiency of the food supply chain. Data would be digitally entered on a blockchain and hence, everyone with access to the blockchain can access the data. 

As the need for blockchain technology becomes more pervasive across industries such as food and beverage, it is becoming more apparent that systems and processes will involve communication and integration with multiple blockchain networks and technologies. BlockSpaces has created BlockSpaces ConnectTM, a system designed to serve as an integrated message bus for blockchain-based applications and their underlying blockchain technologies and platforms while, client-side, hiding the technical complexities associated with integrating the various blockchain networks.

When you are working to contain a case of Salmonella or other food-borne diseases,  every second counts. Having a secure blockchain record to reference can make it easier not only to recall the exact cases, lots, and batches that are likely to be contaminated, but to also pinpoint the exact source of the incident so that it can be resolved. Blockchain technology is without a doubt a major player for strengthening food safety standards across the United States.

To learn more about BlockSpaces Connect, please visit our website at https://blockspaces.io/platform
Wednesday, 05 August 2020 16:32

Improving Patient Outcomes with Blockchain

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According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in America, taking more than half a million lives each year. One in four Americans- 1,500 lives lost each day. The years of life lost due to premature deaths, the economic burden due to lost productivity, the costs associated with illness and therapy, and the long-term effects of cancer on the quality of life for survivors take a toll at state levels in the United States. With an aging population retiring and moving to Florida, it is not surprising that the state has the second highest cancer burden in the nation and has been Florida’s No. 1 killer since 2011. Additional sobering statistics include the following:

  •  Cancer surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death for Floridians. An average of 100,000 new cancers are diagnosed and reported each year to the statewide cancer registry, the Florida Cancer Data System. 
  • About a third of the most common cancers are due to lifestyles — poor diet, obesity and lack of physical activity, according to the National Cancer Institute. 
  • The 10 common cancers that are most receptive to prevention and early detection include: Breast, cervical, childhood, colorectal, lung, lymphoma, oral and pharyngeal, ovarian, prostate and melanoma of the skin. 
  • The median charge per cancer hospitalization for all cancers in Florida in 2015 was $67,471.  

Rapidly emerging novel treatments in oncology, particularly in advanced disease, mean that more patients are living longer. As such, extending survival while maintaining or improving quality of life is the desired therapeutic outcome. This changing landscape has many implications, including the need for tools that help clinicians, organizations and institutions involved in cancer care collect, evaluate and share outcomes data. However, healthcare information silos can contribute to suboptimal patient care. 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.  

Improving care transitions through integrated care and seamlessly exchanging data through interoperability are essential ingredients for better patient outcomes measurement. As such, BlockSpaces is working with a client to create a secure outcomes data collection tracking system which is built upon a novel blockchain and artificial intelligence stack. The system is sharable among multiple healthcare providers in real time and accessible to interdisciplinary healthcare teams, and provides an immutable, transparent and secure system of record for sensitive healthcare data.

To learn more about the use case  and to schedule time to talk with our team, please visit our website https://blockspaces.io/stors

You can also tune in virtually, on Friday, August 7, 2020, at 10am EST to hear BlockSpaces Co-Founder Rosa Shores discuss how improving patient health outcomes with blockchain technology, also impacts the mental well being of patients with chronic disease, including cancer. This is a digital health conference with a cause! Proceeds from the conference will go towards helping children with cancer in Tampa Bay. 

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. https://www.disruptthebay.org/
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. Our Agtech industry solution 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.

The application 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 our solution, and how blockchain technology is being integrated into business solutions, please visit our website https://blockspaces.io/agtech

If you would like to get involved and support the National Black Farmers Association, visit their website
https://www.nationalblackfarmersassociation.org/ 
Friday, 24 July 2020 12:15

An Open Letter to the BlockSpaces Community

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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!
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BlockSpaces is dedicated to accelerating enterprise blockchain adoption. Combining advisory, technical functionality, and industry focused support with our core platform, BlockSpaces Connect™, we provide business value to an ecosystem of client innovators.


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