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Blockchain System For Human Rights Preservation

January 30, 2019


Earlier this month IBM announced two projects working to reduce the potential for human rights violations regarding laborers in the mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now highlighting the ever-growing potential of blockchain technology, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is working with ConsenSys and New America to design a platform that brings the benefits to humans directly.


Supply chain management is one of the most directly applicable industries for blockchain technology. The networks perfectly integrate other emerging tech like AI and IoT to create much more efficient systems for transportation, along with integrated payment processes. However, rather than stopping there, a group of researchers and students at Harvard thought there was still more potential.


Health and Well-Being Index + Ethereum

Fueled by a grant from the American government, the the three groups are focusing on alleviating potential human rights violations of factory workers in Mexico. They will pilot a system for tracking and assessing “well being” of the laborers in a clothing manufacturing plant through this year and 2020. The funding from the government, Levi Strauss Foundation and Consensys for the pilot totalled $800,000, and is only made possible by the work done at Harvard before hand to develop the Well-Being Index.


The Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Health creates a universal benchmark for assessing workforce well-being and the conditions. The system provides a workforce-wide view of factory conditions and individual health and well-being. This deep rooted information is an important first step to effectively improving the overall labor system in large factories.


This data comes together as an index that businesses have already been used in in factories around the world, including Levi Strauss & Co. since 2015. Nearly 5,000 workers are employed at their Mexico location, and have all taken the survey. With this new collaboration the ability of the data to move toward actionable improvements should strongly increase. The pilot program is already planned for a two year extension after 2020.


“For the last 25 years, work in supply chains has been monitored mainly by audits. We know from research and serious traumatic events that this system alone is not effective. A distributed system of inquiry on the blockchain that goes right to the source [workers] offers a new solution. Most supply chain blockchain use cases are for material tracking, so leveraging this new technology for the evaluation of the human condition is an exciting innovation with broad potential for positive impact on worker well-being worldwide” - Dr. Eileen McNeely, Director of SHINE at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health



By: BGN Editorial Staff

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