Harvard, Levi Strauss, Partner To Develop Blockchain Based Factory Safety System
The public health graduate school of Harvard University, New America, the US think tank, and the American apparel firm Levi Strauss & Co announced Thursday a joint venture to build a blockchain-powered system structured to encourage self-reporting by workers thereby boosting auditing of factory health and safety.
Three companies in Mexico that make products for Levi Strauss and employ 5,000 people will be the first in 2019 to utilize the blockchain survey. Blockchain, which first surfaced as the technology underlying Bitcoin, is a common database run by a group of internet-connected computers.
Consensys, based out of New York, will build a blockchain solution for the project. The plan is essentially to place a yearly worker poll on the blockchain in what the respondents called a vital first step in the completely transparent assessment of labor conditions in factories.
The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. State Department.
Tomicah Tillemann, founder of the Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA) at New America in a statement, said “Providing a secure, standardized, auditable, and transparent platform through which worker survey data can be aggregated and analyzed will be possible with this solution.”
The blockchain-based poll will utilize an index built by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University’s public health graduate school.
In an interview with Reuters, Allison Price, BTA executive director, said “What this means is that the results will never be manipulated.”
Dr. Eileen McNeely, director of Harvard T.H. Chan’s Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise said “For the last 25 years, work in supply chains has been monitored mainly by audits.”
McNeely opined that this system alone is not capable.
McNeely said “A distributed system of inquiry on the blockchain that goes right to the source (workers) offers a new solution.”
The venture’s first trial will be commenced in Mexican factories in 2Q19, with another trial scheduled for 2020.