Blockchain Part II: Blockchain Applications

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Previously we answered the question “what is blockchain?” and discussed the use of blockchain in edge computing. But there are many more applications of the technology across the food chain, energy, healthcare and defense.

Food Chain Transparency & Tracking

Ever wonder if the olive oil you use is real olive oil? With blockchain the production of olive oil can be tracked from orchard to crushing mill to filtering factory. Consumers can investigate the history of a bottle of olive oil through a QR code on the label. Such technology could be applied to many different foods to provide consumers transparency.

Many companies have partnered with IBM’s Food Trust blockchain program including Walmart, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Carrefour, Albertsons and Raw Seafoods. In addition to improving the efficiency of tracking goods, Albertsons uses a blockchain to track leafy greens after the 2018 E. coli outbreak. If a batch of goods becomes tainted, the blockchain could be used to more quickly identify where those goods originated and remove them from the supply chain.

Energy Consumption & Trade

Soon, blockchain could drive collaborative smart power grids where consumers can compare prices of local energy suppliers and choose energy sources for their homes. They could even purchase surplus energy from other households. Blockchain technology provides the network to manage such transactions and improve security and legitimacy.

One clean energy nonprofit in Minneapolis uses blockchain to create an online market for buying and selling renewable energy certificates. Blockchain technology allows transactions to be made faster, cuts transaction costs and provides an immutable record. The new system could significantly streamline the buying and selling process compared to traditional trading methods.

A group of oil companies is testing blockchain to automate energy payments to reduce transaction costs and payment disputes. The pilot project hopes to see up to a 25% cost savings and to promote future implementations of blockchain in areas such as equipment tracking, contract execution and commodity trading.

Healthcare Database Management & Pharmaceutical Tracking

Blockchain is being tested to create a healthcare database that is more efficient and less costly than traditional systems. Patients can access and manage their medical data and share those records with hospitals and medical practitioners easily. There is even potential to use blockchain to track everyday health habits, such as exercise, diet and sleep to provide an overall picture of a patient’s health.

A blockchain system is also in development to track pharmaceuticals and streamline the identification of counterfeit, stolen, contaminated or low-quality drugs. The ability to easily track the source of a medication, perform swift recalls and prevent double dispensing has huge benefits for patient safety and operations cost savings.

Defense Security & Disaster Aid

The Department of Defense has been researching the potential use of blockchain for cyber applications, foreign efforts and federal government and infrastructure networks. Recently, the US department of defense issued a contract to build a blockchain system to improve research and development data in areas of security, audit ability and integration. The DOD is also considering blockchain to reduce the costs of disaster aid and improve tracking and visibility of supplies.