08.03.2016Personal Tech

Making food safer, one oyster at a time

By: Mike Lanman, SVP Enterprise Products and Internet of Things at Verizon

As anyone who’s had an oyster straight from the ocean knows, there’s really no substitute for locally sourced, fresh seafood.

But what happens if you’re not within driving distance of an ocean? Dr. Daniel Ward of Cape Cod’s Ward Aquafarms thinks about that problem every day. His business supplies fresh oysters to restaurants and supermarkets all across the country. His challenge: once the product leaves his custody, he can’t see what happens during the shipping process before his oyster shows up on your plate. If you’ve ever had one, you know that one bad oyster can spoil more than a meal, it can ruin a reputation. For a company that lives and dies by the freshness and quality of its seafood, that’s a big risk to take.

Dan came to our Internet of Things (IoT) team to ask us to develop technology that would allow him to have greater insight into factors like water temperature and chlorophyll levels that could impact the overall quality of his oysters before harvest. He also wanted to track his oysters from the moment they leave Cape Cod all the way to their final destination. We worked with a systems manufacturer, Mobotix AG, to host a sensor-enabled camera on our IoT platform, ThingSpace, so Dan could maintain total quality control at his aquafarm during production. We also incorporated our new IoT application, Intelligent Track & Trace, which allows Dan to monitor the location and the temperature of every oyster bag he ships as it travels across the country and make sure that nothing gets compromised along the way.

For me, our partnership with Ward Aquafarms shows the potential of IoT technology to help small businesses grow. Small businesses employ over 50 percent of the working population and are vital to the long-term growth of the U.S. economy. But while they’re the most likely to benefit from integrating simple technology into their business, they’re also the least likely to have the resources to deploy it. That means it’s incumbent on businesses like Verizon to simplify IoT technology with holistic solutions so it’s usable and affordable for entrepreneurs like Dan Ward. As IoT innovation flourishes, small businesses have powerful tools at their disposal for expanding their markets, improving their distribution channels and growing their businesses.  Communities across the country and around the world will reap the benefits.  

The next time I’m on the Cape, I’m going to order a big plate of oysters and eat them in peace knowing that a meticulous farmer like Dan watched it every step of the way. I hope you’ll do the same and support local businesses across the country.