U.S. agency's COVID-19 report cites blockchain as tool for resolving logistics issues during crises

A U.S. agency focused on information technology and cybersecurity published a wide-ranging report on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic — including one way in which blockchain could help resolve logistics problems.

The report — entitled "Building A More Resilient ICT Supply Chain: Lessons Learned During the COVID-19 Pandemic" — was published by a working group established to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still ongoing in the U.S. and abroad. The report, published on November 6, aimed to "understand and document impacts to organization’s supply chains due to the pandemic" according to an agency statement

One area focuses on ways in which supply chains disrupted by the pandemic or similar crises can be restored. 

As the report notes (emphasis ours):

"During the pandemic, almost every mode of transportation in impacted areas was affected. To reduce the impacts of transportation and logistics issues, ICT companies can engage in scenario planning for different types of events and map out the alternatives that can allow for the supply chain to be restored as efficiently as possible. To further assist in these efforts, companies can utilize technology platforms that provide realtime, blockchain visibility into available logistics capacity. Companies can also study logistics patterns to help identify alternative providers for each key route."

To be sure, the report doesn't offer specifics on which platforms might apply. But it does offer an indication of how new technologies are being factored into discussions about post-pandemic preparations and the ways in which they can potentially resolve logistical problems that arise.

Though not directly related, a Congressional bill emerged in the spring that sought to apply a blockchain-centric solution to tracking the supplies held by the Strategic National Stockpile. The core argument of the bill is that the pandemic led to significant reductions in supplies across the country, and that greater visibility would have enabled a more effective response.

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