US Department of Defense Looks at Blockchain for Disaster Support

The U.S. Defense Department has recently seen the “enormous” potential in blockchain technology in providing relief in disaster operations.

Earlier this month, the Troop Support division of the Defense Logistics Agency held a meeting in Philadelphia to explore how blockchain could have given assistance in its efforts in helping Puerto Rico after it was hit by the disaster Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Troop Support’s Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) office led the meeting.

Elijah Londo, the CPI management analyst, said that the “potential is absolutely enormous” through the DLA report of the event. “Talk about blockchain, and you’ll hear experts comparing it to transforming trust or transactions in the same way the internet changed communication,” Londo further said.

At present, the DLA uses centrally managed systems to track logistic processes.

Synchronizing data and ensuring that all tracking is up to date and correct is hard with this current set up. According to the report, the agency could easily track data through blockchain technology and therefore, improving supply chain transaction processes, including management of shipments.

Marko Graham, the deputy director of the DLA’s Construction and Equipment unit, further assured, “This is where I can see where blockchain would have been a big help [in the relief efforts]. Flowing material specifications and tracking data from the manufacturer buying the raw materials to … getting the transportation and getting it on the barges.”

The CPI is looking for different ways in which it can improve its services with the help of U.S. Transportation Command and shipping mogul Maersk. Maersk already partnered with IBM in developing a supply chain management platform through blockchain technology.

“We’re researching the technology. We’re getting as smart as we can about what it is, what industry is saying about it, what the future might look like, how it applies to supply chains and how other industries are using it. We’re doing our due diligence,” Londo said.

U.S. government agencies have been exploring the potential uses of blockchain technology. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security is giving away support of up to $800,000 to startups that can assist in developing blockchain solutions in enhancing the ability to prevent the use of fake documentation.