US Department of Defense Says That Blockchain Could Improve Disaster Relief

The US Department of Defense has recently issued a report that sheds light on the potential advantages that Blockchain could provide to improve disaster relief efforts.

Despite some still believing that climate change is a hoax, it has been proven time and again that it is indeed, very real. With multiple wildfires ravaging California last month and two deadly tsunamis killing hundreds in Indonesia just this year, it is evident that such natural disasters are getting more frequent, thus putting into question whether they are at all, “natural”.

However, with thousands of people being displaced by each one of these calamities, disaster relief has become a pressing issue across the world right now, with calls to urgently improve upon the existing methods and techniques being used. Here is where Blockchain comes into play, as the report by the US DoD suggests.

The Defense Logistics Agency arm held a two-day meeting in Philadelphia, hosted by the Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) office, looking at how Blockchain could have improved efforts already deemed successful such as the relief effort in Puerto Rico, following hurricane Maria in 2017.

The meeting concluded with the idea that the integration of Blockchain could help speed up the delivery of information and goods and quickly and efficiently map out logistics for the operations between multiple coordinating bodies, such as the Army Engineer Corps, FEMA, Troop Support and Construction and Equipment.

CPI Management Analyst Elijah Londo seemed optimistic about Blockchain’s potential use in the field and said,

“The potential is absolutely enormous. Talk about blockchain, [and] you’ll hear experts comparing it to transforming trust or transactions in the same way the internet changed communication. Other agencies and countries are also looking into this technology.”

The current system is centralized and thus creates a lot of “bottlenecks” in quick trading of information between the working bodies in times of emergency. As a result, the supply chain and logistics become inefficient and fail to deliver accurate and desired results at times, potentially risking lives.

The Deputy Director of the DLA’s Construction and Equipment, Marko Graham explained how the integration of Blockchain would help smoothen out these kinks in the system:

“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.”

Ideas of using Blockchain technology to improve the efficiency of existing centralized systems is nothing new, as many other sectors are in the process of or have already implemented Blockchain with promising results, and it is highly probable that the disaster relief efforts will have much to gain from this new technology, perhaps even saving lives that would have been lost otherwise.