Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Non-Repudiation in Supply Chain Management - Use Case for Blockchain

Supply chains are under strain at the moment -- the fragility of current systems is laid bare during this pandemic crisis. Blockchain, simplified, is a data structure that maintains transactional records and while ensuring security. This decentralized approach ensures — a chain of records which are controlled by no single authority. This enables digital information to be distributed, but not copied, so each individual piece of data can only have one owner. Blockchain is the underlying technology of digital currencies. But it has a multiplicity of uses.

Many call blockchain a “digital ledger” stored in a distributed network. Here is one way to think about how Blockchain works:

“Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet…”

This information is constantly reconciled into a database, which is stored in multiple locations and updated instantly. That means the records are public and verifiable. Since there’s no central location, it harder to disrupt as the data exists simultaneously in millions of places.

In the service of supply chain management, manifests could be secured with this approach. Modern supply chains are complex. A business’ supply chain consists of all the links to creating and distributing it products. Depending on the goods, a supply chain can be extraordinarily complex, spanning numerous stages with multiple geographical (often global) locations. The documentation can consist of a multitude of invoices, statements, payments, bills of lading, etc., and have several individuals and entities involved. The timeframe, even with just-in-time production, can require months for the process to go from raw materials, component construction and assembly, through packaging and distribution.

The idea of using blockchain to streamline workflows for all parties, no matter the size of the business network, is not new. In government procurement, for example, shared infrastructure provides auditors with greater visibility into participants’ activities along the value chain.

The challenges in many supply chains include lack of transparency because data consolidation clouds repudiation. There's a lack of real-time issue resolution resulting in ineffective supply chain risk management. Shocks (as we have seen) result in sudden demand changes -- a "bullwhip" effect that reverberates throughout the vendor ecosystem.

A use case might look like this: instead of having a central intermediary, use blockchain in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution to synchronize data and transactions across the network. Each participant verifies the work and calculations of others. This relives the enormous amount of redundancy and crosschecking found in many current systems.

With the right implementation strategy, blockchain has the potential to drive efficiencies, lower costs, and to enhance consumer experience through transparency and traceability.

Monday, April 6, 2020

With remote business and social distancing, now is the time to switch to e-signatures

Businesses are striving to continue to operate normally during the COVID-19 world-wide pandemic. With restrictions on physical meetings, with many businesses are now operating as much as possible remotely. This may raise the question: how to execute documents in these circumstances? Do you wonder whether it is possible to validly execute documents by electronic signature? The short answer is, electronic signatures can be validly used in many circumstances.

An electronic signature allows a person to electronically add a signature to an online contract. An electronic signature (or e-signature) is a digital version of the paper-based method of signing signatures, the person with the intent to sign simply electronically signs the document -- thus removing the necessity of handwritten signatures. It is often an image of a signature.

A digital signature is a different method of validating an online document. Encryption software is required. This involves electronic data, encrypted message and encryption protections. Whilst a digital signature can be grouped with the category of electronic signature, it uses algorithms to create a digital fingerprint or private key (or secret key) unique to your document.

Read more over at

Friday, March 27, 2020

UPS in a Deal for Drones to Delivery Packages

Flight Forward, a subsidiary of UPS that handles drone delivery, has partnered with German drone manufacturer Wingcopter to develop the next generation of package delivery drones for a variety of use cases in the United States and internationally. An article in GPS World writes:
UPS chose Wingcopter for its unmanned aircraft technology and its track record in delivering a variety of goods over long distances in multiple international settings. As part of this collaboration -- UPSFF's first new relationship with a drone manufacturer since its formation -- both companies will work toward earning regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States. It also is a critical step toward building a diverse fleet of drones with varying capabilities to meet potential customer needs. 
The Wingcopter drones feature vertical takeoffs and landings in tight spaces, transitioning to efficient, high-speed horizontal flight, enabling ranges suitable for a variety of uses. These capabilities will allow UPSFF to begin developing solutions that, if approved, will go well beyond the healthcare and retail industries to solve long-standing challenges for high-tech, industrial manufacturing, hospitality, entertainment and other customers. [Wincopter's] electric vertical takeoff and landing drones have a patented tilt-rotor mechanism, which enables a seamless transition between two drone modes: multicopter for hovering and fixed-wing for low-noise forward flight. The aerodynamic Wingcopter aircrafts operate with stability even in harsh weather conditions.
"Drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all operation," said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group. "Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases. UPS Flight Forward is building a network of technology partners to broaden our unique capability to serve customers and extend our leadership in drone delivery."

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pandemic - This is Just What the Internet was Developed For

As more countries enforce social distancing (and even quarantine), the internet will stay online during the Coronavirus pandemic. It was designed for just this type of situation (well, nuclear war, but a catastrophe is a catastrophe). The internet got its start in the US more than 50 years ago as a government solution to problems likely in the Cold War -- Arpanet was designed to resist destruction of nodes. For years, scientists and researchers used it to communicate and share data with one another.

The work-from-home model is set to strain the internet’s underlying infrastructure, with a burden likely to be particularly felt in the home networks that people have set up, and internet service providers such as Comcast, Charter and Verizon who connect those home networks.

During the Cold War there was constant fear of nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.  A communications system for computers was envisioned, and universities took the lead. Today's Internet emerged from military technology. ARPANET, developed by the American military as a network of communication across the country on servers that were decentralized, as a way to safeguard against the possibility of a nuclear attack.

By decentralizing the network, if one server of computers went down, the others would still be able to function because they would be able to simply pick up the same information from another server. A communications system for computers was envisioned, and universities took the lead. Only a few computers were the first connected in the original ARPANET, located in the respective computer research labs of UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. ARPANET protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).

Another area of concern: response to the Coronavirus exposes Internet inequality among U.S. students as schools close their doors, as millions of Americans lack web access. This digital divide causes problems for educators’ efforts to continue instruction during this health crisis.

Read more here....

Friday, March 20, 2020

When Drone Delivery Moves from Fad to Requirement

The concept of “social distancing,” in the face of the pandemic, is racing around the world. This signals a time for cities and governments to embrace drone delivery -- not just for speed and convenience, but to protect citizens' most vulnerable members.

Drones originally designed to spray pesticides for agricultural applications were adapted in China to spray disinfecting chemicals in some public spaces and on epidemic prevention vehicles traveling between impacted areas. (Coronavirus is mainly transmitted via respiratory droplets and can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Disinfectant spray helps reduce these transmission mechanisms.)

The drone delivery company JD worked with government stakeholders to dramatically increase service areas to bring supplies to quarantined and isolated areas. JD explains that the drones drop parcels at a fixed point, allowing customers to pick them up without human-to-human contact – which minimizes the risk for both the courier and the customer.

In Spain, drones were used to alert people to the need to shelter in place. Drones have also been used for surveillance of large groups of people. Soaring over crowds, these devices can pinpoint if anyone is in need of medical attention. Of course, this is another method that is allowing medical employees to scan at a distance. Some drones are even equipped with infrared thermometers to detect body temperatures. A high temperature can mean that the person has the coronavirus, yet this method is far from foolproof.