Technology

Disaster Management using Blockchain and IoT

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In the past few months, the world has witnessed increasing devastation caused by natural disasters, where victims are often forced to move to make-shift shelters, such as churches and auditoriums. But how can displaced residents find the nearest shelter; how can they know if space is still available? Additionally, residents often need to know which shelters are equipped to deal with certain medical conditions. A recent Academy of Technology initiative explored use cases for disaster management using Blockchain and IoT.

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Attribution: Shutterstock.com. Creator: DIIMSA Researcher

Interviews with two such displaced families reveal a dire need for a mobile application that could have helped them get more up-to-date information. Following was their experience during the crisis:

  • They were registered with a National Weather station which gave them alerts on the status of the hurricane.
  • They visited a local government website for details about shelters, but they did not have up-to-date information regarding which shelters were closed and ones that were newly opened.
  • They visited multiple websites for updates on a specific location. Often, informal updates were posted by residents, rather than government officials.
  • Many volunteers delivered food. All communications were via intermittent, ad hoc social media or word of mouth.

Solution using Blockchain and IoT:

A Blockchain solution enables the key players/organizations during a disaster management to communicate effectively and act on time. It allows the organizations to use their existing eco system to facilitate a service and publish on this network. All transactions are recorded on the network.

  • Key stakeholders in this network are government, telecom companies, shelters, food suppliers, transporters, medical suppliers, medical service providers and residents.
  • Blockchain provides a secure environment with its immutability feature, where a record cannot be tampered once created. This creates a trusted environment which supports accountability and governance thus addressing the above-mentioned user stories and conflicts.
  • Blockchain uses a shared distributed ledger which ensures transactions and data reach all concerned parties as soon as they are created. This leads to early settlements.

Internet of Things plays a key role in tracking and tracing residents and the supplies.

  • Mobile or satellite phones can be used to track residents and transportation vehicles.
  • RFID tags on cartons carrying food and medical supplies can help record receipt of supplies at shelters.
  • Latest weather and traffic data information can be used to provide best routes to the nearest shelters or suppliers.

A mobile / web application enables users to access services offered by multiple providers. For example, they can use mobile wallets provided by their telecom operator to make payments. To support this solution, critical features include:

  • Automatically record location of registered users
  • Provide live weather updates – satellite pictures, level of danger
  • Provide an integration point for existing Emergency Management systems
  • Analytics to help early detection of missing people.
  • Maps that…
    • Show the count of users gathered in locations (mainly shelters). Also, support in plotting a specific registered user
    • Show location of services such as shelter, food, medical
    • Recommend best routes to shelters and service providers
    • Provide geo-fencing to protect citizens from crossing borders

More details are published here.

Call to Action:

  • Share your comments on the use case and the proposed solution.

Author: Preethi C Mohan (This blog is posted by AoT on behalf of the author)

Contributors / Reviewers: Timothy Paydos, Ruchika Gupta, Frederic Bauchot, John Cohn, Siddharth Purohit, Amarjeet Mundi, Ramesh Srinivasan

Note: These are the opinions of the author and while a distinguished member of our Academy and IBM, all thoughts expressed are solely his/her own.

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