Conference organized by CETMO highlights potential of blockchain technology in transport and logistics
- The event focused on future blockchain applications in mobility services, electric vehicles and maritime transport
- The conference represents the first step in a project that will enable CETMO to explore the opportunities offered by blockchain technology in the transport sector and its digitalization process
As a constant innovator in transport, CETMO organized the conference The Impact of Blockchain Technology on Managing Transport Infrastructure and Services in conjunction with the Infrastructure Circle and the Association of Civil Engineers of Catalonia.
The event was held on Friday, 13 July 2018, at the headquarters of the Association of Civil Engineers of Catalonia. It was merely the first step in a line of work that will enable CETMO to learn more about the subject and explore new practical applications of blockchain technology in passenger and freight transport, not to mention the logistics activities that will derive from this technology.
The conference was attended by a well-informed audience and the speakers were experts on the subject matter. Their presentations highlighted the areas of the transport sector in which blockchain technology can provide solutions at present and in the near future, as well as other areas in which work remains to be done for it to become a useful technology.
Blockchain technology may be applicable in different transport infrastructure and services.
- Ports: this is one of the fields in which there is greatest consensus about the advantages of applying blockchain technology. In maritime freight transport, 50% of container costs are administrative. Blockchain technology can play a decisive role in the digitalization process in this area. The challenge is to use blockchain technology to digitalize the bill of lading (a maritime transport document that indicates the terms of the carrier’s agreement and serves as a receipt and proof of ownership of the goods) to favour decentralization, security and immutability. This would notably reduce the costs and risks of port operations.
- Electric vehicles: blockchain technology can play a significant role in the field of energy and this would benefit mobility in terms of electric vehicles. Smart contracts can be arranged to manage last-mile options for electric vehicles in conjunction with increased supply of public transport.
Application of this technology in the energy sector is closely linked to the creation of solar communities that harness solar energy to complement their electricity consumption through community micro-networks. These micro-networks could help solve the problem of shared self-consumption. If this excess energy is used to charge electric vehicles, then this is a case of the use of a truly renewable energy source for mobility.
- Mobility services: in a context in which public transport networks are not able to fully cover all needs, there are a great many small companies trying to increase their meagre market share, as well as other companies whose aim is to effectively monopolize the market. In this context, it has been suggested that blockchain technology could be used to create an open, decentralized, multimodal and multi-supplier mobility market. This would mean that any operator would be viable, regardless of size. Given that no applications, marketing or agreements are required, it should be possible, say, for one taxi to work as efficiently as an entire fleet.
- Road infrastructure concessions: motorways and roads in general also require digitalization to meet challenges such as increased traffic, innovations in road technology and smart mobility. Blockchain technology could be useful for motorways to help eliminate intermediaries in the supply chain, and improve monitoring and control of construction projects. It could also be used to improve cooperation with traffic authorities. Because all the actors in this field have access to the same repeated data, blockchain technology could be used to improve crisis-management techniques and provide information on traffic events. Finally, blockchain technology could also open the door to new and more accurate payment systems that are able to apply discounts based on factors such as the weather and road conditions.
On the other hand, there are also areas of the transport sector (e.g. public transport) in which blockchain technology is not considered to be useful enough to be implemented in the near future. Although countries such as Malta are starting to introduce blockchain technology to reduce costs and optimize public transport services, the reality is that public transport is still a field where the application of this technology does not generate sufficient added value.
In conclusion, blockchain technology will start to have an impact on freight transport and logistics in the immediate future and will represent a major change because of the administrative procedures it will reduce. Although blockchain technology could be applied to benefit passenger mobility, the effect will not be as disruptive as in the case of transport and logistics.