The headline read “US Treasury Pilots Blockchain-based Asset Tracking System” and I thought, “What a great application.” For anyone who has been part of, or, worse yet, in charge of, asset tracking you know what a nightmare it can be. I naively thought I could implement such a program at a company I worked for once. Boy, was I wrong!
We were having trouble with lost, misplaced and stolen equipment from the workplace so I instituted an asset tracking program which required someone (me) going around from room to room and recording each item, description, quantity or condition of an item for the record. Then, for the program to work everyone was responsible for entering, editing and updating the database whenever a change was made. That was never going to happen. But I learned the hard way.
Someone brought a chalkboard from one floor to another with every intention of bringing it back as soon as they were finished with it. Stuff happens. During the meeting, the boss decided to keep a small group on to work on the schedule outlined in the diagram on the blackboard. That blackboard would have to stay for the duration of the project. No one entered that fact into the inventory database and the blackboard went missing, as far as anyone responsible for inventory was concerned. The program devolved into a nightmare because records weren’t being updated, new items were added and old ones subtracted without the fact being recorded. After a while, the paper labels and the ledger book were ignored and could not be trusted.
Some asset management programs require the location of the item AT ALL TIMES such as airport luggage. Others, such as my equipment inventory program have a location field in the data but that is just wishful thinking. You see the problem, though. See tracking program has different requirements, and, based on the level of participation, different outcomes.
Using blockchain, at least one problem is eliminated. The data can be trusted. Now, if procedures for the proper input to the blockchain can be established and maintained, there might be an asset tracking program worth its weight in gold.