In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the central government imposed lockdowns both complete and partial, to limit the spread of the virus. The immediate short-term measures that were taken, showed us that the transport and logistics sector was not really prepared to be operating in the conditions resulting from the pandemic. Furthermore, the implementation of policies such as work from home created an increased need for consumption and enhanced the turn towards e-commerce, which of course cannot be accompanied by closing borders or imposing restrictions on transport vehicles.
A combination of factors ended up in disruption of supply chains, which resulted in temporary shortages, as well as shocks to the economy. The crisis also resulted in social impacts, wherein professionals, border officers, often got stuck at border clearance posts, exposed to possible contagion, given the precarious infrastructure and sanitary situation at many border crossings across the country. While the vulnerability of transport systems to outbreaks of communicable diseases has become very apparent, the need for safe mobility of goods during the prevailing pandemic has also become quite a concern – thus the necessity of technological interventions like location intelligence is now quite apparent.
Collection of data can be facilitated from vehicles, road and city infrastructure, mobile devices, and location platforms which can be then displayed on specific map layers or other interfaces that are map-centric in order to conceptualize location insights which could be then translated into improved performance and safety for the transportation of goods.
One can take the issue of navigating through traffic congestion as well as containment areas that end up cropping up from time to time in various localities, which increases the time taken for a product or service to be delivered to the customer that in some cases might be detrimental for products that have a short shelf life. Restricted movement from one hub to another and an increase in the time spent by delivery agents on each task can be detrimental for cases where the goods being delivered are fragile and critical in nature.
Assessing the best timings for movement for businesses, location intelligence can help in suggesting alternate routes by analysis of real-time data. From factoring in different markers like the time of day to assigning the nearest agents to track last-mile delivery, as well as uncovering hidden data points - location intelligence can ensure that the goods being transported are delivered safely. Another point to consider is tracking of vehicular movement, which can look at variables like driver fatigue, weather conditions, road constructions, so on which can help in preparations of scenarios that would otherwise increase the probability of road accidents and cost businesses a lot.
As transport operations have been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has led to disruption of supply chains and trade flows. While the country grapples with the second wave, the delivery and availability of essential products like food or medicines have become a common concern, as it undermines the capacity of states to respond to COVID-19 and begin recovering sustainably. As lessons learned from the first wave, we know that in order to drive social-economic recovery and to become resilient and more sustainable, supply chains require more effective coordination and cooperation between transport modes across cities and borders.
Designing a safe and efficient intermodal transport system by the use of location intelligence can allow safe movement of cargo, without requiring physical checks which also helps in reducing contact between people. Coordinated fleet management through location intelligence software, can help traders in communicating electronically with all the agencies involved, with reduced physical contact and enhanced streamlining of processes.
Cooperation on trade facilitation and transport connectivity is most vital for addressing needs and priorities. Automation and dematerialization, empowered by GIS can help in the digitalization of trade-in custom procedures to ensure the faster secure exchange of data, and information regarding the cargo concerned and means of transport. Location intelligence hence helps in ensuring safety in terms of not only transit but contactless delivery as well, which of course, are important concerns in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.