The role of IoT technology in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Semtech‘s Roelof Koopmans put it well when he wrote, “The worldwide distribution of the vaccines in some cases at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit)—is putting a spotlight on how Internet of Things (IoT)-based sensor technologies can help to enable a challenging supply chain process. Different use cases in logistics, specifically cold-chain logistics, have unique requirements that need to be independently addressed.

In some cases, power must be prioritised, so IoT technology that offers long range and low power consumption qualities may be the right choice. This type of technology also leverages new and better ways to provide geolocation services, which allow cargo, vehicles and other assets to be easily monitored over large geographic regions and within harsh environments.”

Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic saw many technological solutions really thrive and IoT is no exception. It’s helped to distribute around 10 billion vaccines all around the world, and the quest continues to this day, says Jocelyn Brown, freelance technology writer.

Tracking items and sharing information

Every minute in the UK, 10 parcels are lost or stolen. While this is a fraction of the total number of items in the mail, it’s still a worrying statistic. Over 10 billion vaccine shots have been given already, which is largely due to courier companies working hard to keep losses to a minimum. How do they do this? Through the use of IoT tracking. The technology is able to keep a virtual eye on the vaccines through every step of the delivery process.

As soon as an item disappears, the technology automatically detects it. This helps to identify weak spots in the supply chain. No human could ever keep track of all these packages but IoT is able to without a problem. It can then share this information with every system, company, and human involved in the supply chain so that all parties can ensure the safe delivery of as many vaccines as possible.

Protecting vaccines from hackers

When thinking about how global supply chains can distribute the vaccine worldwide, one word comes to mind, security. Unfortunately, hackers are constantly trying to gain access to systems and steal information for their own benefit. Each year, there are countless security breaches committed against the UK postal service. This includes physical thefts from more than 5 million Brits but also involves data breaches. IoT has been utilised to keep the information shared throughout the supply chain secure. It spots and prevents hackers from gaining access to the system. This allows the process to run smoothly, helping vaccines find their way to the people who need them.

Finding the most efficient distribution strategy

Jocelyn Brown

IoT solutions evolve more quickly than almost any other technology. Using artificial learning, the systems are constantly updating and finding ways to speed up the process. Operations have been continually analysed for efficiency. This allows IoT technology to see where efficiency is lacking and suggest improvements. With every step of the process optimised for productivity, it’s possible to distribute vaccines faster than ever before.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world has been incredible. Never before have we seen such a swift and efficient development and distribution of a vaccine. Credit needs to go to the humans behind this massive endeavour, including the scientists, the couriers, and the medical staff involved. However, spare a thought also for the technology. Without IoT, there’s no doubt that the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines would have been significantly less effective.

The author is freelance technology writer, Jocelyn Brown.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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