Potential applications of Distributed Ledger Technology to the Defence Support Network

J. D. Hackman

Proponents of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) claim it could have an impact greater than the internet; a breakthrough defying organisational boundaries by securely storing data across trustless entities. This would allow decisions to be made on verifiable data in an automated manner without the costs imposed by middlemen, with a corresponding economy-wide impact. Despite this potential, real-world application is embryonic with public and private sectors rapidly seeking exploitation opportunities. This research seeks to understand how DLT might apply to the Defence Support Network (DSN), the mechanism used to sustain UK Armed Forces with materiel and equipment. Drawing on academic and commercial models, a framework was produced for evaluating DLT use cases which measures utility, ease of implementation and impact. Using a functionalist research paradigm, interviews were conducted with DLT and DSN experts on potential use cases, the data from which was then analysed against a lightweight version of the evaluation framework. Results show that use cases involving codification, certification and supply chain provenance merit further investigation. The research concluded with recommendations that the DSN should pilot DLT use cases, but these should be carefully selected utilising an evaluation framework due to DLT's emergent nature.

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