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  • Writer's pictureArpit Shah

Worst of times? Mapping to the rescue

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

Remember the Thailand Cave incident ? It was such a delicate situation and the rescue operations caught the attention and admiration of people across the world. Few know that mapping played a crucial role in preparing the rescue plan.

I was exposed to the concept of 'Fully Flexible' type of supply chain, developed by respected author and supply chain thought leader Dr. John Gattorna, during an internship at his advisory and ever since it has stuck with me (Get his popular book here).

Essentially, these type of supply chains (or supply chain behaviour) are very resilient and proactive during times of grave crisis. Having revisited my literature review submission now, it strikes me that mapping played such an important part in the formation of such supply chains.


"Revilla and Saenz (2014) have studied in depth the emergency supply chains of Cisco. The

company has understood and planned for risks arising out of natural disasters and improved its

resilience over time. It has learnt to “integrate supply chain design and supply chain risk

management, balancing proactive mitigation capabilities in order to keep the company’s supply

chain as resilient, efficient and profitable as possible” (p. 23). When Hurricane Katrina struck in

2005, Cisco executives created a ‘business continuity planning dashboard to mitigate risks’ (p.

23). The system was reactive, however, and it could not maintain the necessary supply chain

performance levels. A surge in orders of nearly $1bn worth of new equipment to replace

telecommunications infrastructure was not fulfilled as company executives could not locate all

its products in the supply chain or assess the financial impact of emergency sales. This led the

company to introspect and make their supply chain extremely flexible in case such a situation

arose in the future.

And so it did. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2010 had caused economic losses to world supply chains of an estimated $217bn. However, Cisco assessed the situation and suffered almost no revenue loss. It took just 12 hours for Cisco’s risk managers to identify all of the suppliers in the region and to assess the impact of disaster. The risk rating was assigned to each part and all the information was charted. On the same day managers were positioned to communicate with

customers and raised 118 enquiries. (p.24) As per the authors, Cisco had identified strategic

priorities, mapped the vulnerabilities of supply chain design, integrated risk awareness into the

product and the value chain, monitored resiliency and kept a watch for events all of which

exhibited characteristics of a fully flexible supply chain."

Incredible, eh ?

It is important to understand that mapping has evolved from being just a visual depiction tool to being a dynamic system to store, explore and query geographic information i.e. GIS. Moreover, with the evolution of technology: AI, ML, IOT, Big Data, Blockchain can all be integrated with GIS to give you superior location intelligence and insights to help you manage high risk situations much better.


Intelloc Mapping Services | is engaged in selling products which capture geo-data (Drones), process geo-data (Geographic Information System) as well as services (PoI Datasets & Satellite Imagery). Together, these help organizations to benefit from Geo-Intelligence for purposes such as operations improvement, project management and digital enabled growth.

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