Augmenting Rural Supply Chains with a Location-Enhanced Mobile Information System

Paul S. Javid; Tapan S. Parikh, "Augmenting Rural Supply Chains with a Location-Enhanced Mobile Information System," International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, 2006. ICTD '06, pp.110-119 (May 2006)


In recent years, there has been increased interest in the market potential of rural communities in the developing world. In the developing world, the lack of information and communications infrastructure has left companies with manual paper-based information methods as the only means of analyzing and aggregating data. This primitive approach to rural supply chain management creates a barrier to efficiency and a barrier to entry for many companies. In this paper we discuss a field study conducted with a company involved in the marketing, sale, and distribution of products in rural India. We describe the participants in this company's rural supply chain, highlighting inefficiencies in the information and material flow. We show how a technology-based solution could help optimize distribution routes and reduce inefficiency. By knowing the location and details of transactions, the company can better direct rural marketing strategies and manage human and material resources. We present the high-level design of this system and enumerate the possible technologies that can be used to determine a user's location via a mobile device, including GPS, GSM triangulation and Placelab using GSM (LaMarca et al., 1999). To assess the potential of GSM-based methods, we describe the results of an experiment we conducted to determine the extent of GSM coverage along common rural sales routes. Our results indicate that GSM-based methods are sufficient for some purposes, but can not be used to determine the exact position of all rural transactions, especially those that occur in rural villages. We discuss scanning location-specific barcodes as a possible way of localizing transactions to individual villages and customers


Last updated:

September 20, 2016