Web 3.0 and the Trucking Industry – What it Means for Transportation and Logistics

 Alright, so what is this “Web 3.0” and how will it change the world? That may sound a little drastic but if you were to time travel back to 1999, would you be able to predict that one day you would be telling your hand-held, miniature computer to close your garage door, start the vacuum, and the dishwasher at the same time? The evolution of technology is rapidly progressing and with it, the way we do business.

Web 3.0 101

If this is the first time you are hearing this term, you are likely wondering what is considered Web 2.0, Web 1.0 and so on. These terms are classifications for the “phases” of the internet through out time. We can start from the beginning and work our way up to understanding now just what 3.0 is, but what it means for the future.

Web 1.0 was considered the pioneer days of internet. The internet was used for informational purposes and offered little to no customization, let alone function, in these times. As an article from Investopedia.com explains:

“By the mid-1990s, the introduction of web browsers such as Netscape Navigator ushered in the era of Web 1.0. This was the age of static webpages retrieved from servers, a far cry from the slick content that is taken for granted today. Most internet users at that time were delighted by the novelty of features such as email and real-time news retrieval. Content creation was still in its infancy, and users had little opportunity for interactive applications, although this improved as online banking and trading became increasingly popular.”

Often referred to as the Static Web, there were no algorithms to go off of and it was extremely hard for anyone to find information. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the next wave of the modern technology would change everything.

From customizable, interactive web pages to social media networks such as myspace, a whole new world opened up. Mobile connectivity was the biggest driver of change with cellular networks and application creation being the main trademark of Web 2.0, the internet was not more than just email and browser pages.

It can be hard to wrap your head around all the change that has been driven by the advancement of Web 2.0. One of the biggest changes being the economy. While jobs have exploded out of the gig economy, certain industries have had to majorly adapt to keep from collapsing, especially retail. Online commerce has not only changed the game for shoppers but the logistics as well.

With more people ordering online than ever before, distribution centers and warehousing has evolved into mass online networks that rely on getting even their most basic functions up and running. Communicating and processing have altogether become digitized which is a far cry from where we were over a decade ago. This applies majorly to the transportation industry as well. Incoming tech and advancements in how we run logistics could be unrecognizable in the coming decade.

Finally, to Web 3.0. The best way to explain what Web 3.0 is and will be is by example. If you were to do a quick search on what would constitute the “new internet”, as it is sometimes referred to, you’ll see four primary descriptive words -

  • Open – It’s ‘open' in the sense that it’s made with open-source software developed by an open and available community of developers and accomplished in full view of the public.
  • Trust-less – The network offers freedom to users to interact publicly and privately without an intermediary exposing them to risks, hence “trustless” data.
  • Permission-less – Anyone, including users and providers, can engage without the need for permission from a controlling organization.
  • Ubiquitous – Web 3.0 will make the Internet available to all of us, at any time and from any location. At some point, Internet-connected devices will no longer be limited to computers and smartphones, as they are in web 2.0. Because of the IoT (Internet of Things), technology will enable the development of a multitude of new types of intelligent gadgets.”

A good example of this is a virtual assistant, such as Alexa or Siri. These AI’s are programmed to learn behaviors and predict, enhance, and advance our everyday lives. Alexa can present schedules that incorporate your smart home devices such as turning on the lights and television when you get home and activating your robot vacuum and dishwasher when you leave the house. This is just an example of basic Web 3.0 functions that will expand into a new generation of internet in the coming years.

One thing to keep in mind is from what can be seen early on is with the decentralization of the internet, it will likely operate on blockchain technology to ensure data is encrypted and protected (meaning cryptocurrency will become the lay of the land). All the more evident that the complete take over of Web 3.0 is further in the future than this blog is making it out to sound. Take a look at this video to learn more.

That’s great (and maybe a little scary), so what does this have to do with the transportation industry?

With sights primarily set in the supply chain arena, Web 3.0 will usher in a new way of how we track goods, improve processes and resolves errors. The biggest impact will be communication between networks.

Bear with us for some imaginative thinking. When coming into a terminal to deliver a piece of freight, there will likely be no need for human interference as this freight can be identified and interpreted instantly and placed appropriately for it’s next move. Simultaneously, once the freight is offloaded and accepted it, it will no longer show up on the trucks manifest and labeled as delivery completed, then on to the next drop off, all within a matter of minutes.

That all may sound a bit too futuristic and simple but the mechanics that go in behind it will be complex and fine tuned for minimal errors. It will also play a huge role in predicting supply and demand changes and patterns thus making for a more robust, aggressive economy.

One anticipated area of transportation many would like to see this applied in is the actual transport. Traffic, parking, accidents and more could all positively benefit from this new age of tech. An example would be that someday, your nifty ELD may do more than what you know it for now. It can reroute you instantly the moment an accident occurs on your route, it could tell you which truck stops have available parking, and even maybe offer up a few restaurant options near your drop off location.

All our systems that we use for different purposes would be used together to work more efficiently in tandem. This of course will play into the future of autonomous driving and how those vehicles will operate but more on that here.

How would this all work together then? Without going into the weeds too much and keeping the explanation simple, we can try our hand at explaining it like this:

Ever heard the term big data? It is not too hard to understand since that is precisely what it is: big data. As TechBullion put it:

“A big data set is an extremely large dataset, structured or unstructured, that must be collected and analyzed. Data is collected automatically by sensors, GPS devices, cameras, phones, wearables, and other recording technologies to create a real-time picture of what is happening in the world around us.”

From that “picture” companies (and by companies, we mean the software that is programed to interpret data within that company) are able to take in all that data and make operational decisions, resolve errors, communicate and much more with it. Whether it is safety-centered, process-centered, revenue-centered, or all of the above, transportation companies are able to harness this technology and make more efficient moves towards growth.

Has Web 3.0 already made its debut?

The talk of AI and machine learning may sound like a distant world but just like the examples before of Siri and Alexa, the infancy of Web 3.0 is likely already here. The growth rate and life span on technology rapidly increased and unfolded before our eyes in the early 2000s and Web 3.0 may be no different. There was no way to tell that in 2003 we would be able to harness virtual reality technology (looking at you, Metaverse) to attend meetings, let alone FaceTime, by 2013.

Cryptocurrency is seen as mere components of Web 3.0 but will play a crucial role in it’s growth and operations.

Just like then, there is no one way to define what Web 3.0 truly is until it’s here and used through out multiple industries across the world. The differences it will make in the transportation industry will be nothing less than monumental, but the same can be said for every industry.

The dark side of Web 3.0

Because of the trust-less and decentralization, the internet may become a more dangerous place. It may become less regulated so corporations, governments and platform owners will have little control in what goes online and what activities conspire. The spread of misinformation could run rampant and cause more trouble in the early stages.

Another prediction is that with the evolution of Web 3.0, it will start taking over jobs and what was once done by a 20-person department can now be done by one computer. We’ve already seen what technology and robotics have done in the manufacturing world but not on a scale as large as Web 3.0 would be.

Not to fear though, as by the time this new internet is in full swing, some of you may be retired or moved into more tech-savvy positions that are expected to explode in the next 10-20 years. You have likely seen articles of major corporations starting to accept cryptocurrencies and this is one of the biggest steps that companies are taking. Since Web 3.0 is still more of a concept than a tangible reality, the most a mid-size or small business can do is keep an open mind and be ready to pivot strategy when the time comes.

What should companies be doing now to prepare for Web 3.0?

You may have read articles on how companies are beginning to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for their goods or services and this is considered to first step towards Web 3.0. In the coming years it is expected that more companies will start operating with cryptocurrencies alongside traditional currencies as the economy evolves.

Change is always difficult when a corporation is built on tradition and reputation. Companies that have been able to adapt and utilize changes in trends and technologies have historically been able to grow and reap the benefits of the new age. So, it’s safe to say that with the new internet heading our way, the best and first thing an organization should do is keep an open mind and be ready to “get with the times.”

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