This is not going to be an especially helpful post, I’m afraid. I don’t think there is a singular breakthrough for supply chain transparency. Instead, tracking supply chains requires a crazy amount of triangulation from multiple, disparate sources — satellites, import/export records, banking disclosures.
We are learning this first-hand as we build Global Plastic Watch to track plastic waste from satellite imagery, and the supporting work that went into this data story that we built and this associated NYTimes article. The report is a combination of information from dozens of sources, with profound variation in the openness, cost, and reporting incentives for each dataset. It is unclear if there is any singular solution to harmonize data from such fundamentally disparate sources — and the problem is unavoidable, since triangulation/corroboration is critical to monitor supply chains in a robust and trustworthy way.
The one possible breakthrough, maybe, would be a way to index and serve data. Open protocols, robust taxonomy, and modern infrastructure. How do you index the supply chain data for search? Probably some standard codes like ISO 3166 for companies. How do you combine information from many small projects, like trase.earth, climatetrace.org, or Plastic Waste Makers Index? We are involved in a few of these projects, and try to organize the data internally to find comparisons, but the breakthrough solution would have to be much broader, much bigger.