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Port Strategy | Efficiency gains with digital collaboration

A new report finds collaborative use of digital technology can help streamline all aspects of maritime transport. Photo: Gerd Altmann/ Pixabay

A new report shows that better digital collaboration between private and public entities across the maritime supply chain will result in significant efficiency gains, safer and more resilient supply chains, and lower emissions.

The joint report by the World Bank and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) describes how collaborative use of digital technology can help streamline all aspects of maritime transport, from cross-border processes and documentation to communications between ship and shore, with a special focus on ports.

IAPH managing director of policy and strategy, Dr Patrick Verhoeven, said: “The report’s short and medium term measures to accelerate digitalization have the proven potential to improve supply chain resilience and efficiency whilst addressing potential risks related to cybersecurity. However, necessary policy reform is also vital. Digitalization is not just a matter of technology but, more importantly, of change management, data collaboration, and political commitment.”

COVID-19 accelerates need for digital tech

Accelerating Digitalization: Critical Actions to Strengthen the Resilience of the Maritime Supply Chain is published as the COVID-19 crisis has evidenced a key benefit of digitising waterborne and landside operations: meeting the urgent needs to minimise human interaction and enhance the resilience of supply chains against future crises.

Although the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has made it mandatory for all its member countries to exchange key data electronically (the FAL convention), a recent IAPH survey reveals that only a third of over 100 responding ports comply with that requirement. The main barriers to digitalise cited by the ports were the legal framework in their countries or regions and persuading the multiple private-public stakeholders to collaborate, not the technology.

The report analyses numerous technologies applied already by some from the world’s leading port and maritime communities, including big data, the internet of things (IoT), fifth-generation technology (5G), blockchain solutions, wearable devices, unmanned aircraft systems, and other smart technology-based methods to improve performance and economic competitiveness

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