IMO and international bodies sign digital data standards partnership

A new partnership between IMO, the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Organization for Standardization has been announced, to support the digitalisation and standardisation of data exchange between vessels and ports.

When ships enter and leave ports, information about cargoes, dangerous goods, crews, vessel details and other items has to be exchanged with authorities ashore. The IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), first introduced in 1967, is the international treaty used to provide a global framework for ships’ arrival, stay and departure at international ports.

The FAL Convention contains standards and recommended practices covering the formalities, documentary requirements and procedures that should be used for port visits, and since April 2019 has included a mandatory requirement for ships and ports to be able to exchange FAL data electronically.

This process has been initiated to encourage the introduction of ‘single window’ reporting, whereby all of the many agencies and authorities involved in vessel transit exchange data via a single point of contact.

The new partnership agreement between IMO and these other international bodies paves the way for an updated IMO Reference Data Model to be developed to support further harmonisation of data standards in other areas, beyond the FAL Convention, such as exchanging operational data that could help facilitate just-in-time operation of ships.

The parties have been already begun cooperating on development of the updated Data Model, which covers the reporting requirements defined in the FAL Convention to support transmission, receipt and response procedures for required information via electronic data exchange. This work is aimed at ensuring interoperability between the respective standards of each organisation, IMO says.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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