The International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) has launched the Network of Trusted Networks (NoTN), a new secure port-to-port and cross-border data exchange concept to allow facilities in different locations to share information and improve supply chain efficiency.
This new system to support port-to-port and cross-border data exchange is being trialled by IPCSA as part of a two-year proof of concept project involving 14 IPCSA members, covering 70 ports, ten airports and multiple inland terminals.
The purpose of the Network is to provide improved predictability, visibility and certainty within the supply chain through the provision of real-time, end-to-end information on shipments using a trusted neutral platform.
IPCSA notes that, while there have been other attempts to create similar cross-border systems, the key stumbling block is always ‘trust’ as new platforms aim to convince direct users to share data. The NoTN concept takes a different approach, instead looking to create connections between existing local trusted platforms, such as Port Community Systems (PCS), Cargo Community Systems and Single Window services.
This allows commercial confidentiality to be respected and maintained, a cornerstone of the operation of these existing systems.
“It is a trusted network because it isn’t going to the ‘end user’. The user is already identified and authenticated by the network. The platforms will only share data that they are allowed to share by their user,” explains IPCSA chairman Hans Rook.
“The benefits will be for the end-user. For example, if you have a shipment coming from Morocco into a UK port, you will be able to find out through your PCS whether your container has been loaded on the vessel, when it departed and when it is estimated to arrive in the UK port.”
In the initial proof of concept phase, IPCSA will build the concept around two ‘Track and Trace’ APIs it has developed for vessel status and container status. The system will always remain restricted to platform-to-platform connections, but will provide for standardised and simplified contractual arrangements and transparent fee negotiation between the ports or PCSs.
No data is stored, and all data is encrypted, IPCSA notes.
“IPCSA and its members has been considering how best to enable port-to-port and cross-border information. We have clearly identified that not all the problems are technical. In fact, some of the biggest problems are legal agreements between parties,” said IPCSA Secretary General, Richard Morton.
“In our daily lives we think nothing of downloading and using apps – we considered how we could use this model for simplifying the exchange of information. This is what IPCSA is addressing in its proof-of-concept NoTN. The aim is to create simple cross-border exchanges and enable transparency through the supply chain.”
“The whole concept is driven by the platforms – not by IPCSA, which remains the completely neutral facilitator between them. The proof of concept is looking at how this develops, and we will evaluate and refine as needed.”
The technical provider for the NoTN proof of concept is data sharing platform NxtPort, with IPCSA tailoring the NxtPort offering to suit the neutrality requirements of the initiative and create a scalable and collaborative system to share and exchange data.