Transport sector calls for EU to support data standardisation and interoperability

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) has joined with representative bodies from the road, air, rail, manufacturing and logistics sectors to issue a joint statement calling for the adoption of an EU framework on the governance of business-to-business (B2B) data, based around five principles that include standardisation and interoperability of data platforms.

“In the transport, logistics and mobility sectors, innovation relies increasingly on the processing and exchange of large amounts of personal and non-personal data between multiple actors,” the statement says.

“In addition, innovative solutions in goods and passenger transport such as connected vehicles, smart cities and digital platforms have led to an increase in data generation. We know how crucial data is to gain insights on customers, routes or vehicle loads, as well as how commercially sensitive such data can be.”

“We believe that data and digitalisation provides new opportunities throughout logistics and mobility systems, and for EU citizens and businesses. Moreover, efforts to digitalise the transport sector will also contribute to achieving the EU Green Deal objectives. Nevertheless, we are acutely aware of the challenges to be overcome to unlock the potential of the data economy.”

The group points to lack of trust in how collected data will be used or how it may be misappropriated by third-parties as major concerns, as well as the lack of legal clarity relating to access to data collected from businesses.

The group suggests the creation of an EU framework on data governance, built on five principles clarifying the collection, usage and rights to data – specifically including standardisation and interoperability as key objectives.

“The lack of commonly agreed interoperable and multimodal specifications at EU level, for example, for APIs or data formats, is an issue that makes interoperability between platforms difficult and increases the risk of lock-in with platform,” the statement says.

“The standardisation efforts must factor the economic and operational realities of transport companies and not represent an excessive burden.”

“In this respect, initiatives like the delegated acts under the ITS Directive (the EU Intelligent Transport Systems directive) are useful for establishing certain standards for the transport sector as a whole. Data spaces should be supported through cloud infrastructure based on the principles of security, interoperability and data portability.”

The statement concludes with a pledge from the transport and logistics sector representative associations that they are ready to cooperate with each other and with the European Commission to develop this framework in relation to transport sector data, once it is based on the proposed principles.

In addition to ECSA, the full list of statement signatories includes: International Road Transport Union (IRU), The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER); Airlines for Europe (A4E); International Association for Public Transport authorities (UITP); European Shippers’ Council (ESC); European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA); and European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA).

The full statement can be downloaded here.

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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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