Maritime NGOs look to create ISO group for standards in digital data exchange

A group of maritime NGOs has made a public invitation to stakeholders in the maritime and port sectors to work together with them to help create global ISO standards facilitating the digital exchange of administrative, operational and nautical data.

The group, which includes BIMCO, DryBulkTerminals, FONASBA, IAPH, ICS, IFSMA, IHMA, IPCSA and ITPCO, has published an open letter calling on existing neutral industry bodies to join them to work together on technical standards for data administered under ISO Technical Committee 8 (ISO TC8), to allow compatible and interoperable commercial APIs to be developed.

The group aims to build on the existing work done by IMO’s Facilitation Committee (FAL) in the creation of its Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, which aims to support harmonisation and standardisation of electronic messages by defining elements of the electronic FAL forms across World Customs Organization, UN/CEFACT and ISO standard models.

To achieve genuine interoperability between independent IT systems among relevant stakeholders, the proposers are looking to promote standards in three specific areas: Nautical data, including general port data, depths, and identification of terminals and berth positions; Administrative data, such as that within the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) database; and Operational data, including arrival and departure times and cargo starting and completion times (as per the IMO Compendium).

“Where collaboration between the IMO, IHO and industry is good for nautical data, similar collaboration in administrative and operational data is lacking,” the open letter reads.

“IMO, together with NGOs and IMO Member States, have put in a significant effort to develop data definitions and data models in the IMO Compendium which is the first and most important step: to have a common language.”

“However, the second and third steps, namely developing technical standards and software platforms, still remain to be addressed. This letter is about the second step.”

The group aims to create a permanent working group under ISO TC8/SC11 (subcommittee 11, Intermodal and Short Sea Shipping) to assume responsibility for defining the information exchange requirements and APIs needed for ship and shore data exchange, alongside the IMO Compendium. It is hoped that interested industry bodies will come forward to join this initiative for a planned meeting in Q2 2021.

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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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