BIMCO calls for IMO to create industry digitalisation strategy

Jeppe Skovbakke Juhl, Manager, Maritime Safety & Security at BIMCO, presenting at IMO FAL 48

BIMCO has submitted a paper to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) calling for the development of a comprehensive strategy on maritime digitalisation, to improve coordination among various stakeholders and digital initiatives in the industry and maximise the benefits for all actors.

The paper, submitted in conjunction with China, Liberia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), was part of the agenda for the latest meeting of IMO’s Committee on Facilitation.

The paper calls on IMO to develop a digitalisation strategy defining a clear roadmap for the strategic direction of the organisation in dealing with digitalisation, to improve the standardisation, harmonisation and integration of digital systems.

“For digitalisation initiatives to succeed, parties are reliant on trust in data, seamless data exchange and compatibility between shoreside infrastructure and shipboard equipment,” BIMCO says.

“Therefore, existing and future digital challenges such as autonomous shipping (MASS), Maritime Single Window (MSW) implementation, digital signatures, and e-navigation developments must be addressed.”

A recent survey conducted by BIMCO, IAPH, IFSMA and FONASBA found that that 40% of the shipping industry is unaware of the IMO resolution mandating the use of a Maritime Single Window for data exchange, which came into effect from 1 January 2024. The survey also showed that only 36% of port calls offered fully electronic exchange of data.

The paper’s proposers suggest that extracting the maximum benefit from emerging technologies will require a coordinated approach within the IMO and between the IMO and other intergovernmental organisations, to promote the adoption of electronic formats in various reporting requirements, enhance data harmonisation, and ensure system interoperability across digital platforms.

“Streamlining digital processes will facilitate more effective and efficient information exchange between ships and ports, thereby saving time and reducing operational costs. In addition, the strategy could stimulate innovative approaches in designing, building, and operating ships,” BIMCO says.

“Therefore, a digitalisation strategy from the IMO will not only send a strong signal on the priorities of the organisation, but also signal the importance of digitalisation externally and among industry stakeholders.”

“By doing so, the IMO can make sure that all stakeholders, including those outside the organisation, are aware of the strategy and aligned with its digital agenda, promoting greater collaboration among stakeholders, wider adoption of standards, and more effective implementation of digital solutions as a result. Consequently, it will represent a major step towards increasing efficiency, safety, and sustainability of the maritime industry.”

BIMCO’s submission document to IMO can be downloaded here.

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