Industry groups calling for acceleration of digitalization of ports

The International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) and other industry partners are calling for action to accelerate the pace of digitalization to cope with a post-COVID19 new normal and for wide-ranging adoption of secure electronic data exchange.  To date, only 49 of the 174 Member States of the International Maritime Organization possess functioning Port Community Systems.

According to the call for action communiqué, “The COVID-19 crisis has painfully demonstrated the heterogeneous landscape that currently exists across ports worldwide.

“While some port communities seized the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution and developed into full-fledged ‘smart’ ports, many others have barely grasped the essentials of digitalization and continue to struggle with larger reliance on personal interaction and paper-based transactions as the norms for shipboard, ship-port interface and port-hinterland based exchanges.”

IAPH Managing Director, Patrick Verhoeven, commented: “One of the major outcomes of the last eight weeks of intensive work of the WPSP Covid19 Task Force is the very urgent need for ports to digitalize processes and data exchanges as we move towards a post-COVID19 modus operandi.

“Exchanging paper by hand and relying on person-to-person interaction simply doesn’t cut the mustard anymore, neither from a safety nor efficiency standpoint.” 

The call to action concludes: “Working on these priorities requires collaboration between maritime supply chain industry stakeholders and government.

“Above all, it calls for inter-governmental collaboration as the acceleration of digitalization will require change management at local, regional, and national levels. National trade facilitation committees implemented under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement could be an excellent instrument for member states and port authorities to drive the change.”

The policy document, which has also been developed with members of the Roundtable of international port organizations and experts from the WPSP COVID19 Taskforce, will now be submitted to the IMO Secretariat in London as a proposal for further dissemination.

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