Is COVID-19 a catalyst to overcoming obstacles to true data sharing between port stakeholders?

Questions and Answers

Can you please share some insights on the digitalisation implemented.


Through our digitalisation drive, Maqta Gateway has spearheaded more than 140 digital services across Abu Dhabi’s maritime trade and logistics sector. This accounts for a cumulative total of 30 million transactions since our launch in 2014. Integrating all our strategic partners and customers for services related to ports, industrial zones, marine operations, and logistics into one unified ecosystem has successfully eliminated millions of physical visits to our facilities and reduced CO2 emissions. Not only has this streamlined the movement of vessels, affecting millions of tonnes of cargo, but it has also ensured operational cost savings for all our stakeholders.




What you are seeing is that a lot of companies that lead the maritime supply chain (big chemical companies, just as an example) are postponing digital projects as those projects are not their biggest priority at the moment. So for them covid-19 is a postponing factor. Does that hold back or at least influence digitization of ports?


We have seen the opposite trend happening in the region. Companies are actively investing in digital solutions in order to remain competitive, optimise internal operations and ensure business continuity. In turn, AD Ports is on a continuous journey to provide customers with digital services across the supply chain. Those that do not invest in digitalisation will be left behind




We heard also lots of matter regarding crew change. How can IMO influence and or work with Immigration and Port of respective countries?


IMO is a Member State organization and has been encouraging and urging the Member States to implement the crew change protocols which have been developed by a broad cross section of industry organizations and issued by IMO in CL.4204/add.14. (Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 (5 May 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic).
IMO’s Seafarer Crisis Action Team (established in the IMO Secretariat and working with ILO ITF, ICS and other industry NGOS), has been engaging diplomatically with individual countries regarding specific cases that have been brought to the attention of IMO.




Do we agree that Port Authorities are Moving from cargo hub to digital hubs ?


Absolutely, the current extraordinary conditions caused by the pandemic has accelerated the overall digital transformation of the port authorities across the world. The reliance on digital services to run their basic day-to-day services or to collaborate with their customers or stakeholders is a reality today.




When you talk about innovation, where do you seek it? how can you keep being innovative in the ports sector?


We identify bottlenecks, and engage with our customers to understand their pain points. I beleive that if we review matters from our customers perspective, we're halfway to the solution. It is also important to provide tailor made solutions to fit our customer needs rather than blindly applying global best practices.




Can we use BlockChain for the Transparent data flow across the ports


The use of Blockchain is still fairly new in the industry, and many ports are now experimenting with the concept. The potential benefits from having a more integrated and trusted global trade network are endless, and Blockchain can be the vehicle for this to be achieved. That being said, the use of blockchain is still not widely accepted, and all the key players must actively participate in order for the industry to move to the next level.




Why should ports be the developers of ICT solutions and not leave this to the market to do that? should ports not just be facilitators in stead of developing something the markets can do?


At Abu Dhabi Ports, our main objective is to facilitate trade. Furthermore, the systems that have been developed in-house such as the PCS (Port Community System) allow stakeholders and customers across the supply chain to interact in a single window, i.e. facilitating the end to end customer journey when it comes to import and export process.
Digitalisation plays a fundamental role across Abu Dhabi Ports, our core belief is that the future of our industry lies in the digital transformation, with many global ports and terminal operators having reported an increase in their container throughput, and with so many stakeholders present along the entire value chain, digital infrastructure is essential in tracking and sharing data.




How important is flexibility to the future of port operations?


Technology will help stakeholders (public and private) to automate 80% of the operations. This will enable themi to focus on the exceptions. We will probably see a shift in flexibility whereas bigger players go for the automated part and startups can fill the gaps and cover exception management. Tech will help us to move towards the smartport idea of a seemless supply chain.




Question to Mr. De Wide. Does the CPU initiative come with higher risks for smuggling illicit material or evading customs? How do you ensure that digital solutions don't compromise security and customs regulations?


A digital import process will bring efficiency gains, but also visibility for increased security. Not only on the position of the cargoes will be visibile but also an audittrail will make it clear who is controling the shipment.




What is the view on blockchain development as part of a more reliable and efiicient way of data sharing in the port industry? And what is required to get blockchain working?


Blockchain is in some particular areas a part of the solution. What is needed in first instance is the application of standards (we have standards in shipping but they are not applied). We have some customers using data from the Nxport platform in combination with apps using blockchain. This works. A shipment is a chain of events, dataflow and shipment go together. To have all involved willing to invest or to pay for the use of blockchain is going to take a while. Technology again is not the issue, it works, it is the mindshift which is much needed.




In terms of $, what is the estimated cost vs return generated by the port connect system?


There is not an asnwer on the shelf for this one, as any port/company will need to set the service and security levels. A secure, scalable and mature product is a heavy investment. The adoptation within a traditional industry is slow.




What is the possibility of having a single platform for information which will be shared between different ports?


Thanks for this question. This is exactly what Nxtport is doing today. We host white labeled communities for ports on our platform. Each one having its owen marketplace in which applications from the main platform 'www.nxtport.com' are shared with other communities. A community can be a port, industrial are or even a company. With a single connection to the Nxtport platform (or SSO) companies can be a data user or data provider. IPCSA started on July 1st with a neutral NoTN platform (powered by Nxtport) on which 70 ports will share data on a A2A level.




Data thrust is something people are ready for provided cybersecurity is part of it. How do you secure it in a Network of Networks?


Indeed, our main focus and investments in 2020 (and the years ahead) is to have a secure environment and data is stored in the vaults of our customers. We have regular PEN testing, ethical hacking sessions, code reviews etc. Together with Port of Antwerp we have a cybersecurity team available. Training and awareness are important in a preventing loss of data or uncontrolled acces. The port has been appointed as critical digital infrastructure by the Governement. The NIS directive applies. First step is to work according to ISO27001 standards.




These sort of discussions get to be really frustrating. Geert has always pointed out that all of this is technically possible. It is not a matter of "Will"... let's be real, it is a matter of commercial incentive. What can you do to make a Vehicle Booking System operator and a Customs organisation and a Terminal Operator to give us their data when their business model is to keep it in their silo?


Collaboration is essential. We have organised multiple co-creation sessions in which all stakeholders have an equal vote. I agree it takes time and is frustrating. Nevertheless we managed to get some 28 use cases life on a community level. We have heard in many discussions that a Port Authority has to oblige companies to share data. This will now happen for the first time in Antwerp. So a combination of co-creation and obliged use once the infrastructure is ready to handle this.




Do you foresee a highly collaborative supply chain with local “information” sharing environments glued together through digital platforms?


Yes I believe we will see in some sectors data sharing on an E2E basis, using different platform exchaning data. Eventualy this should not start with a shipment but with a purchase order of a buyer. As such platform can be an enabeler for synchormodal transportation which will enable us to reduce the time to market, CO2 and become. better planners to gain efficiency.




All ports in the Hamburg Le Havre range are big competitors. How do port of Hamburg and Port of Antwerp see data sharing work while at the same time competing big time for cargo?


Datasharing on a platform does not mean you see everything from everybody. Data is stored in a vault which is only accesible to the one holding the digital key. So if ports want to share data, they can without establishing new interface. To share the technology and single access for all stakeholders is the main purpose of using a platform.




Question to all - Where do you foresee the next security threat to your port coming from? how is your port's critical physical infrastructure prepared to address it? the pandemic has raised other issues related to security in the operations. Is connectivity now more important then ever?


We have seen a rise in attempts duing the Covid-19 lockdown. Our main focus and investments in 2020 (and the years ahead) is to have a secure environment. Data is stored in vaults of our customers. We have regular PEN testing, ethical hacking sessions, code reviews etc. Together with Port of Antwerp we have a cybersecurity team available. Training and awareness are important in a preventing loss of data or uncontrolled acces. The port has been appointed as critical digital infrastructure by the Governement. The NIS directive applies. First step is to work according to ISO27001 standards.




What about PCS at EU level. Is it realistic?


The PCS at the EU level will not be necessary if all the PCS could work as a network. The initiative of Network of the trusted Network (NoTN) by International Port Community System Association (IPCSA) is therefore established to realise the vision of networked PCS to facilitate the data sharing without centralisation of the systems. This concept will allow the exchanges of data in a trusted and harmonised environment where the port stakeholders could benefit from it, no matter what PCS they will be using or connecting.

Through this initiative, different stakeholders would be able to explore the power of the data exchange, test and pilot at the international scale.




Dear all did you start using blockchain in the supply chain and logistic?


We have a limit number of use cases in which blockhain is used. The cost foor maintance and adoptation by customers in a very traditional industry is the main reason why it remains not an easy ride. For all use cases we have seen so far, there are alternatives which do work, provide the needed security and audit trails and are more cost effective.




The discussion has been predominantly on supply chain, which is interesting and relevant. But what about environmental sustainability issues regarding port landside operational activities and hinterland connection/


While seagoing vessels are under the legislation of international law, the port landside operational activities and hinterland connection are under national or local legislation. It means that in every port different legal frameworks and different standards and targets are in place.
In the port of Hamburg, as the heart of the city, the sustainable development of the hinterland operations is of particular relevance. The main goal is to reach a common understanding in the entire community (including port stakeholders, business, government and society) to creating sustainable added value for the city and the whole region.
One effective way of achieving the climate targets in Hamburg is the change in the modal split. Therefore, we strongly concentrate on reducing activities in the truck traffic and strengthening the railway.
The enlargement of the shore power supply in the port of Hamburg, the use of drones, the organization of intelligent transport projects such as green4transport, block movements for trucks and an intelligent lighting process, or the test field for the new 5G technology are just some of the projects with which we have started to achieve higher efficiency and therefore a more ecological port landside operational activities.
Also in this case, data exchange plays a key role within the port by improving and accelerating the overall traffic flow in a sustainable manner. The IAPH represents in this regard a good platform for sharing experience, best practice examples and develop common approaches.




How have digitalized ports make themselves ready for the cyber attack? Have any actions been taken in the present ports?


The HPA is aware of the new reality of constant and increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. The existing strategies and AI-based tools for early detection of cyber attacks and for defence are constantly being improved. Furthermore, there is a regular exchange with partners about current threats and possible countermeasures. To this end, the HPA is in regular contact with ports, especially within the framework of chainPORT and, at regional level, with port-related companies and authorities (BSI, BMI, etc.). Technical and organisational measures (e.g. according to ISO 27001) are provided to secure digital business processes. This increases the resilience of the existing IT infrastructure against possible cyber attacks and reduces the impact on the HPA and its partners.

Currently, Digitalized Ports leverage heavily on secure technology solutions and services that maximize their operational resilience. Ports implement robust Information Security, Risk Management and Business Continuity programs and architectures to shield their operations from potential cyber attacks and maximise their readiness to respond to any threats. The existing continuity capabilities are continuously tested for readiness and the protection programs are permanently reviewed to ensure their alignment to the current cyber threat environments.