IMO is reviewing standards for ship/port data exchange and electronic messages during its first virtual regular committee session, brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic
IMO’s Facilitation (FAL) Committee is meeting in its 44th session, but its first online, from 28 September to 2 October to discuss standardisation and harmonisation of maritime processes.
Top of the agenda is revising a critical instrument to accelerate digitalisation in shipping business, particularly in the ship/port interface.
This committee is also discussing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on facilitation and possible amendments to the FAL Convention to minimise the impact of any future pandemic.
Also, on the agenda is the development of guidance to address maritime corruption.
IMO has prioritised development of digitalisation and electronic data exchange in maritime. The importance of this approach has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as has the need for automation and digitalisation to ensure supply chains continue to function safely and effectively, with contactless clearance of ships in and out of ports
Since April last year, it has been mandatory under IMO’s FAL Convention for ships and ports to exchange arrival and departure data electronically.
But, there needs to be standardisation and harmonisation of data exchange and procedures for stay and departure of ships, which is mandatory under the FAL Convention.
One of the key topics under discussion this week during the FAL Committee remote sessions is finalising the revised version of the IMO Compendium.
This is a technical reference manual for software developers within the relevant public authorities.
It sets out to harmonise the data elements requested by the various public authorities and standardise the electronic messages.
This revision will impact future ship/port data exchanges and electronic messaging, potentially requiring equipment or software upgrades.
The Facilitation Committee is the first virtual regular session of an IMO Committee.
It involves remote simultaneous interpretation into IMO’s six official languages over four meeting sessions, each scheduled to last three hours.
There is also a working group running simultaneously in another virtual platform, to finalise the IMO Compendium.
IMO is encouraging the industry to adopt digitalisation technology and standardising electronic data exchange through its FAL Convention and working groups. However, there is not unanimous support from its member states.
In June 2020, only 49 of the 174 member states of IMO had introduced functioning port community systems, with the rest still relying on personal interaction and paper-based transactions for shipboard, ship/port interface and port/hinterland-based exchanges.
IMO thinks this puts many thousands of people at risk of contracting Covid-19, which would be avoided with electronic data exchange.
Facilitation Committee 44th session was opened by IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim and is being chaired by Marina Angsell (Sweden’s representative).
Data exchange and maritime industry digitalisation will be discussed during Riviera Maritime Media’s various Webinar Weeks and Virtual Conferences during Q4 2020 - use this link to view further details of programmes and to register for events