CHOOS­ING THE RIGHT DIG­I­TAL STRAT­EGY

The very syne­sis of a Port Com­mu­nity Sys­tem is that it should be a neu­tral and open plat­form en­abling in­tel­li­gent and se­cure ex­change of in­for­ma­tion to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency and com­pet­i­tive po­si­tion of the port com­mu­ni­ties. Glob­ally, Port Com­mu­nity Syste

Maritime Gateway - - Contents - Sisir Prad­han

The very syne­sis of a Port Com­mu­nity Sys­tem is that it should be a neu­tral and open plat­form en­abling in­tel­li­gent and se­cure ex­change of in­for­ma­tion to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency and com­pet­i­tive po­si­tion of the port com­mu­ni­ties. Glob­ally, Port Com­mu­nity Sys­tems are man­aged and main­tained by op­er­a­tors who are neu­tral, in­de­pen­dent, and a trusted third party.

About two years ago Min­istry of Ship­ping ap­proached ports and ter­mi­nals for data on in­ter­na­tional trans­ship­ment of goods in In­dia. It took two months for com­pi­la­tion of data from var­i­ous ports. How­ever, after cre­ation of fi­nal MIS it was found that there was a mis­match of data in terms of the trans­ship­ment cargo vol­ume pro­vided by ports, ter­mi­nals and ship­ping lines. The rea­son for the in­con­sis­tency was due to dif­fer­ent meth­ods of com­put­ing the data. It re­mains a chal­lenge for the pol­icy mak­ers to gather re­li­able and con­sis­tent in­for­ma­tion about the trade for key pol­icy de­ci­sions. Such sit­u­a­tion could eas­ily be avoided by im­ple­men­ta­tion of PCS bring­ing in stan­dard­iza­tion in the in­dus­try. An ef­fec­tive MIS would lead to bet­ter an­a­lyt­ics of sit­u­a­tion, thus faster res­o­lu­tion of var­i­ous in­her­ent is­sues.

The PCS jug­ger­naut

While PCS 1x or PCS+ is in progress, at the same time at in­sti­tu­tional level most of the ma­jor stake­hold­ers like ship­ping lines, ports, cus­toms etc have their own pro­pri­etary web-based plat­forms for data/in­for­ma­tion ex­change, and if we look in the con­text of im­port, a ship­per has to visit 3-4 dif­fer­ent por­tals of var­i­ous agen­cies apart from phys­i­cal vis­its be­fore he fi­nally takes de­liv­ery of cargo. Strik­ing a bal­ance is also a chal­lenge for the suc­cess of PCS be­cause it looks to bring in trans­parency but at the same time there are some strate­gic com­pet­i­tive in­for­ma­tion that com­pa­nies might not like to dis­close. More­over, dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion has not re­duced the cost for freight for­warders and spend­ing per move has not come down for them. There is a need for dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion to move be­yond data cap­tur­ing to chang­ing the way trans­ac­tion is done. An ideal PCS should fo­cus on in­cre­men­tal data and not just rep­e­ti­tion of data.

No­tably, in­dus­try vet­eran

Sailesh Bha­tia

dur­ing his ten­ure as Pres­i­dent of AMTOI un­der the aegis of FILA mooted the idea of a port com­mu­nity plat­form. Clar­i­fy­ing the role and se­cu­rity as­pect of PCS, Sailesh Bha­tia, ex­plained, “Even though each en­tity have their pro­pri­etary ap­pli­ca­tion but PCS doesn’t repli­cate it. PCS rather works like a PBX box which acts as a con­nec­tor without it be­ing able to lis­ten to the con­ver­sa­tion. In sim­i­lar man­ner for a PCS to work doesn’t re­quire it to store data, and it only pro­vides the con­nec­tiv­ity to share the in­for­ma­tion. Even in cur­rent struc­ture all stake­hold­ers are ex­chang­ing data be­tween each other but that nec­es­sar­ily doesn’t mean cap­tur­ing of in­for­ma­tion.”

Though there are ap­pre­hen­sions about in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity on PCS, but in­dus­try lead­ers clar­ify that if it is work­able in other coun­tries, why not in In­dia! Some of the good ex­am­ples of port com­mu­nity sys­tems in places like Rot­ter­dam or Felixs­towe, where a large ecosys­tem has in­te­grated into the lo­cal plat­form to se­curely ex­change their data in or­der to stream­line their oper­a­tions.

Con­nect­ing the dots

In the ex­ist­ing model due to ex­is­tence of var­i­ous por­tals, iden­ti­cal data is keyed mul­ti­ple times into var­i­ous plat­forms which adds

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