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Just build it: Taking the air cargo data backbone to the next level

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 19, 2017

Just build it: Taking the air cargo data backbone to the next level

 

Just three months after TIACA’s Shippers’ Advisory Committee (SAC) launched its whitepaper, SAC-member Ericsson hosted an inspiring 2-day meeting in Kista, Sweden (Ericsson HQ) to touch on the formation of the Trade and Cargo Facilitation association (TCF) and to deepen the blueprint of the logistics data backbone. The last one presenting a challenging development process for all stakeholders especially within the air cargo sector. Ericsson also showed how the 5G automotive association developments could provide best practice on this issue.

More than 80% of the companies attending in Kista want to be highly engaged to move forward on concrete output on the logistic data backbone. More than 50 companies were present from a wide array of sectors within the supply chain: shippers, carriers, airports, ports, LSP’s, Port Community Systems, developers, academics, associations and representation from the EU were actively engaged in taking the data backbone principles to the next level. Individual Shippers as well as the European Shippers’ Council and the Global Shippers’ Forum were present. ESC also gave a presentation on the EU-led Digital Transport and Logistics Forum and the EU funded CORE project which touch on the same issues within logistics: how to create a seamless data supply chain next to the physical supply chain.

The idea of the backbone (or pipeline) is already known as a concept to many, but still remains just that: a concept. The combination of hardware, software and services that connects trusted users in order to provide secure, fast and reliable data exchange in logistics increases business efficiency, reduces margins of errors and increases safety, is a goal for all. How come we have not reached lift off yet? Passengers already have fully digitalized data when travelling, why not air cargo?

There are several hurdles that need to be taken into account: lack of compatibility of legacy systems, strict oversight from competition authorities, cyber security and privacy issues, compliancy implementation including cost of investments to be made. Issues that would make some hesitant, but as one of the cargo bosses of a major airport said during the meeting: “just build the freaking thing and get on with it”. Indeed, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. To know the effects and the benefits of the data backbone, we need to build and to simply test it: prove theory in practice. This does require a certain amount of determination and spirit of cooperation, which were surely present in Kista. The data backbone is seen by many as a panacea for all problems in air cargo, but also equally challenging.

As an initial step, an open source/open platform was created for all parties to get involved and to just start working on various use cases as soon as possible. Futher meetings have been scheduled. This letter is an open invitation to all TIACA followers to jump in and join us. Let’s keep talking, but also let’s build it and just do it!"

Denis Choumert

European Shippers' Council

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