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IMO Symposium: Navigating the Benefits and Challenges of Maritime Single Windows

From January 2024 onwards, a Single Window for Maritime data exchange (MSW) will be mandatory in ports worldwide, a significant step in accelerating digitalisation in shipping. Public authorities must establish, maintain and use single window systems for the electronic exchange of information required on arrival, stay, and departure of ships in ports. 

In addition, public authorities will have to combine or coordinate the electronic transmission of the data to ensure that information is submitted or provided only once and reused to the maximum extent possible.

Further reading below 👇

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IMO Symposium - Maritime Single Window 2024

Visma Connect provided the software for the Dutch Single Window for Maritime and Air. That’s why we participated in the IMO Maritime Single Window 2024 symposium on 18 and 19 January 2023. Visma Connect built the Dutch Single Window for Maritime and Air on behalf of Logius, Customs, the Ministry of Defence, and Rijkswaterstaat (Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management).

5 Takeaways

Here are our five takeaways from the symposium:

  1. Streamline first, digitise next to prevent digitising bad practices. Make sure to use KPIs to get real insights into stakeholders' business processes so that they can identify bottlenecks. Following this approach, the average handling time can drop dramatically, as Warsama Guirreh, General Manager of Djibouti Port Community System, pointed out. By reporting once to the Maritime Single Window, authorities can share that information between themselves and - if applicable - with the private sector. Maritime Single Windows improve information quality and speed up the clearance process. In some cases, Djibouti port authorities reduced the clearance process to one hour instead of seventeen.
  2. Digitisation goes hand in hand with decarbonisation. Now ships are laying idle due to lack of information. What you want is just-in-time arrival to bring down fuel usage.
  3. Philippe Duchesne, Senior Project Officer for Reporting Formalities at the European Commission, saw benefits in the built-in adherence to GDPR rules. A Maritime Single Window only shares information with people authorised to access it. Information on paper tends to scatter around. MSWs use data encryption, and the same rules apply in information exchange between MSWs, like in Safe Sea Net. So proper data protection is then possible.
  4. David Foo, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Operations Technology), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, mentioned that the port of Singapore used the introduction of the Maritime Single Window to switch from on-prem IT to the cloud. They had lower costs due to pay-per-use and scaling possibilities and increased cyber security.
  5. The implementation of a Maritime Single Window takes time and requires endurance.

One size does not fit all. Sometimes the Maritime Single Window is a standalone system; it can also be part of an integrated national system, an international conglomerate, or a Port Community System. Port authorities can use a Single Window for just one task: distributing FAL forms (Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic) to the entitled authorities. A Single Window can also benefit parties in the private sector with added services.

While implementing a single window, stakeholder management is critical. It’s essential to have a shared vision and shared goals. The lead organisation must ensure that all stakeholders endorse and pursue the vision and goals. And, if the stakeholders trust each other, data sharing other than FAL formalities can be a logical next step.

So, start with a clear vision, then do Proof of Concepts as soon as possible to test the assumptions of some processes: does it work as planned? Fail fast is the Agile mantra, and the advice is to keep that in mind whilst implementing.

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