The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has, in May 2022, updated its Facilitation (FAL) Convention which will make the single window for data exchange mandatory in ports around the world. This marks a significant step in the acceleration of digitalization in shipping. These updates to the 1965 FAL Convention make it mandatory for ports to use single window systems for the digital exchange of information in a secure, efficient and authenticated way for the arrival, stay and departure of ships in ports.
These measures, other than bringing about productivity gains and lowering of business costs, also aid supply chain resiliency (which was an issue during the pandemic) and improve transparency in shipping.
While port operators and customs authorities have been familiarising themselves with single window systems, other stakeholders such as port users must now prepare to go digital in order to execute movements in port. This preparation process includes implementing IT systems, adopting the revised datasets for use with such single windows, enabling communication systems in order to transmit and receive data digitally and of course capacity building for its personnel.
Digital systems also have their own set of challenges including data protection and cybersecurity - issues that the shipping industry is becoming familiar with. However, the writing is clearly on the wall - in order to use ports around the world, port users will need to submit data through the single windows.