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1) April 2023 -- Maritime Transportation Data Initiative report -- executive summary

This report is being issued from Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel. In November 2021, Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Daniel B. Maffei requested Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel to examine the issue of data and maritime commerce. The focus of the project was two-fold: 1) to catalog the status quo in maritime data elements, metrics, transmission, and access, and 2) to identify key gaps in data definitions/classification and utilization. The goal was to develop recommendations for common data standards and lexicon and access policies/protocols.   

This became known as the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI).  The process included 18 weekly meetings with every aspect of the maritime/intermodal supply chain, ultimately involving 80 different participants. These events were livestreamed via the internet and were supplemented by an open comment process, and additional meetings with a wide range of international and federal stakeholders and other pertinent parties. The MTDI culminated with a Data Summit held on June 1, 2022, that included the full participation by MTDI representatives. A summation document was prepared by FMC staff following the Summit.
 
In November 2022, a draft document conveying the preliminary recommendations from the MTDI was shared with all MTDI participants as well as other interested parties to review and provide comments helpful to formulating a set of final recommendations on implementation of a track and trace methodology for the U.S. maritime supply chain. These track and trace events are separated and identified in specific proposed recommendations that can be found in the Appendix (1.0-1.4).   

1.0 General Reporting Requirements
1.1 Ocean Carriers Requirements
1.2  Marine Terminal Operations Requirements
1.3 Port Operations Requirements and Recommendations  
1.4 Intermodal Rail Requirements     
 
The final recommendations generated through the MTDI process call for the establishment of the Maritime Data Transportation Data System (MDTS). In broad terms the MDTS would: establish a system of information on planned ocean carrier voyages, information on vessels transits with real-time position of vessels and real-time estimates of arrival, harmonization of standards for public information related to terminal access for cargo retrieval and standardize the method of charactering cargo status for cargo retrieval from MTOs. The recommendation also proposes to extend similar in-transit visibility and terminal status information requirement to intermodal rail carriers servicing ocean carrier shipments.  
 
This final recommendation also addresses transparency, ease of access, and coordination of information concerns. The wide variety of carriers, terminals, and affiliated services providers (e.g., drayage trucking intermodal equipment providers, warehousing, distribution centers, offsite depots) and unique market and geographical considerations ensures that almost every port complex is unique in operations and the process of coordinating the thousands of companies doing business at a port. As such, the MTDS recommendation would recognize the role of the port authority in providing public access to ensure that they provide information from ocean carriers servicing the port, MTO’s operating at the port, and intermodal rail carriers servicing ocean carrier intermodal shipments through the port, as well as other general port-wide information such as that related to scheduling berthing/pilotage, and other port-wide operating conditions. Additionally, the recommendation for the MTDS proposes that the FMC issue voluntary guidelines on potential activities surrounding intermodal services activities impacting intermodal ports.  

MTDI: https://www.fmc.gov/fmc-maritime-transportation-data-initiative/
 
2) Aug 16 -- The Federal Maritime Commission (Commission) seeks public comment on questions related to maritime data transmission, accessibility, and accuracy. Information received in response to this request will supplement information gathered during the public meetings of the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative and to better inform the Commission about commercial activities. Submit comments on or before October 16, 2023.

Cargo in international trade moves between the control of numerous entities. While some key data elements are readily shared between supply chain participants, the lack of timely and accurate access to some data elements can lead to inefficiencies, as was seen during the COVID–19 pandemic. Additionally, the lack of data standardization reduces the ability to move cargo in an effective way.

Improved communication and data availability could ease the flow of data and potentially provide positive results including fewer and shorter duration instances of congestion; quicker movement of import and export shipments; assessment of fewer storage fees; and a reduction in in cargo holds thereby improving supply chain effectiveness and efficiency.

The purposes of the Shipping Act as stated in 46 U.S.C. 40101 include ensuring an efficient, economical ocean transportation supply system. The data challenges of the supply chain were examined during the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI) led by Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel. A report summarizing the information was released by Commissioner Bentzel in May 2023. The Commission seeks additional information from the shipping public to expand the information gathered from the MTDI sessions and address additional topics related to data availability, accuracy, and exchange.

During the MTDI sessions, Commissioner Bentzel heard comments from many supply chain participants regarding the methods that are used to transmit data between parties involved in moving ocean containers. Participants discussed frequently having to email information regarding the movement and availability of cargo or needing to visit a website to check the status of containers/shipments. In some cases, the only way to know the status of cargo was to call various supply chain service providers and ask for information about specific shipments. These were all presented as examples of common, but inefficient, ways to learn the status of cargo. MTDI session participants also discussed the industry being slow to move to more accurate and efficient methods for data transmission, such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Application Programming Interface (API), which are more timely and often more accurate. To build on the information gathered during these meetings, the Commission is seeking public comments on the following questions related to maritime data transmission, accessibility, and accuracy. The purpose of these questions is to seek information about data sharing practices, not information about specific customers/partners and commenters should not name specific customers/partners when responding. The Commission has segmented the questions into categories specific to certain stakeholders but is also interested in hearing from the public who may respond to all of the questions.

Transportation Service Providers (e.g., Ocean Carriers, Marine Terminal Operators (MTOs), Licensed Motor Carriers (LMCs), Railroad Operators Who Transport International Maritime Cargo)

1. What are the largest barriers that currently exist that prevent you from sharing data with shippers/Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCOs)?

2. How much effort and/or cost would it take to adapt your existing computer systems to be able to share more data with shippers/BCOs?

3. What concerns do you have about providing additional data to shippers/BCOs?

4. What are your preferred means to provide data to shippers/BCOs. (e.g., EDI, API, email)?

5. Are there innovative methods you use for transmitting information with your highest volume shippers/BCOs?

6. What can shippers/BCOs do to better predict container availability, earliest return date, etc.?

7. What data would you be willing to provide openly to the public? What would you only provide to the shipper/BCO/others in the direct supply chain for a container?

8. What data are collected and controlled by other parties in the supply chain that influence your business operations?

Importers/Exporters (e.g., BCOs, Shippers)

1. What are the data points during the shipping process that are least likely to be available/accurate? What are the most accurate and visible data points?

2. What data points are the most important to have accurate and in advance to facilitate planning of service? How often do you receive them accurately and in advance? How are changes communicated to you?

3. What is the best way for you to receive data from carriers/MTOs/etc. (e.g., EDI, API, email)?

4. How do you currently receive data from carriers/MTOs/etc. (e.g., EDI, API, email)?

5. What share of containers do you believe to be available but when you attempt to pick them up, they are not available? What is the cost impact of these delays?

6. What share of containers could you have picked up earlier if you had been notified that they were available earlier? What is the cost impact of these delays?

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-17593 [2 pages]

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