© Olivier Le Moal |digitisationjpg
© Olivier Le Moal

IATA’s effort to create a standard for a single record of a shipment that can be used by all parties along the supply chain is going full throttle, according to the association’s head of digital cargo, Henk Mulder.

The ONE Record initiative aims to take digitisation to the next level by creating a standard for data sharing.

It allows the creation of a single record view of a shipment through a standardised and secured web API. This will specify a standard structure for data exchange (using JSON-LD to facilitate data integration with existing and new data services), API parameters for system connection and security.

Under this scheme, data stays at the source and the owner determines who has access to it. The use of a web API facilitates the direct connectivity between all stakeholders

“Airlines are fully engaged in development and testing,” reported Mr Mulder.

He added that eight international carries, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Air Canada are running pilot programmes with some of their IT and supply chain partners. Altogether 25 companies are involved in the pilots.

“Our aim is to increase this to 100 companies at least in 2020,” he said.

During the past year, the ONE Record specifications were adopted as recommended practice by the Cargo Service Conference and published on the public GitHub. Six pilot schemes were launched to validate and improve standards, implement the designated technology and work on the connectivity with their partners as well as between different pilots.

A new group was formed to develop modern cargo distribution standards for a standard industry API and data model that can be used by airlines and solution providers like Cargo.one or IATA Net Rates.

Mr Mulder stressed that the European Union was also on board, through a consortium with the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Italy and Spain, under a project called ‘FEDeRATED’.

“The purpose of this consortium is to develop recommendations for connecting freight platforms using technology like ONE Record which serves as a reference for these developments,” he explained.

Some industry observers have questioned the relevance of the ONE Record drive, in light of the emergence of the Single Window scheme being adopted by a growing number of jurisdictions. The EU has embraced it, and the US as well as Canada are working towards its adoption.

“Single window is for all modes – air, truck etc. This will make ONE Record redundant,” one industry executive commented.

“It probably does render ONE Record obsolete,” said Brandon Fried, executive director of the US Airforwarders’ Association. “Still, IATA should be applauded for pushing governments to go in this direction.”

However, Mr Mulder disagrees.

“Single Window is a national solution for reporting regulatory data to governments. This is only a small part of what needs to happen; ie, B2A and A2B (A=administration).

“ONE Record focuses on B2B, A2B and B2A. More especially, ONE Record connects any entity, not just platforms like Single Window. A likely scenario is that, at least in the EU, governments will embrace the ONE Record data-sharing approach which will allow them to create decentralised virtual single windows. Through the FEDeRATED project, ONE Record is likely to be the first B2B. B2A and A2B standard. No Single Window has that scope or objective,” he commented.

“Single window has been implemented by the EU and through the FEDeRATED project we are aligning with that. The same alignment will work with other Single Window implementations around the world,” he continued.

IATA has a slew of projects for 2020 to drive ONE Record forward. These include the expansion of the data model to include airline distribution, ULD tracking and eCMR for road feeder services; the deployment of Identity and Authentication Providers to register and authenticate ONE Record servers around the world; the deployment of a ONE Record developer platform for distributing specifications, API etc; the design and architecture phase of the FEDeRATED project with the EU; and a communications programme for the deployment of the scheme.

“There is pressure for rapid digitalisation of the air cargo logistics and supply chain,” he said. “Speed of development and deployment is our biggest challenge.”

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