Ghost Ships - What happens when ships become data?

Found this well written article very relevant especially this section:

Data standards would make a difference: if information could be exchanged in a predictable format, companies could share it electronically. These standards do exist, but there are also significant barriers to their adoption. In 2015, the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) published a set of data models that lay out definitions and specifications for trade documents, designed to be encoded in data exchange formats such as JSON or XML. If a trading partner knows how information will be formatted, it can design a computer system to interpret that data without human intervention. Data standards aren’t unlike the shipping container itself: once everyone agreed on the box’s dimensions, containers could be swapped in and out without any need for discussion. Likewise, if everyone agrees to use the same data standards, information can be handed over as easily as a shipping container moves from cargo hold to truck chassis.

The existing guidelines are complex, however—they have to be, in order to account for every possible use—and require a fairly high level of technical proficiency to implement. There’s no single organization or governing body with enough heft to impose standards on the entire industry. Some countries, industry groups, and regulators are concerned about electronic fraud. In some jurisdictions, laws need to be revised to permit electronic documentation. And some carriers and container lines are reluctant to make their data available to competitors because, while standardization could benefit the industry as a whole, individual companies’ data represents a potentially valuable asset. Standards, in other words, are inflexible, and the world of global trade is a chaos of variables.


It helps to read challenges written out so plainly and empathically!