Amsterdam Airport is preparing to take full ownership of the data exchange system, Cargonaut, which will be upgraded to a genuine data platform. The umbrella organization, Air Cargo
Netherlands (ACN), expects that the business community can be involved, says Managing Director Maarten van As.
The concept is not seen as a role model for Brussels Airport.
Over the last few months, the airport has been acquiring shares, even if the process has been put on the back burner due to the corona crisis. In its original set-up, Cargonaut was owned by different parties in the AMS air cargo community, among which KLM. The airport itself did not participate at the time, says Mr. van As. He points out that the new concept is a result of a government-steered wider scheme.
Customs Authorities’ objections
A few months ago, the responsible Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management unveiled its digital agenda, setting out the map involving the seaports - Rotterdam mainly, and Schiphol. The data exchange system of the Port of Rotterdam, Portbase, is entirely owned by the Port Authority.
“It is part of a triangular data exchange model, Cargonaut and the Customs Authorities being the other parties. As a government agency Customs have argued that they are not able nor allowed to exchange data with a system that has private shareholders,” explains the ACN Chief.
CFG: Does the AMS cargo business community endorse this concept?
MvA: “As ACN, we know that Schiphol had some difficulties in taking the next step from basic data exchange between parties to a data platform, especially concerning the way it should be managed. With the airport as the owner, this upgraded Cargonaut will put the data at the disposal of the community.”
“Transferring Cargonaut to Schiphol has a lot of advantages as well. The airport already runs quite a lot of IT-systems. On the other hand, the business community is in constant liaison with Cargonaut and the airport on the creation of a Business Advisory Board, so that our interests can be safeguarded. We take a positive view on the new style Cargonaut, as it will provide closer ties with the government and will hopefully lead to more means being made available.”
No inspiration for BRUcloud
The Cargonaut model of a fully owned data platform does not inspire other airports. Brussels Airport is supported by the data platform, BRUcloud, developed by Nallian. Its concept is entirely different and most satisfactory, CFG learned from Director Cargo & Logistics at Brussels Airport, Steven Polmans (SP), and Nallian CEO, Jean Verheyen (JV).
CFG: What is the difference between Cargonaut and BRUcloud?
SP: “Cargonaut was conceived as one closed system, whereas BRUcloud is an open ecosystem to which several systems and parties can contribute, provided they can bring added value, in whatever way. This can be via data, financially or by offering a solution for our community. So we are not necessarily saying it is better, but the idea behind it is different. In Brussels, rather than owning the system, we prefer to take the lead in it on behalf of the community but at the same time see it as a shared responsibility.”
JV: “BRUcloud is a concept that reconciles two distinct roles. First there is the issue of technology and the operational provider. You have to create economies of scale by avoiding parallel development costs, and you have to unlock data for end2end requirements by making the system as easy and open as possible from a technical point of view.”
“Governance is the second issue. You want to set priorities for the local situation and needs, by judging which processes and apps must be implemented. There is also the aspect of management and facilitation of the relationship with the local authorities (Customs, food agency and phytosanitary). You should also be able to steer behavior according to the stick and carrot principle: who should be granted access to which data and apps, and on which conditions?”
“The fulfilment of both roles comes together in BRUcloud, in a long-term collaboration agreement in which the management and governance are cared for by the local authority - the airport - working together with representatives of the users (Air Cargo Belgium). The technical exploitation has been subcontracted to Nallian.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
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