AI Pilot Project for Halifax

BlueNode and Saab have started a project to use an AI tool to enhance shipping data for the Port of Halifax.

Originally posted by WorldCargo News on Apr 12, 2021 by Paul Avery

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC), a federally supported industry-led collaboration group created to drive innovation in the ocean and maritime sectors, is providing funding to support a port data integration and enhancement project in Halifax.

The total value of the project is C$3.2M, with $1.1M coming from the OSC. The project is being led by a new AI company called BlueNose, together with Saab Technologies, the National Research Council and the Port of Halifax Authority.

In October 2020 the Port of Halifax awarded Saab a contract to supply its Port Management Information System (PMIS) to automate the planning and execution of harbour management and operational services. At the time Captain Allan Gray, President and CEO of the Halifax Port Authority said the port “expects the PMIS to the single source of information and transform our business.”

The new Port Integration and Enhancement of Data (PIED) project will see BlueNode’s BNData application integrated with Saab’s PIMS to enhance and improve the shipping data PIMS and other applications rely on. There is no integration at this stage with the TOS applications used at the port’s container terminals.

In an interview with WorldCargo News Louis Beaubien, Co-Founder and CEO of BlueNode, said shipping data is often incomplete and/or inconsistent across the systems used at the port today. In particular the way the port receives and records cargo manifest data is different across applications, and the rules and precedents around how data is recorded rely extensively on individuals exercising judgement about what to record and how to record it.

To address this BlueNode has developed a machine learning-powered solution that automates data integration, cleansing, and analysis of shipping data. Beaubien explained the BNData takes data from vessel manifests, AIS systems, trucking and rail data, Transport Canada and Customs, plus other “local” data and that is then completed and cleaned using its AI application to produce a “single source of the truth”.

As an example of how this works, Beaubien cited cargo manifest data. BlueNode is now working on an 8-month process of examining errors in manifest commodity codes and cargo descriptions and teaching the machine learning system to correct these. At the moment port and Customs officials do a lot of this work manually, and only a small number of people understand and manage that process. BNData, he continued will “learn” all of that knowledge and codify it in a correction engine.

With regard to the commercial arrangements around the Halifax project, the Port Authority has a subscription and licence agreement with BlueNode for BNData. As a lot of new functionality is being developed collaboratively, with the support of OSC funding, there is a separate IP agreement covering these developments. Beaubien added that the development work also takes into account new standards, such as those being developed by the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) for container track and trace.

The project is an important part of the Port of Halifax’s digitalisation strategy.

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