‘Digitally savvy and with all the right components’ – Port St Maarten joins International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA)

06 January 2020

The International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) has welcomed its very first member in the Caribbean region – Port St Maarten.

A digitalisation pioneer in the Caribbean ports sector, Port St Maarten has seen double-digit growth in cargo volumes over the past two years and has just introduced its own bespoke Port Community System (PCS).

After Hurricane Irma struck in 2017, total cargo at the port was up 20 per cent in 2018 and included a record-breaking 100,000 teu. Full container imports rose 24 per cent and transhipment cargo rose eight per cent, demonstrating the increasing importance of the port as a hub for the region.

Cargo volumes are projected to show a similar double digit increase for the full year 2019. This growth has prompted business partners in stevedoring, trucking and logistics to invest considerable sums in new equipment to deliver more efficiency and faster cargo turnround times for customers.

The launch in December 2019 of Port St Maarten’s new PCS is a vital part of the picture as the port continues to grow. Port St Maarten has worked with ITPartner to develop the PCS, which has been created as an extension of the port’s Terminal Operating System (TOS).

“From a global point we are digitally savvy, and we have all the right components to join IPCSA,” said Port St Maarten Management Roger Lawrence, who is currently overseeing in the interim all chief executive decisions. “We are really proud to be approved as the first member in the Caribbean – this is a great accomplishment.”

Joining IPCSA is an important step in sharing best practice and understanding how others have developed their PCSs in order to ‘perfect our way forward’, he added.

“We started with our TOS more than ten years ago and were able to accumulate a lot of big data over the years, in order to have better decision-making. We have carried out a great deal of analysis of that information gathered and created actionable intelligence. We have been at the forefront of digitalisation – it was always part of our approach.”

The new PCS is a data-sharing portal covering cargo and cruise operations for key stakeholders and third parties. It will allow the relevant and approved parties, such as agents, to connect to a secure cloud-based system which will enhance information sharing.

“The primary focus is on sustainable business development for the port community, together with information data centric sharing with Customs, Coast Guard, Maritime Affairs, Immigration and Border Protection, Public Health and possibly other government entities,” said Roger Lawrence. “Our PCS allows for one central system that connects all stakeholders. It is a real-time platform, making it easy to access vital information and quality data and can also provide economic data to be used for analysis and government policy decision-making.”

Current services provided by the PCS include Vessel Call, Crew List, Passenger List, Manifest, Integration with TOS and Health Declaration. The system is designed to be flexible and will be updated to include additional services to meet demand.

Port St Maarten plans to take a proactive role as a member of IPCSA, including through the association’s working groups, on topics such as Standards and Technology, Single Window/Trade Facilitation, and Community System Development.

“Joining IPCSA is a key part of our vision,” said Roger Lawrence. “We look forward to sharing best practices and learning from other likeminded destinations / organisations, which is key to our continued growth and forward-thinking mindset.”

Richard Morton, secretary general of IPCSA, said: “We are delighted to welcome Port St Maarten, our first member in the Caribbean. Port St Maarten has a strong record as a leader in digitalisation and PCS development in the region and as an organisation we pride ourselves in sharing knowledge and expertise across our membership.”