Posts to appear on the #DidYouKnow section of the website

eFTI: One step closer towards the digitization of European transport

This month, for our #BlueInnovation feature, we thought we would look at Electronic Freight Transport Information – or eFTI for short. The world of transport and logistics is constantly evolving, driven by technological advancements and regulatory changes. In this landscape, eFTI has emerged as a pivotal innovation, reshaping how freight information is shared and managed across Europe. eFTI has the potential to being transformative, promising to streamline processes, enhance transparency, and improve efficiency in the transport sector. As the European Union moves towards more sustainable and digitised transport systems, understanding eFTI becomes crucial for professionals navigating the intermodal, road, air, and rail transport sectors (excluding maritime). This is why we chose to shine a spotlight on the subject.

Understanding eFTI

What is eFTI? The Electronic Freight Transport Information is a European Regulation (eFTI) regulation establishes a legal framework for the exchange of regulatory information related to the transport of goods. It facilitates economic operators, such as companies involved in freight transport and logistics, to share information in an electronic format with judicial authorities. This applies to the transport of goods by road, rail, inland waterway, or air within the European Union. Officially known as Regulation 2020/1056, it was enacted on August 20, 2020 following the recmmeondations of experts in the DTLF group (Data Transport and Logistics Forum). It will be fully applicable and enter into force on August 21, 2024

eFTI represents a significant leap in managing and sharing freight data. At its core, it is a digital system designed to replace paper-based processes in freight transport with electronic alternatives. This shift is not merely about changing the medium of information exchange but also about enhancing the quality, accessibility, and reliability of freight data. “The eFTI Regulation may affect several EU regulations, such as those on combined transport, road cabotage, waste shipment, dangerous goods, aviation safety and rail interoperability, among others” (PierNext, Port de Barcelona).

Traditionally, freight transport information has been heavily reliant on paper documents – a method that, while familiar, is fraught with inefficiencies. Paper documents are easily misplaced, can be slow to process, and often lead to delays and increased administrative burdens. eFTI, by contrast, introduces a streamlined, digital approach. Information is stored and shared electronically, enabling real-time updates, greater transparency, and faster decision-making processes. This digital transformation aligns with broader EU efforts to modernize the transport sector, making it more resilient and efficient.

One of the key technological aspects of eFTI is its interoperability. The system is designed to work seamlessly across various platforms and stakeholders, including transport companies, logistics providers, and regulatory bodies. This compatibility ensures that eFTI can be integrated into existing infrastructures with minimal disruption, facilitating a smoother transition from traditional methods.

Implications for European Transport Professionals

The implementation of eFTI within the European Union carries significant implications for transport professionals. These implications include:

  • Regulatory Compliance: Transport professionals must familiarize themselves with regulations mandating the use of eFTI systems to ensure compliance. This includes understanding the specific data formats required, data sharing protocols, and privacy considerations under EU law. Non-compliance could result in legal repercussions and operational delays.
  • Operational Efficiency: Instant accessibility of data reduces waiting times and speeds up the overall transport process. For logistics companies, this means faster turnaround times and the potential for increased profitability. It also allows for better tracking of goods, improving supply chain visibility and reliability.
  • Training: Transport companies will need get familiarised with the necessary technology and train their staff to adapt to this new system. The challenging aspect of this innovation is that its implementation requires multi-stakeholders agreement to replace the paper documents by electronic data sets. This is why the involvement of governments is critical in its implementation – not only to accept the electronic documents (compulsory as from August 25), but to promote them among the private sector (and potentially even making them compulsory).

 eFTI’s Role in the Maritime Transport Context

The eFTI regulation, due to be fully implemented by August 2024, will streamline information exchange across European transport sectors, except for maritime transport, which is regulated separately by the European Maritime Single Window environment Regulation (EMSWe). While eFTI integrates road, rail, and inland waterway data systems, the EMSWe specifically caters to maritime affairs.

Nevertheless, ports, as multimodal hubs, will still experience indirect impacts from eFTI. Improvements in terrestrial transport data flow could lead to more efficient maritime logistics, particularly in port operations where various transport modes intersect. Professionals in the maritime sector must navigate the EMSWe while acknowledging the complementary role of eFTI within the larger transport ecosystem. The alignment of these digital initiatives is pivotal for advancing a unified, efficient EU transport network.

Concluding thoughts

The eFTI initiative represents more than a mere change in regulation; it is a significant step toward creating a transport ecosystem that is more digital, efficient, and transparent—reflecting the broader shift toward digital transformation in various sectors. It is essential to understand that the eFTI regulation is not just a recommended standard but rather a foundational step in the standardization of digital information across Europe.

Adoption of the eFTI framework by companies as soon as possible is advantageous, as it will substantially alter operational methodologies within the logistics sector. The regulatory framework has been established, and key implementation dates are on the horizon:

  • August 24, 2024: eFTI platforms are eligible to begin their certification process.
  • August 26, 2024: Member State authorities are mandated to start accepting eFTI data.
  • February 29, 2025: The rule mandating the use of eFTI for the private sector will be reconsidered.

In the interim, private entities are encouraged to adopt eFTI protocols, and it is within the purview of individual Member States to enforce eFTI-related obligations within their jurisdictions.

Join us in shaping the future of transport!

We’ve done our research – so should you! Check out our sources below to delve more deeply into the topic:

SOURCES

 

On Track for the Future: Rail Freight in Europe 2024

This month in our #DidYouKnow series, we’re taking a closer look at the dynamic and ever-evolving world of rail transport. Cast your mind back to 2021, hailed as the European Year of Rail. This initiative wasn’t just a ceremonial nod to an old industry; it symbolised a renewed commitment to transforming Europe’s transport landscape. But what has changed since then? How has rail freight adapted and grown in this period? And more importantly, as we look towards 2024, what are the exciting developments and prospects that lie ahead for rail freight in Europe? In this post, we’ll delve into the successes, the challenges, and the innovative strides shaping the future of rail freight, a sector that’s proving to be more than just a link in our supply chains, but a key to sustainable, efficient, and resilient transportation in Europe.

 

Current State of Rail Freight in Europe

Rail freight is becoming increasingly vital in the European transport landscape, especially in the context of ecological sustainability. As part of the European Green Deal, rail freight is identified as a key player in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The goal? To shift a substantial portion of freight from road to rail, aiming for a 30% share of rail in European freight transport by 2030.

Here’s why rail freight stands out:

  • Emission Efficiency: A freight train emits just 24 grams of greenhouse gases per ton transported and kilometre travelled, making it significantly cleaner than road freight. This efficiency is less than one-fifth of the emissions produced by road freight vehicles.
  • E-Mobility Dominance: The rail freight sector is already ahead in e-mobility. The more we take advantage of green electricity, the closer we get to net-zero emissions.
  • Continued Potential for Improvement: As green energy sources become more prevalent, the rail sector’s environmental footprint is poised to reduce even further.

These are some of the factors that underscore the strategic importance of rail in Europe’s transition to a more sustainable transport network.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the prospects of rail freight in Europe are bright, the path is not without its challenges. A crucial aspect of realizing the EU’s ambitious target for rail freight involves addressing the current obstacles and harnessing the emerging opportunities. So let’s have a look at what they are: 

Obstacles to Growth:

  • Infrastructural Variability: The EU member states present a diverse picture in terms of rail freight capabilities. For instance, while Lithuania boasts a rail freight share of 64.7%, Greece lags behind with just 3.2%. Such disparities reflect the varied infrastructural and economic landscapes across the region.
  • Territorial Fragmentation: Perhaps the most significant hurdle is the lack of standardization. In contrast to road transport’s seamless cross-border operations, rail freight often encounters barriers at national borders due to differing technical standards and regulations. This territorial fragmentation hinders the efficiency and attractiveness of rail freight as a pan-European transport solution.

Opportunities for Advancement:

  • Investment in Infrastructure: According to the latest EU report, there’s been significant investment in rail infrastructure. In 2020, EU Member States reported a total funding of €40.65 billion for rail infrastructure. This investment is pivotal in modernizing and harmonizing rail networks across Europe.
  • Electrification of Tracks: The move towards electrification is noteworthy. With varying rates of network electrification across EU countries, there’s substantial scope for expansion, enhancing both the environmental and operational efficiency of rail freight.

Future Outlook and Things to Look Out for in 2024

As we advance into 2024, the rail freight sector in Europe is poised at an exciting juncture, with several developments worth watching:

  • Increased Infrastructure Investment: Ongoing investment in rail infrastructure will continue to be a major focus, aimed at enhancing efficiency and connectivity across the continent.
  • Advancements in Automation and Digitization: The rail freight industry is rapidly embracing technological innovations. Automation in rail operations promises to enhance efficiency and safety, reducing the reliance on manual processes. Digitization, on the other hand, is set to revolutionize the way freight is managed and tracked, offering more transparent, reliable, and efficient logistics solutions. These advancements are not just futuristic concepts; they are becoming tangible realities that are reshaping the landscape of rail freight.
  • Standardization Efforts: The push towards standardization across the EU rail network is expected to gain momentum. This will facilitate smoother cross-border rail freight movement, making it a more attractive option for shippers.
  • Growth in Rail’s Freight Share: With these initiatives and investments, an increase in rail’s share of the overall freight transport market in Europe is anticipated. This growth will be a testament to the sector’s adaptability and commitment to meeting the evolving demands of trade and commerce.

These trends signal a robust future for rail freight, contributing significantly to a more sustainable and interconnected Europe.

Concluding thoughts

As we look towards the future, the significance of rail freight in Europe’s transport network becomes increasingly clear. Since the European Year of Rail in 2021, the journey towards 2024 has been marked by remarkable strides, setting the stage for an even more promising path ahead.

Innovations in rail technology, including automation and digitalization, are set to revolutionize freight transport. These advancements are not just about enhancing efficiency; they’re about reshaping how goods move across Europe. Moreover, the strengthening of supply chain resilience through rail freight is becoming increasingly crucial in a rapidly changing global trade landscape.

The road ahead involves enhanced cooperation among EU nations, key to overcoming the challenge of territorial fragmentation and achieving a truly integrated rail network. This cooperation is vital not only for the internal dynamics of the EU but also for its role in global trade and logistics, where rail freight offers a reliable and efficient alternative to other modes of transport.

In light of these exciting developments, our upcoming course on intermodal freight operations – SURCO Aragón. It’s an opportunity for professionals to gain critical skills in optimising transport operations, balancing cost, time, and environmental considerations, with a special focus on integrating rail for maximum efficiency and sustainability.

Are you ready to be at the forefront of this exciting sector? Explore this edition of our SURCO course in intermodal freight operations (offered in Spanish) and gain the expertise to optimise your transport operations, integrating rail for maximum efficiency and sustainability. 

Join us in shaping the future of transport!

We’ve done our research – so should you! Check out our sources below to delve more deeply into the topic: 

SOURCES 

  1. “The Future of Rail Freight in Europe” – DHL Freight Connections. DHL Freight Connections.
  2. “What has changed in European rail: the highlights of the latest EU report” – RailTech, October 2023. RailTech Article
  3. European Environment Agency. European Environment Agency Website.
  4. European Commission – European Green Deal. European Green Deal Information.
  5. European Commission’s Transport and Mobility Overview. European Commission – Transport.
  6. EU Infrastructure Investment Reports. EU Infrastructure Investment Data.
  7. European Railway Review: Articles and reports on the latest trends and future projections in rail transport within Europe. European Railway Review.

The future begins with the letter “R” for the railway

Written by José Andrés Arribas Navarro, Economist and Manager at FAPROVE

We want to talk about the railway. But before that, I wanted to share a brief preamble.

The easiest thing in life is making decisions. The difficult part is ensuring that these decisions are good. To make good decisions, one must not be swayed by the opinions of those in power, pressure groups, short-sighted interests, or dangerous friendships. You need to be convinced and believe in what you’re proposing. The commitment to these decisions should have a long-term perspective, durability over time, and aim to improve the well-being, optimizing the quality of life for all current stakeholders and even future generations.

This is the essence of nation-building and societal improvement. It’s only after many years that we can fully grasp the significance of such a commitment, understand its true scope, and admire the visionary leader who, despite facing numerous challenges, bravely defended the long-term interests of a nation’s citizens against the self-serving and detrimental interests of a privileged few.

I mention this reflection because history has offered us numerous instances of favorable decisions that have enhanced our quality of life. These improvements were made possible through the boldness of visionaries who, in their time, overcame opposition from those motivated by personal and self-serving interests.

The current state of freight rail in the United States can be explained by Lincoln’s determination.

In the latter half of the 19th century, within the United States, each state and private company held the authority to construct railways and determine their own track gauges. Remarkably, by 1871, a staggering 23 distinct gauges existed, ranging from 914 to 1829 mm. The resistance to standardizing rail gauges was rooted in the fact that substantial profits were generated by transferring goods between various trains at state borders, creating employment opportunities through hospitality, trade, maintenance, and more.

Without delving into the debates that unfolded at the end of the Civil War, which centred on the necessity of standardizing track gauges and ending the prevalent disorder, what deserves emphasis is the decision-making process behind finding a long-term solution with a wide-ranging vision, enduring sustainability, and benefits for future generations. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln, after listening to voices from both the South and North and likely recognizing the adoption of ‘Stephenson’s gauge’ by the British Parliament in 1846 (fixing the track gauge at approximately 4 feet 8½ inches or 1,435 mm), resolved that the transcontinental railroad should adopt the 1,435 mm gauge. The project was successfully completed in 1869 at Promontory, Utah. It’s highly probable that a significant portion of the current freight transportation by rail in the United States can be attributed to Lincoln’s unwavering determination.

Turning our attention to a different continent, the 20th century introduced us to another visionary figure whose decision-making was rooted in a concern for future generations. Robert Schuman’s contributions stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to laying the foundation for the modern European Union. Our gratitude for his relentless efforts can never be overstated.

What’s truly captivating about this idea sown more than seven decades ago is its role in nurturing progress, cultivating democratic values, and fostering solidarity among nations. It has also paved the way for ‘erga omnes’ measures. Presently, the EU comprises 27 member countries out of the 50 on the European continent, with ongoing requests for membership in this exclusive alliance. The departure of the United Kingdom in 2020 serves as a conspicuous example of a misguided decision driven by populism, short-term objectives, and leaders lacking a forward-thinking vision for the well-being of future generations.

The “Digital Automatic Coupling” (DAC) system goes beyond coupling and uncoupling train cars.

The purpose of this extensive preamble is to underscore that it is by no means a coincidence that, just a few weeks ago, on July 10th, an unprecedented sectoral declaration was issued, advocating for the adoption of the ‘Digital Automatic Coupling’ (DAC) system as the standard for implementation across the European railway industry in the context of freight transportation. The DAC’s significance extends beyond the conventional aspects of physically coupling and uncoupling freight train cars without human intervention, which has been the traditional practice. It also encompasses the realm of digitalization, achieved through electrical connections, thus bolstering connectivity and data efficiency. This transformative technology enables the automation of various railway operations, including electronic waybills, train documentation, real-time information, and more. In doing so, it ushers in a genuine revolution aligned with the EU’s Green Deal objectives, with a keen focus on sustainability, decarbonization, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In this declaration, all the undersigned parties, including European railway associations, railway companies, manufacturers, wagon owners, carriers, as well as national and European customer associations—comprising over 70 entities across the value chain—demonstrate their unwavering commitment to endorsing automation and digitalization as the future industry standard. This collective commitment is anticipated to pave the way for a safer and more contemporary work environment for employees. Furthermore, in the long term, it is envisioned to be the cornerstone for the revitalization of rail freight transport, fostering its wider adoption and aligning it with ecological and sustainable practices in Europe. The document comprehensively outlines the current scenario and proposes the establishment of a Centralized European Deployment Management Entity, entrusted with overseeing the attainment of three pivotal milestones within this ambitious plan:

  1. The creation of a governing entity responsible for framing the legal and budgetary foundation,
  2. The pre-deployment of DAC, scheduled from 2025 to 2028, dedicated to large-scale testing, and
  3. The formal deployment of the DAC system commencing in 2028.

The verdict from Brussels will shape the destiny of 500,000 freight cars, potentially rendering them interoperable, elevating the market share of rail freight, and realizing the goals of the Green Deal. Most crucially, it will determine the continued growth and prosperity of Robert Schuman’s ‘father of Europe’ vision.

 

This article originally appeared on the El Mercantil website in Spanish. It is being published here with the author’s permission: https://elmercantil.com/opiniones/futuro-empieza-por-f-de-ferrocarril/

Building Bridges Beyond Borders: Science Diplomacy in the Mediterranean

This month we were thrilled to have the opportunity to have this insightful conversation with Mr. Alvaro Albacete Perea, the Deputy General Secretary of the Union for the Mediterranean. In the midst of evolving geopolitical dynamics in the Mediterranean region, we wanted to share this with you to understand the pivotal role of science diplomacy. Mr. Albacete shares profound insights into this burgeoning new field, shedding light on its transformative impact on regional challenges.

In this exclusive interview, he elaborates on the significance of collaborative efforts and the Union for the Mediterranean’s proactive stance in fostering cooperation amid the ever-shifting geopolitical landscape. 

 

 

1. Science Diplomacy has taken centre stage in recent EU policy-making. Our readers may be unfamiliar with the concept, so to help us understand it can you explain the role of science diplomacy in addressing regional challenges in the Mediterranean, such as environmental sustainability and climate change?

Science diplomacy is not simply a rebranding of research cooperation – one of the aims of this approach is building a common agenda to achieve concrete goals through the neutral language of science. In the Mediterranean, it is becoming a powerful tool for focusing on wide regional goals that impact positively all Mediterranean citizens, such as adapting to a shifting climate or making our agriculture more sustainable. Mediterranean researchers, experts and scientists can speak a common language, which policymakers can then use to agree on common goals beyond politics or current circumstances. Effectively, it is a complementary way of doing diplomacy, based on data and facts, where science can shed a light for a way forward even in challenging times of crises or of lacking dialogue.

Let us take the example of climate change: do we really think that an individual polity could fight its most pernicious effects on its population, on the economy, and fight environmental calamities by building alone the most advance environmental agenda, or by advancing in adaptation projects? It clearly requires achieving a common ground of understanding across all Mediterranean Countries of what is needed, and how to do it, and to work on it together. This can be facilitated by science diplomacy.

2. Can you think of some specific examples of successful science diplomacy initiatives or projects in the Mediterranean region that have had a notable impact on policy development?

Allow me to say that in Mediterranean, science has always been a key point of interest between the different shores. Since the Declaration of Barcelona, Science and Research have been identified as cooperation areas. This has led to concrete examples such as the Mediterranean Expert Group in Climate Change (MedECC), which is independent but supported by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), which has sounded the alarm with its reports to the worrying trends of climate change in our region, the second most impacted in the world after the poles.

On another front, the UfM Ministers for Research and Innovation have clearly identified as an example of Science Diplomacy in the Mediterranean the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean, PRIMA, which is headquartered in Barcelona and has always enjoyed a strong involvement of the Union for the Mediterranean. This programme, co-financed by the European Union and Mediterranean Member States, is based on an equal footing principles among countries, and provides precious funding for adapting our agri-food system and water systems to the new challenges of the region.

3. How has the Union for the Mediterranean collaborated with the European Union on science diplomacy initiatives, and what outcomes or benefits have been achieved through such cooperation?

Our cooperation with the European Union is structural, since the EU is one of the two co-presidencies that lead the action of the Union for the Mediterranean.

On Science diplomacy, the Union for the Mediterranean has co-organised last month with the European Commission the first Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Science Diplomacy, with more than 80 participants coming from 22 Countries to Barcelona. It has proved a wonderful moment for dialogue, but it has also provided concrete ideas for strengthening our cooperation. The next challenge will be on transforming these recommendations into action.

With the European Union and Jordan, the Union for the Mediterranean is also managing a platform on research and innovation which involves our Member States: this has led to the inclusion in the EU’s main research programme, Horizon Europe of a “Mediterranean Initiative”, based on the priorities identified by this Platform: climate change, renewable energy, and health.

4. With the advancement of technology and globalization, how do you see the educational landscape evolving in the Mediterranean region, and what role does the Union for the Mediterranean playa in this evolution?

Globalization and new technologies are affecting radically the way higher education is provided, but countries in the region find themselves at very different stages on matters related to internationalisation and digitalisation, for example. That is why the exchange of practices and results among Mediterranean countries is extremely valuable. The UfM aims at creating a space of cooperation and exchange of experiences; for that, we support existing regional networks of higher education institutions (HEIs), and we promote regional dialogue among policymakers and higher education leaders. To map the current situation and identify priorities of action, the UfM has also commissioned specific studies:  a report on the internationalisation of higher education in the Mediterranean was published two years ago, and a study on digital education will be launched next year.

5. Can you discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise from increased internationalization and digitalization of education in Mediterranean countries?

Regarding internationalisation, two preconditions to implement joint initiatives emerged from the public consultation the UfM Secretariat recently launched: overcoming practical barriers and creating a common vision on the subject.

The barriers to cooperation on internationalisation are manyfold: asymmetric scientific resources and outputs; differences in the level of high school graduates, financial support, quality control and accreditation schemes; incompatible administrative and financial procedures. There is a strong will to address these barriers to ensure that HEIs in the region may provide fair opportunities for students and staff and increase mobility, which ultimately leads to greater cultural exchange, peer-learning, access to global knowledge and resources, the sustainable development of the region and the promotion of peace and stability. Some concrete proposals were put forward by the consultation’s respondents, such as fostering the standardisation and recognition of curricula and diplomas, facilitating visa obtention, promoting multilingual competencies, or supporting capacity building of individual institutions in the development of their strategies.

Concerning digital education, major challenges are limited infrastructure and qualified personnel, as well as limited digital literacy. Proper strategic planning for digital education is also missing. The report on the consultation presents some recommendations: sharing online tools for peer-learning and the sharing of information; building capacity through regular training of staff; supporting digital readiness for the future by promoting digital skills training; increasing access to programmes and “internationalisation at home” through distance learning and virtual exchange programmes; avoiding competition between online and on-site, having in mind that the future is hybrid.

6. In light of the diverse cultures and languages in the Mediterranean region, how does the Union for the Mediterranean work to promote inclusive and multilingual education for greater integration?

There can be cultural and religious barriers that deter students from going on mobility. Stereotypes impact how students from both sides of the Mediterranean perceive each other. Mobility enables students to experience new cultures and understand alternative perspectives. We know the impact the Erasmus programme had on bringing cultures closer and fostering a common European identity. We thus dream of a similar programme for the Mediterranean area.

The Euromed University of Fes and EMUNI University are two UfM-labelled projects with a regional approach, promoting dialogue, knowledge-sharing and intercultural exchange in the fields of higher education, research and innovation.

The regional approach of the Euromed University of Fes (UEMF) is reflected in the diversity of nationalities of its students and staff, as well as in the contents of its study programmes, which focus on topics important for the integrated development of the Mediterranean region. The UEMF is building a new generation of young people with a unique Euro-Mediterranean profile, who can play an active role in transforming the region effectively and cooperatively. Endorsed by the 43 Member States of the UfM in 2012, the UEMF constitutes one of the UfM’s flagship projects and is part of the Mediterranean Initiative for Jobs (Med4Jobs). In line with the conclusions set by the UfM Ministerial Conference on Strengthening Cooperation through Research and Innovation (Valetta, May 2017) and the 1st Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education and Scientific Research (Cairo, 2007), along with the recommendations of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP, 2015), the promotion of international student mobility is a key priority of the University.

The Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI University) was established within the framework of the Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean (Paris, 2008). The institution gathers knowledge and experience from over 130 universities from 33 different countries, significantly contributing to the creation of an integrated Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education and Research Area. With its headquarters in Piran (Slovenia), EMUNI University’s main mission is to strengthen mutual understanding and intercultural exchange in the Mediterranean region. It does this by implementing accredited study programmes and other educational activities. The university also conducts scientific research and coordinates projects related to Euro-Mediterranean affairs and cooperation.

Inclusive education remains a challenge in many countries. It is fundamental to improve accessibility to higher education, to update policies in the entire education process, and to identify the specific needs of marginalized individuals and groups. The UfM is also promoting actively gender equality: in December, we are organizing a workshop aimed at exploring the technical intricacies involved in drafting Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in HEIs. Representatives from EU universities who have successfully designed such plans and Southern Mediterranean universities that have set notable examples will showcase their respective situations. The workshop aims at demonstrating the fundamental role of GEPs in fostering inclusivity, with a focus in the STEM areas.

7. In a globalized world, how can the Mediterranean region leverage its unique geographical position and cultural diversity to foster greater integration and cooperation in science, technology, and education?

Like Sun-Tsu would advise, it is advantageous to transform challenges and risks into opportunities. Currently the global arena is undergoing many epochal changes and tensions: from conflicts, to growing sanctions, and trade flows which are becoming more and more under scrutiny. At a time where trading and exchange between partners which very distant geographically is becoming more complicated, this can prove an asset to the Mediterranean region in terms of “near-shoring” as it could push further economic integration.

Nevertheless, trade and economy depend on the people that run it, the so-called “human capital”, which requires greater efforts on education and research for ensuring that the right kind of skills are in the right markets, that cooperation bring forward the appropriate technologies needed for the green transition, and that academic titles become more compatible across countries. An ambitious task perhaps, but even realising a fraction of it would lead to great economic returns.

8. How do you see the broader Mediterranean region addressing the digital divide and ensuring that technological progress is accessible and equitable for all its diverse communities?

Should the digital divide in infrastructure and skills be tackled properly, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings about a disruptive transformation that affects all aspects of social and economic life. Skills development and digital education play a key role in boosting employability, competitiveness, and growth and in better addressing the challenges of technological change and digitalization of the economy in the region. There is a need to enhance the exchange of good practices, at bilateral and regional levels, in key areas of the Digital Economy.

Partnerships in the UfM framework enable Member States to catch up front-runners. The UfM Regional Platform on Digital Economy and Internet Access has the objective of removing the regional barriers in the digital sector such as e-trust services, e-health, connectivity for research and education institutions, harmonization of legal frameworks, in particular on telecommunications or open data. The UfM Secretariat is using its potential to promote regional harmonization of digital transformation policies and support practical development of digital ecosystems in the interested Member States.

The photo features representatives from SOC, Barcelona Activa, Pimed, Escola, Transcalit, and the Consortium of Education.

E. Rodés: The great transformation is for companies and educational institutions to work together

The Barcelona New Economy Week (BNEW) came to a close on Thursday, but its significant panels continued until the very last day. In his presentation, Eduard Rodés explained that when discussing the collaboration between companies and educational institutions, it may seem as if we are referring to separate worlds. However, I believe that the most significant transformation in recent years has been the successful integration of these two entities.

The photo features representatives from SOC, Barcelona Activa, Pimed, Escola, Transcalit, and the Consortium of Education.

The photo features representatives from SOC, Barcelona Activa, Pimed, Escola, Transcalit, and the Consortium of Education.

Eduard Rodés, the director of the Escola Europea, spoke during the BNEW Talent event titled “Building the Future Training for Today’s Companies.” He emphasized that it is imperative for companies and educational institutions to collaborate to ensure effective training.

The panel, introduced by Núria Casas and moderated by Lourdes Sugranyes, Director of Inclusive Employment and Training at Barcelona Activa, featured other professionals from the sector, including Eva Expósito, who is responsible for Youth Support Services at the Public Employment Service in Catalonia; Silvia Miró, the director of the working area at PIMEC; Yolanda Redondo, the Secretary-General of Transcalit, and Gemma Verdés, the director of Post-obligatory Education and Special Regime at the Consortium of Education in Barcelona.

During his presentation, Eduard Rodés pointed out that while discussing the alignment of companies and educational institutions, it might seem as if we are dealing with entirely separate realms. Nonetheless, he stressed that the most significant change in recent years has been the successful integration of these two entities. The goal is not merely to train individuals and hope for subsequent employment but to equip them with the specific skills required for immediate integration into the workforce. Both initial training and ongoing education are of vital importance.

He also highlighted a shift in the role of the “triple helix,” which encompasses the public administration, academia, and businesses. Achieving alignment among these entities is crucial for making education a standard component of a company’s operations. Business owners need to take an active role, and educational institutions must become an integral part of the system to adapt their curriculum, ensuring that teachers and students are prepared to meet industry demands, according to the director of the Escola.

A while back, the Escola Europea initiated a programme called “Aprenem junts” with the intention of sending teachers to companies and having industry professionals teach in schools. Now, such participation is a requirement. In other words, companies interested in joining the talent pool they create must commit to taking on dual students, hosting teachers, and providing instruction to schools, as explained by Eduard Rodés.

These programmes are becoming almost obligatory, fostering a commitment between companies and educational institutions, as noted by the director of the European School. Lastly, he emphasized the importance of language acquisition, particularly English, stating, “We all need to ponder a question: Is Barcelona ready to take on a leadership role in the Mediterranean? For instance, all our courses are conducted in English because proficiency in the language is essential.”

Driving Innovation: Escola Europea and Barcelona Port Foundation join forces

The TECHLOG Project, Port Virtual Lab and the Green Deal

Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea

Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea

At the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport we are slowly approaching the end of a very busy period. With the Europea project YEP MED nearing its final days, the Escola’s signature course bookings gaining full steam ahead, the SIL conference at which not one, but two of our big projects were featured alongside our signature training offers, and more, we have had very short periods of respite. This is good news for us – a testament to the influence that we hold throughout the Mediterranean port community. But this quarter I wanted to share with you – our alumni community –a particularly special partnership that we have forged; one with the Port of Barcelona’s Innovation Foundation.

This past month, the Escola Europea has forged a strategic alliance with the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation, setting a firm commitment to propel the transformation of the maritime-port sector. The agreement highlights already existing innovative initiatives such as TECHLOG – a project co-funded by the European Union which will encourage joint Technology Transfer Initiatives (TTI) to achieve common quality standards for transport and port specialized staff within the participating ports and beyond – and Port Virtual Lab – a complete logistics virtual simulator that offers technological and educational tools through which international trade, logistics and transport students or professionals can simulate real life operations. Central to these efforts is the two parties’ dedication towards achieving the objectives of the European Union’s Green Deal, with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability that encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions.

Transforming the Maritime-Port Sector

The Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation, supported by prominent entities such as the Port of Barcelona, Ackcent, and Aggity, has set forth an ambitious mission to establish the maritime-port sector as a worldwide leader in innovation and operational excellence. Fuelled by their unwavering dedication, their primary objective revolves around transforming the Port of Barcelona into a dynamic Smart Hub, underpinned by the seamless integration of cutting-edge technological advancements and the fundamental principles of the Blue Economy.

And this is where we come in.

TECHLOG

TECHLOG project

As an integral part of this endeavour, the Escola Europea actively participates in the TECHLOG project, which is co-financed by the ENI CBCMED programme. This initiative entails a series of activities directed towards training educators for the development of Living Labs.

“A Living Lab (LL) is an open-innovation ecosystem centered around user participation, situated within a public-private-people partnership. This unique model is rooted in a systematic user co-creation approach, seamlessly integrating research and innovation processes.”

The Escola Europea has been at the forefront of these labs in Livorno (Italy) for participants from the Western Mediterranean, and in Alexandria (Egypt) for participants from the Eastern Mediterranean – making sure that the knowledge is accessible by parties from across our shared Sea.

Most Mediterranean sectors suffer from poor connections between research, development and education, from one side, and, the real economy, from the other side – a situation that TECHLOG wants to address by strengthening ties between academia and the (trans)port industry. By encouraging joint Technology Transfer Initiatives (TTI) to achieve common quality standards for transport and port specialized staff, the goal is to create a Mediterranean Open Lab to promote and share those initiatives within the (trans)port communities. These TTI will be tested through pilot actions, in real port operators, and will involve trained staff.

The Port Virtual Lab

Moreover, the Escola Europea and the Foundation are collaborating on the development of Port Virtual Lab (PVL). This venture is an innovation laboratory where burgeoning technological solutions are explored and validated, creating a unique environment of collaboration and learning using simulators and simulated companies. Essentially, PVL is a training platform that allows performing operations related to logistics and international transport in our Virtual Port Community. Both professionals and students are be able to experience first hand activities related to international trade, while interacting with our simulated companies.

Success of Port Virtual Lab

The Escola has received numerous success stories following the launch of Port Virtual Lab and its incorporation in the courses developed under the European YEP MED programme, of which we are lead partners. The development of the European project encountered significant obstacles in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, and the experiential training courses planned for the initiative could no longer take place. This gave rise to the PVL platform. With an instrumental partnership from Click & Cargo, at the Escola we were able to create this amazing and comprehensive tool that would help us take the port operations and transactions directly to the monitors of our remote students. PVL was fundamental in maintaining continuity in education and student internships.

The platform’s power has been enhanced through its continuous usage and improvement processes. Today, companies expect students to have prior simulator training, which greatly speeds up their learning curve when they begin internships or enter the workforce directly. This demonstrates the practical value and effectiveness of the training provided by Port Virtual Lab, and shines a bright light on its future.

Commitment to Sustainability

Each project spearheaded by the Escola Europea underscores its unwavering commitment to holistic sustainability, embracing the realms of economic, social, and environmental well-being for us as global citizens. This profound dedication finds resonance with the ambitious targets outlined in the European Union’s Green Deal.

The Green Deal, proposed by the European Commission, is an audacious set of policy initiatives directed towards making Europe climate neutral by 2050. These initiatives not only focus on environmental preservation but also on revitalizing the economy and improving the quality of life for all citizens. By aligning our pursuits with those outlined in the initiatives, we are striving to ensure our contributions effectively drive towards a sustainable, resilient, and just Europe. Working together, the Escola and the Barcelona Port Foundation can work towards ensuring that Barcelona is at the vanguard of Europe’s efforts to bring around a sustainable Mediterranean.

Conclusion

The partnership between the Escola Europea and the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation is built upon the pillars of collaboration, sustainable development, knowledge, and innovation. Leveraging the Escola’s pioneering simulated business solutions and training methods, their expertise can be harnessed at every stage of the innovation process.

The strategic alliance between the Escola Europea and the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation plays a pivotal role in spearheading innovation, sustainability, and efficiency within the maritime-port sector, with a unique Mediterranean and Barcelona perspective. With a steadfast commitment to education, innovation, and the development of transformative solutions, we can  contribute significantly to the transformation of the Port of Barcelona into a globally recognized Smart Hub.

You too can get involved!

Today, we must all accept that innovation is the fuel for building a new society that needs to confront substantial economic, environmental, and social challenges. Follow the activities that the Foundation and the Escola are doing and will do in the future. Engage in those where you can contribute.

Together, we are strong
The growth of the Internet of Things

The Tetrahedron: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Training and Employment in the Digital Age

Eduard Rodés - Director of the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by: Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

In Barcelona, on 18 April 2023, next to the Mediterranean Republic, it is springtime.

The Social Tetrahedron

Today, we find ourselves in a period of rapid technological progress, with digitalisation and innovation at the forefront. This process of constant innovation creates new training needs for emerging professional profiles, which in turn drives training to facilitate employment and the creation or maintenance of jobs. Innovation not only affects existing companies, but also gives rise to the birth of new companies, such as spin-offs, which are better adapted to the characteristics and demands of the market.

In this context, it is essential that innovation, entrepreneurship, training and employment develop in harmony, avoiding mismatches between the needs and capabilities of each stage.  What we started out visualising as training and occupation and which we represented as the two sides of a coin has now become a four-sided tetrahedron in which innovation and entrepreneurship become an indissoluble part of the equation.

In this article, we will explore each of these four aspects from the perspective of what society can offer today and how it might evolve in the future.

Training

Training is the basis for developing the skills needed in the new employment landscape. Traditional education is evolving towards more practical and problem-oriented approaches. E-learning, vocational training and certification programmes play a crucial role in preparing workers for the labour market.

The use of simulators, as the Port Virtual Lab developed by the Escola, can be incorporated as a new tool for better and faster understanding and internalization of new skills in environments that would be difficult or impossible to reproduce in the real world. Simulators allow learners to practice and hone their skills in a safe and controlled environment. By immersing learners in realistic and interactive environments, these technologies enable the development of practical skills and problem-solving abilities that are directly transferable to real-world situations. As part of a comprehensive training strategy, simulators can help bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience, ensuring that individuals are better prepared for the challenges they will face in their professional lives. Embracing these innovative tools can contribute to a more adaptable and skilled workforce, capable of keeping pace with the rapidly changing demands of the digital age.

Society must continue to adapt to this new reality, promoting lifelong learning and life-wide learning, with special emphasis on technical and digital skills. In addition, collaboration between educational institutions, businesses and governments needs to be fostered to ensure that training is aligned with the needs of the labour market.

Innovation

Innovation is the driving force behind the creation of new products, services and processes. To remain competitive in this constantly changing environment, both companies and individuals must be willing to adopt new technologies and adapt to new approaches to work.

The use and development of “living labs” can be incorporated as a new tool for better, faster, and more effective collaboration among participants. Living labs provide environments where the configuration of work teams can be more agile and dynamic, and where innovations and advances from all participants can be effectively shared.

Living labs are real-life settings where users, researchers, and companies collaborate to develop, test, and refine innovative solutions in real-world contexts. These collaborative spaces foster co-creation and user-driven innovation, ensuring that the resulting products and services are better aligned with the needs and expectations of their target audience.

Government policies can encourage innovation through investment in research and development, and the creation of fiscal and financial incentives for innovative companies. In addition, cooperation between the public and private sectors can create a favourable ecosystem for innovation, where universities, companies and research centres work together to create new solutions.

A foundation that unites public and private organizations, such as the one promoted by the Port of Barcelona,  can foster innovation, entrepreneurship, training, and job creation in the digital age. By facilitating collaboration, resource sharing, and knowledge exchange, the foundation can better align initiatives with market needs and skill gaps. Providing financial support, mentorship, and networking opportunities, the foundation helps develop a skilled and adaptable workforce. Additionally, the foundation advocates for policy changes and regulatory frameworks that support its objectives, ultimately contributing to sustainable economic growth and social progress.

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is essential for job creation and economic growth. New companies and start-ups are often responsible for bringing the most disruptive and transformative innovations to the market. It is therefore essential that society provides an enabling environment for new entrepreneurs to emerge.

To foster entrepreneurship, training and mentoring programmes can be established, access to finance can be facilitated, and the creation of support networks among entrepreneurs can be promoted. Governments can also implement policies that reduce bureaucratic barriers and simplify the process of creating and developing new businesses.

Public administrations play a crucial role in fostering entrepreneurship by facilitating environments such as “sandbox” settings, where businesses can test and develop new ideas without regulatory restrictions. These controlled environments enable organizations to experiment, learn, and iterate quickly while minimizing risks. Additionally, public administrations can act as a driving force by becoming the “first customer” for startups and businesses launching new products or services. As early adopters, they help validate market potential, provide valuable feedback, and attract further customers and investors. Doing this, public administrations demonstrate their commitment to economic growth and social progress. Through collaboration with private organizations and a focus on fostering entrepreneurship, public administrations can effectively navigate the challenges of the digital age and promote sustainable development for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Occupation

Rapid technological progress and the emergence of new businesses create new jobs and transform the demands of the labour market. Society must be able to adapt to these changes, ensuring that workers have the necessary skills to perform the jobs of the future. This involves not only the development of technical skills, but also soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity and adaptability.

Greater collaboration between business, education institutions and governments is key to anticipating labour market needs and ensuring a smoother transition for workers. These three main actors, which we call the triple helix because of their capacity to push and advance, must be obliged to create the spaces of collaboration and understanding that facilitate the smooth development of all the aforementioned vectors of advancement. It is important to emphasize the creation of joint working groups where representatives from different stakeholders can establish task forces focused on addressing specific issues and advancing new directions. These groups also play a vital role in coordinating and synchronizing efforts to ensure a balanced labour market, with well-prepared individuals possessing the necessary competencies. Sectoral agreements and collective work are fundamental to achieving positive outcomes.

Collaborative working groups enable stakeholders from various sectors, including businesses, educational institutions, government agencies, and labor organizations, to identify skill gaps and workforce needs, develop targeted training and education programmes, and create policies and initiatives that promote job creation and economic growth. By working together, these groups can more effectively address the challenges and opportunities presented by the rapidly changing labor market and ensure that individuals are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the digital age. In addition, special attention must be paid to inclusion and equal opportunities, ensuring that all members of society have access to the training and job opportunities that will enable them to thrive in the digital age.

Epilogue

The tetrahedron of education, innovation, entrepreneurship and employment is essential for society’s success in the digital and artificial intelligence era. Collaboration between the different actors and constant adaptation to new technologies and approaches to work will enable people and companies to make the most of the opportunities offered by digitalisation. It is essential that these four aspects develop in harmony, to avoid imbalances and ensure sustainable and equitable growth in an ever-changing world.

But in order to have a broader view of the reality in which we live, we can make a creative association between training, innovation, entrepreneurship and occupation with the four elements of nature: water, fire, air and earth could be represented as follows:

Water – Training

Water is fluid and adaptable, taking the shape of the container that holds it. Similarly, training must be flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the labour market. Just as water is essential for life, training is the basis for the development of skills and knowledge that enable people to thrive in the workplace.

Fire – Innovation

Fire is synonymous with energy and transformation, capable of rapidly changing the state of the elements with which it comes into contact. Innovation, like fire, has the power to radically transform industries and societies, driving significant changes in the way we live and work. Innovation can also be contagious, spreading rapidly through communities and sectors like the flames of a fire.

Air – Entrepreneurship

Air represents freedom, movement and expansion. Entrepreneurs, like air, are agents of change that drive economic growth and job creation. Entrepreneurship is characterised by the ability to adapt to different situations and find new opportunities, just as air moves and flows through different spaces.

Land – Jobs

Land symbolises stability and solidity, providing a firm foundation on which to build. Jobs are the foundation that supports the economy and society, providing people with the means to sustain their lives and contribute to collective well-being. Land is also the place where natural and human resources converge, just as jobs represent the meeting point between people’s skills and knowledge and the demands of the labour market.

By linking these four aspects to the elements of nature, we can gain a richer and more symbolic perspective on how each of them contributes to balance and harmony in economic and social development.

Conclusion

With the YEP MED project, progress is being made in the direction that will enable the objectives of training and employment to be achieved. With the TECHLOG project, progress is being made in achieving the objectives of innovation and entrepreneurship. Together we are making progress in the construction of the tetrahedron that will enable the ports and logistics communities to work together to achieve leadership in innovation, entrepreneurship, training and employment; with the heart set on the preservation of the environment represented by water, fire, land and air. Leading means being a role model for the rest of society, setting an example and facilitating change. Ports have the resources to do so and must take on the commitment made by the United Nations with the SDGs: no one should be left behind.

Back to Basics: Blue vs. Green Hydrogen

Anyone who follows current events knows that we are currently in a race against time when it comes to offsetting the effects of global warming. Transport emissions are a key part of this race as, in today’s globalised society, they contribute significantly to the rises in temperatures throughout the globe. According to the International Energy Agency tracking report from 2022, transport emissions are responsible for roughly 7.7 Gt CO2 annually – a number that needs to drop to less than 6 Gt before the end of the current decade if we want to reach the Net Zero goal set by the UN.

From biofuels, to liquified natural gas, to electric batteries – the transport sector is currently exploring a variety of solutions that can be put in place to make transport cleaner whilst maintaining its efficiency. One such alternative fuel source is hydrogen – a lot of hype has been given to this fuel source in the industry – and this is why we chose it as the focus of our #BacktoBasics article this month.

What is hydrogen?

Most of us know the formula for the element – H2. We know it is colourless, has no taste or smell, and is highly combustible –we learned this in school. In recent years, research has helped us develop systems that can transform the heat generated by this element into energy.

Today, in many sectors of our society, hydrogen is already being used as a “clean” source of energy. Some such examples are:

  1. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs): FCEVs use hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, which then powers the vehicle’s electric motor. FCEVs have a longer range than battery electric vehicles and can be refuelled in a matter of minutes.
  2. Hydrogen internal combustion engines (HICEs): HICEs are like traditional gasoline or diesel engines but use hydrogen as the fuel source. HICEs produce lower emissions than traditional engines, but not as low as fuel cell electric vehicles.
  3. Hydrogen-powered buses: Several cities around the world have implemented hydrogen-powered buses in their public transit systems (including London (England), Aberdeen (Scotland), Cologne (Germany) and Tokyo (Japan). These buses emit only water vapor and have similar range and refuelling times as FCEVs.
  4. Hydrogen-powered trains: Hydrogen fuel cells are being used to power trains in some areas, such as Germany and the UK. These trains emit only water vapor and have lower noise levels compared to diesel trains.

When thinking about the freight transport sector, we can see that we already have:

  1. Hydrogen fuel cell trucks: Several companies are developing fuel cell-powered trucks for cargo transport (including Toyota and Kenworth). These trucks have a range of several hundred miles and emit only water vapor.
  2. Hydrogen-powered forklifts: Hydrogen fuel cells are being used to power forklifts in warehouses and distribution centres. These forklifts have the advantage of emitting only water vapour and refuelling quickly, reducing downtime compared to battery-powered forklifts.
  3. Hydrogen-powered trains: hydrogen fuel cells are being used to power trains in some areas. These trains could potentially be used for cargo transport as well, with the added benefit of emitting only water vapour and having lower noise levels compared to diesel trains.
  4. Maritime transport: There are several projects underway to develop hydrogen-powered ships for cargo transport. For example, the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project in Japan is developing a hydrogen-powered supply chain for liquefied natural gas transport.
  5. Air cargo transport: While hydrogen is not yet being used for commercial air transport, there are several projects underway to develop hydrogen-powered aircraft. For example, Airbus is developing a concept for a zero-emissions aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Green or Blue (or both?)

Hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel that can be produced from a variety of sources, including natural gas, biomass, and renewable energy. Blue and green hydrogen are two different types of hydrogen production methods that have distinct differences in terms of their environmental impact and production processes;

  1. Green hydrogen

It is produced through the process of electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The electricity can be generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Since green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, it is generally considered a clean fuel that has a low carbon footprint. It can be used in fuel cell vehicles, which are powered by hydrogen and emit only water vapor as a by-product. The use of green hydrogen in transport can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future.

  1. Blue hydrogen

It is produced from natural gas using a process called steam methane reforming (SMR). During SMR, natural gas is heated with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide is then converted into carbon dioxide, which is captured and stored underground. This process is known as carbon captureutilisation, and storage (CCUS), which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by storing carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. While blue hydrogen is considered to have a lower carbon footprint than conventional natural gas, it still relies on fossil fuels, making it less environmentally friendly than green hydrogen.

Both green and blue hydrogen can (and are) be used in fuel cell vehicles. However, since green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, it is considered the most sustainable and environmentally friendly option for transport today. Blue hydrogen, on the other hand, is considered a transitional fuel that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while the world transitions to a fully renewable energy system.

According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the use of blue hydrogen in transport can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% compared to conventional gasoline or diesel vehicles. However, the report also notes that blue hydrogen should be used as a stepping stone to green hydrogen, which is the ultimate goal for a sustainable hydrogen economy.

Final thoughts

At the moment it is still unclear which hydrogen option the markets will favour. Blue and green hydrogen are essentially depictions of two different types of hydrogen production methods that have differences in terms of their environmental impact and production processes. Most experts agree that “green” is the better option as it appears to be a net-zero fuel. It is unfortunately also true that green hydrogen is the most expensive one to make (Forbes estimated the production of green hydrogen at $6/kilogram – 2-3 times more expensive than blue hydrogen). Thus, it can be said that most industry members would opt for the blue option – at least in the short term. While blue hydrogen can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, green hydrogen remains the more sustainable and environmentally friendly option for transport. So, while we work on making green hydrogen more accessible to the markets, we can remain satisfied with the knowledge that even with blue H we are keeping pace with the global warming race. After all, the use of hydrogen (any hydrogen) as a fuel in transport can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Sources:

Welcome to the Port – Learning Together

 

Last month we introduced the new initiative that was born out of the need to bring the port professions closer to the realities of our communities and our sector – Barcelona Ports Training and Employment Group.

This month, we wanted to check it on how this Group doing, with a specific focus on step 2 – Learning Together (or Aprenem Junts).

Learning Together

Business reality is constantly changing. Every day, new applications, tools and disruptive business models appear that make companies mutate continuously. In this changing context, it is very difficult for the information that is transmitted to students and future professionals to always be up to date, as unfortunately books and academic content do not have this liveliness and the ability to change so quickly.

One way to achieve that is for teachers, who are usually professionals dedicated entirely to teaching, to get to know directly the reality of companies. This can be achieved through short stages of teachers in companies of the sector.

In line with this need, the Training and Employment working group has developed a specific action called “Aprenem Junts” – Learning together, through which teachers from the local institutes are invited to complete short training or knowledge stints – lasting one or two weeks – in companies from the sector.

This activity is open for all professional fields existing in companies in the Port Community: nautical, logistics, mechanical, chemical, international trade, IT, administration…

This action has two main objectives:

  • For the teachers to see the day-to-day realities of the companies first-hand.
  • To build relationships between teachers and professionals who manage these companies, therewith building up a rapport and opening up a channel of communication and knowledge exchanges to share needs, concerns, news and developments with each other.

This should serve to advance another similar objective: that schools and institutes begin to incorporate training sessions given by professionals from the sector within their courses. Ideally, these should not be seen as intrusions, but as enrichments of the students’ overall education. After all, it is beneficial for professionals to prepare classes as it requires them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes, which in turn forces them to systematise the work activities they carry out on a daily basis. Having to explain what you do to others is a highly recommendable exercise for everyone.

Aprenem Junts 2023

In 2022, for the first time, an initiative to promote this exercise of interaction between companies and teachers was organised, with successful results in terms of generation of contacts and collaborations, helping companies to incorporate more students in their staff.

This month, the Port of Barcelona and the Training and Employment Work Group is organising a new edition of the “Learning Together” event. It will take place on the 19th of April 2023 in the Aula dels Estels of the World Trade Centre (in Barcelona). The event will aim to:

  • Establish links between companies in the sector and training centres that teach content related to the port industry
  • Encourage teachers’ stints in companies with the aim of bringing teachers closer to business reality
  • Improve companies’ talent recruitment through the teachers’ knowledge of the companies’ cultures, missions and values

This event will take place in the shape of a “speed dating” environment, where individual conversations between professionals from different companies and the teachers or counsellors will be held on a rotational basis. If you are interested, you can register here (NOTE – the event will be held in Catalan).

After all, the Port of Barcelona has an attractive and powerful brand to uphold, and it needs to be communicated to the best talent to come and work in the port-logistics community.

Previous articles in this series:

 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is here to stay – but at what cost?

Eduard Rodés - Director of the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by: Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

In January one evening I sat down to experiment with the new tools that have been receiving a lot of industry hype recently – the AI chatbots that seemed to revolutionise the field of automation and digital assistance. I went into Chat GPT and asked it to “write a 1000-word article on artificial intelligence and logistics”.

This was the result:

“Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the field of logistics and supply chain management. By using machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics, AI can help logistics companies optimize their operations, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.

One of the main benefits of AI in logistics is the ability to automate and streamline processes. For example, AI can be used to optimize routes for delivery trucks, predict demand for certain products, and identify bottlenecks in the supply chain. This can help logistics companies reduce their operating costs and improve customer satisfaction by providing faster and more reliable delivery times.

Another area where AI can be useful in logistics is in the management of inventory. By analyzing sales data and customer demand, AI algorithms can help logistics companies forecast future demand and adjust their inventory levels accordingly. This can help reduce the risk of overstocking or running out of stock, which can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

In addition to automating and optimizing processes, AI can also be used to improve the accuracy and speed of decision-making in logistics. For example, AI algorithms can be used to analyze large amounts of data and identify trends or patterns that might not be immediately obvious to human analysts. This can help logistics companies make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources, what products to stock, and how to respond to changes in the market.

AI can also be used to improve the efficiency of logistics operations by reducing the need for manual labor. For example, self-driving trucks and drones can be used to transport goods, freeing up human workers to focus on more complex tasks. This can help logistics companies reduce labor costs and improve productivity. Despite the many potential benefits of AI in logistics, there are also some challenges to consider. One concern is the potential for job displacement as more tasks are automated. Logistics companies will need to carefully consider how to retrain and reallocate their workforce to ensure that workers are not left behind as AI becomes more prevalent.

In conclusion, AI has the potential to revolutionize logistics and supply chain management by automating and streamlining processes, optimizing inventory levels, improving decision-making, and reducing the need for manual labor. However, there are some challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure that AI is used responsibly.”

 

I was left dumbstruck. I then wanted to test this further and accessed deepai.org/art. I asked the screen to create an image for me with the Word “logistics”, and low and behold – I was given a new image:

Technology has been advancing at an incremental rate since the late 80s, early 90s. Long gone are the days when you had to call an operator to connect you to another person. It also appears that the days of “assistants” will also soon be behind us. Artificial Intelligence is improving our productivity, changing the way we carry out daily tasks and work. But at what cost?

What is ChatCPT?

ChatGPT is a language model developed by OpenAI. In essense it’s an artificial intelligence chatbot, which launched in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

The technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate with machines and each other. Its implications on our future are vast, and its potential uses are only beginning to be explored. From business to education, healthcare to entertainment, ChatGPT has the potential to transform our world in profound ways.

One of the most significant implications of ChatGPT is its ability to enhance communication. With its advanced natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can interpret and respond to text in a way that is almost indistinguishable from human communication. This means that it has the potential to provide personalized customer service, support in education and training, and even therapy.

  • The system can also process vast amounts of data, which makes it a powerful tool for businesses. With its help, companies can analyze customer feedback, identify patterns in consumer behaviour, and improve their products and services accordingly. ChatGPT can also be used to streamline internal communication, automate repetitive tasks, and provide insights for decision-making.
  • In healthcare, ChatGPT can help patients receive more personalized care. By analysing patient data and medical history, ChatGPT can assist doctors and nurses in making more informed decisions about diagnosis and treatment. It can also be used to provide patients with support and education, helping them to manage their conditions and improve their overall health.
  • In education, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way we learn. It can provide personalized support and feedback to students, help teachers to create more engaging and effective lesson plans, and even automate grading and assessment. ChatGPT can also provide access to educational resources to people in remote or underprivileged areas, helping to bridge the digital divide.

Is it all good?

While ChatGPT has many potential benefits, there are also several risks and challenges that need to be addressed. Here are some of the most significant concerns:

  1. Bias: Like any artificial intelligence system, ChatGPT can be influenced by biases in the data it is trained on. This means that if the data reflects discriminatory or unfair practices, the system could perpetuate those biases. This is especially concerning when it comes to sensitive topics like healthcare or criminal justice, where biased decision-making could have serious consequences.
  2. Misinformation: ChatGPT can be used to create convincing fake news or propaganda, which can be spread quickly and widely through social media. This is a concern because misinformation can have serious real-world consequences, such as influencing political outcomes or causing panic during a public health crisis.
  3. Privacy: ChatGPT requires access to large amounts of data to work effectively, which can raise concerns about privacy. If sensitive personal information is stored and processed by ChatGPT, there is a risk that it could be accessed by hackers or other malicious actors.
  4. Dependence: As ChatGPT becomes more ubiquitous, there is a risk that people will become overly reliant on it for decision-making and problem-solving. This could lead to a loss of critical thinking skills and creativity, which are important for innovation and progress.
  5. Regulation: There are currently few regulations in place to govern the use of artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT. This means that there is a risk that these systems could be used in unethical or harmful ways without consequences.

To address these risks and challenges, it is essential to continue developing ethical guidelines and safeguards to ensure that ChatGPT is used in responsible and beneficial ways. This includes ensuring that the data used to train ChatGPT is diverse and free from bias, and that users are educated on the limitations and potential biases of the system. Additionally, regulations should be put in place to ensure that ChatGPT is used ethically and transparently, and that privacy concerns are addressed. By doing so, we can maximize the potential benefits of ChatGPT while minimizing the risks.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that ChatGPT has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives, from communication and business to healthcare and education. Its implications for our future are vast, and its potential uses are only beginning to be explored. As with any technology, it is important to continue to develop ethical guidelines and safeguards to ensure that ChatGPT is used in responsible and beneficial ways. The future is exciting, and ChatGPT looks to be a part of it.