Data Sharing: Technology Architecture + Data Access Protocols

The backbone of globally interoperable seafood traceability must be a shared set of technology standards and data access protocols that allow proprietary traceability systems to communicate with one another along a value chain, easily sharing the information that should be shared while protecting the information that should remain secure.

Today, the seafood industry is characterized by a patchwork of distinct private traceability systems that requires ad hoc solutions every time non-interoperable systems must interact.  This situation can increase costs, reduce business flexibility, and result in “vendor capture.”  As in other successfully globalized industries, the solution lies in adopting a common technology architecture comprising the standards, protocols, specifications, and guidelines needed to allow digital information systems to communicate effectively.

A technology architecture of this kind does not require all businesses to adopt the same traceability system–no more than the telecommunications standards for global roaming  require everyone to own the same brand mobile phone.  But by providing common “design specs”, a global IT architecture for seafood traceability will allow businesses to use competitive  solutions without isolating themselves in technology silos.

The IFT’s Global Food Traceability Center is now completing a [year-long] project to develop initial technical proposals for a global seafood traceability technology architecture.  This project–which was organized as a source of inputs into the Global Dialogue–has involved more than ____ international experts affiliated with industry, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations working in a series of technical advisory groups.  A copy of the project’s Interoperable Seafood Traceability Technology Architecture Issues Brief is available here.

Convenience and Security

A functional framework for seafood traceability also needs to include a way to align processes and practices for data access and data security.   Negotiating data access relationships can be time-consuming and complicated.  By developing a set of standardized processes — including, for example, common legal templates for data access contracts — expectations can be more easily aligned, and new relationships can established quickly and at lower cost.

The Global Dialogue discussion to agree on a shared technology architecture and common data access protocols is taking place within Working Group 2.