New data-sharing initiative for trucking supported by White House

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg just gave a hearty stamp of approval for the communication forum Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW). The forum was released to the public half a year ago with the intent to increase optimized communication between freight stakeholders, specifically to issues of freight bottlenecks that negatively impacted access to commercial transportation ports.

FLOW is checking all the boxes, according to Buttigieg and reported by Transport Topics.

“Most Americans would assume there’s more data sharing than there is,” Buttigieg said as he put emphasis on how data could positively influence stakeholder to stakeholder conversation. “That’s going to allow us to see things in the system that we just can’t see right now, in terms of where the backups are going to be.”

While he has an optimistic outlook on the data-sharing program, he does address possible challenges for the software.

“One possible obstacle I can see eventually is, as we grow it people start to be kind of jealously protective of their data,” Buttigieg said.

He then supplied reassurances for hypothetical challenges of such caliber.

“We’re not going after anybody’s proprietary data,” he said. “We’re just trying to get information that it would make sense for everybody to have. So, we may need to have that conversation later. But right now, it’s so new that I’m very satisfied with the level of participation we got and very mindful of that it is on us to, I think, get these prototypes going.”

The Biden administration, which launched FLOW in mid-March, shared that the program is focused on relieving issues related to the movement of freight. Along with Buttigieg, Retired General Stephen Lyons, who works as the port and supply chain envoy for this administration’s supply chain disruptions task force, is positive about the software.

“The start of data sharing between industry and [the U.S. Department of Transportation] is an important milestone for FLOW. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with industry to develop this tool to enable industry to make more informed decisions that will improve the movement of goods along our supply chain,” Lyons said.

The White House released a statement on their goals and intentions for FLOW at a national level.

“Supply chain disruptions have raised national awareness of the need for improved information exchange. Supply chain stakeholders deserve reliable, predictable, and accurate information about goods movement and FLOW will test the idea that cooperation on foundational freight digital infrastructure is in the interest of both public and private parties,” the White House said. “FLOW is designed to support businesses throughout the supply chain and improve accuracy of information from end-to-end for a more resilient supply chain.”