Blockchain technology for collaborative freight management at ports

After serving as development partner for the Ci5 Cargo Community System now in service at the Port of Marseille Fos, Thales is providing its blockchain expertise to MGI, the systems provider behind this collaborative freight management platform.

Blockchain technology offers a new collaborative logistics governance solution in which the system's clients act as trusted third parties to guarantee traceability and ensure that data cannot be altered or falsified. MGI is the first Cargo Community System provider in the world to offer integrated blockchain technology in its platform.

The data in the Cargo Community System comes from many different sources, including shippers, customs authorities, freight handlers, port agents and road haulage companies. All this data is used to anticipate the arrival of goods and keep logistics operations running smoothly while meeting the many requirements of the customs authorities, regulators and other administrations. Data reliability is therefore of paramount importance. With the blockchain technology integrated by Thales into MGI's Ci5 system, each of the Cargo Community System's clients becomes a link in the chain of digital trust.

Around fifteen different operators currently exchange and share information in Ci5. Blockchain technology will enable MGI to include other operators, such as banks and insurance companies, into the process.

“The expertise provided by our partner, Thales, enabled us to incorporate blockchain technology into our Cargo Intelligent System, Ci5" says Alain Perez, Director of Information Systems and Operations at MGI. "It’s a brand-new innovation for this type of system. Besides improving the security and traceability of transactions, blockchain technology essentially makes all the operators that use Ci5 trusted third parties."

Joël Derrien, VP Digital Services at Thales, said: “The blockchain technologies that Thales is working on are helping create decentralised, unfalsifiable and secure digital ledgers. The Cargo Community System we developed with MGI is a perfect example of how blockchain technology can help professionals who are looking for smooth collaborative communication without compromising data security and reliability.”

Blockchain explained

A blockchain is a digital ledger used to store and exchange information securely and unfalsifiably. The ledger is decentralised (no central management or control) and distributed (shared by all its users).

Each user has a complete copy of the ledger. When one user wants to add something to the ledger, the addition is validated by the other users and then forms a block. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block and is then added to the blockchain. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Thanks to this blockchaining principle, the cryptographic layers that verify and secure all the additions, and the fact that the ledger is duplicated, it is virtually impossible to falsify the data.

Blockchain technology was first developed to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, which appeared in 2008. The private ledgers that have appeared since then grant limited read and write permissions to duly authorised users.

Find out more

>> MGI press release: the first Cargo Community System in the world to integrate blockchain technology
>> Article: A digital platform for managing smart container ports