Halifax Port Authority (HPA) has launched a new Port of Halifax website that has made looking for information on cargo and many other activities around the port a much easier process. Its immediate message describes the site: Small Change. Big Impact.

“The goal was to enhance the user experience,” says HPA’s Lane Farguson. “We had a number of properties and we wanted to bring them all under one roof. Now we have a separate cargo operations centre to make it much easier for our customers to track cargo as it moves through the port,” he said.

Farguson said the website revamp, developed over the past year by the Halifax office of NATIONAL Public Relations Inc., was a “big step and there is more to come. In the next phase it may have something that monitors truck times as well. For Phase 2 of the project, our goal is to provide real-time and historic information on gate wait times and truck service times, and we are working to have that available in the coming months,” he said.

The website, www.PortofHalifax.ca, has placed additional focus on containerized cargo and consolidating additional web properties such as HalifaxGetsItThere.ca. Farguson said this provides existing users with a convenient one-stop digital location to find information about their cargo through container tracking and route maps.

“The upgraded system allows people to subscribe to specific alerts, choose their specific field, receive alerts via email or SMS (short message service), and bulk upload multiple containers to track,” he said. “The functionality is largely the same, but the information is better integrated with the new platform. This material is all in one area making it more user-friendly and easier to compare different data sets,” he added.

The system is based on container movements, Farguson said. “We track one container at a time with six milestones. It is not GPS-based. Once a container leaves by truck, we no longer track that container. For rail, we provide an estimated time of arrival at the destination based on the rail schedule. For us, the focus is on container movements through HPA-facilities from arrival to departure,” he said.

The various types of alerts users can receive include: Under imports – container discharged; container loaded to rail; container departed terminal; container arrived at destination; container out by truck. Under exports – container loaded to rail; container arrived at terminal; container in gate; container loaded to vessel.

“Additionally, users can subscribe to any of the following alerts that relate to disruptions affecting the normal day-to-day operations including: holidays, additional non-work periods, weather conditions, changes to MARSEC (marine security) level, roadwork updates, special announcements, tug delays and pilot delays.

Having the updated information on the site is a plus for the port and its users, says Captain Sean Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Pilotage Authority.

“Atlantic Pilotage Authority is pleased to provide Port of Halifax with accurate, live information on vessels requiring pilotage service that is now being posted on the port’s enhanced website,” he said. “We value the relationship our two Authorities have regarding consultation and communication and how we can both add value for our stakeholders,” he added.

Users can receive updates via email or SMS.