SEAWAY SET TO LAUNCH PORT AUTOMATION PROJECT

SEAWAY SET TO LAUNCH PORT AUTOMATION PROJECT

The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. will launch a pilot port automation project in August.

Using a number of electronic communications technologies, the project will

allow disparate elements of the Seaway's maritime and trade communities to deal with each other electronically instead of over the telephone or with paper."What we have in mind is to provide electronic data interface for companies and individuals" with an interest in goods that move over the Seaway, said Carl Quast, chairman of the board of Chicago-based brokerage and freight forwarder Quast & Co.

"This project will provide updated information to cargo interests, vessel operators, ship agents, pilots, receivers, shippers, freight forwarders and customhouse brokers," Mr. Quast said.

Called the Seaway Automated Information System, the project will use a mix of electronic communications technologies that includes electronic mail, digital bulletin boards, and electronic data interchange, said Dennis Deuschl, director of communications, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Electronic mail is the transmission of text information over telephone lines. Computer bulletin boards allow members to post notices about services and other matters. EDI enables companies to conduct business using strict- ly standardized electronic mes- sages.

The Seaway Automated Information System will initially use a single EDI message, said Hedi Scanlon, a Washington-based consultant with Chicago- headquartered Price Waterhouse.

A working group composed of members of the Seaway trade and transportation community "found the estimated time of arrival information was very phone intensive," Ms. Scanlon said, so the working group decided to start off with an EDI estimated time of arrival message.

The working group hopes the pilot project will demonstrate the viability of EDI and other elec- tronic messaging technologies, she said.

August's effort is a "pilot project," the Seaway Development Corp. said. The government agency that administers the U.S. portion of the Seaway is requesting proposals from electronic communications networks and other services.

The request for proposal will take until the end of the summer, Mr. Deuschl said. The winning networks or services would then conduct the demonstration pro- gram starting around August, he said.