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Semantics of events

Departing from traditional messaging paradigms, the BDI shifts towards event-driven information collection at the source, fostering efficient and secure communication through proven publish-and-subscribe architectures. The semantics of events is therefore an important subject.

Events trigger information exchange

Events to be shared among stakeholders are the result of things occurring in a business activity, such as ‘Actual Time of Arrival at berth’ (ATA at berth). Thus, business activity occurrences (events) are triggers for the related exchanges of information (technical IT events).


Familiar terms

In daily practice, people have been talking about statuses, milestones, locations, organizations, entities, data elements, transaction data (orders, invoices, transport documents, etc.), master data, and so on for many decades. People are completely familiar with such terms, which does not apply so much to the more theoretical way of identifying relationships with uniformly defined events as a means of describing context.


Details of events

In daily practice, participants already connect an event like ‘ATA at berth’ to various other things, like the location, the vessel, and then to transport document(s), organizations (vessel owner/operator, terminal operator, parties named on the transport documents, etc.). The occurrence of an event can also mean that a certain status or ‘milestone’ has been reached (e.g. import container can be collected from the maritime terminal). In practice, those links are usually provided in descriptive text documentation.


Connecting ‘formally’

In the event-driven model, connections are made in a ‘formal’ way. That formal way can be made available to IT systems in various ways that allow those systems to make automated use of those connections.


Information exchange for coordination

The choice to start from the event is very logical from the perspective of coordinating activities in transport, logistics, and supply chains, for example. That coordination very often starts with the exchange of information related to a relevant business event. It could be the sending of a purchase order by a buyer to a seller, the arrival of a ship at the berth of a terminal, or the delivery of a parcel to the recipient (usually the buyer).


Events affecting business activities

In addition, there are many other business events about which various parties want to exchange information with each other because that event has important implications for their business activities.


Aspects of events

According to EPCIS (ISO/IEC 19987), an event contains at least the following four aspects:

What, where, when, and why.

  • What – to which object or entity does this event primarily relate (e.g. pallet, order, truck, wagon, etc.)?
  • Where – at which location did the event take place (warehouse receipt door, terminal access)?
  • When – on what date and time did the event take place?
  • Why – the reason (and in which business activity exactly) that the event took place (goods receipt, freight collection, transport document definitively agreed, etc.).
  • It may also include the ‘How’ aspect. In what state (how) is or was the cargo being transported at the time of the event?
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