Smart Cities but Smart Ports?


The concept of ‘Smart Cities’ has been around for some years and is described as ‘one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected available data and information to better understand and control its operations and optimise the use of limited resources’ (Source: IBM). Now ‘Smart Ports’ are emerging across the world. According to CEO, Jens Meier, the Port of Hamburg Authority’s strategy has allowed the port “to develop intelligent solutions for traffic and trade and, by optimising the flow of information, operate in a ‘port-smart’ manner”.


Boston Consulting Group recently released a report entitled ‘To Get Smart, Ports Go Digital’ in which the role of data and information is highlighted as being critical to future success. The UK Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, ‘Navigating the Future’, seeks to ensure that UK ports, and the maritime sector generally, combine with other sectors to support the UK’s industrial strategy as an integral component of the international strategy for the oceans (see image). However, significant challenges need to be overcome if UK ports are to emulate the most advanced ports in Europe and South East Asia.

Emergent trends, including ports becoming data hubs enabling wider economic activity with autonomous operations and systems, whilst reducing emissions and improving air quality, are gathering momentum. Even so, UK ports still require further investment in the human dimension, through re-skilling, to enable a more flexible use of assets and embrace advanced technology such as digitalisation, AI and machine learning. This will need an appropriate climate for investment, innovation and development, backed by an integrated regulatory framework, and a deeper understanding of what it really means to be a ‘data driven’ business or become ‘data centric’.

The UK Major Ports Group and The British Ports Association, of which OceanWise is a member, are up for the challenge alongside the UK Government to make this happen, but we need to move swiftly to ensure we are not left behind in the race to become ‘Smart’. OceanWise is already helping many of is ports customers to become ‘Smart’. To find out more, talk to us, download our white paper or attend our Marine Data Management Awareness Course on 16 October 2018.