In May 2022 our Managing Director Caroline Levey attended the Smart Digital Ports of the Future event in Rotterdam. Below she gives us her insights from what she felt was an “excellent conference on Digitalisation in Ports which highlighted the need for better data sharing and interoperability”.
“Refreshingly the first two panel sessions kicking the conference off were focussed on data standards, data sharing and the need for interoperability. It struck me how fitting it was to see this important subject being given the ‘air time’ that it deserves and that data sharing had been identified as a key area for growth and development for the Ports Industry.”
Why is it so key? Ports collect a massive amount of data and a huge proportion of that data is highly valuable…..if managed well. If a port can share their data within their organisation, and with other parties, in a straight-forward way, it will undoubtedly help them move forward on their smart port journey.
I am proud to say that OceanWise has always had standards, interoperability and data sharing at the heart of our products and systems (*1 – see below for more details). It became very clear to me from watching these first few sessions, that any provider who creates systems for ports – be that Master/Pilot Exchange, Port Community Systems, Logistics, Environmental Monitoring etc – they must approach it with interoperability in mind. Systems need to be built enabled to talk to other systems, using open methods such as API’s.
“Every decision about technology investment in a port can be both an opportunity to move down the pathway to smart management OR to put another obstacle in the way” (quote from Environmental Management white paper)
The larger Ports who presented at the conference appear to be considerable steps ahead of most in developing ’smarter systems‘ – Ravenna in Italy, Valencia in Spain, and Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia all demonstrated how the systems they were implementing were making the Ports more efficient. What will be interesting for the future is how this translates to smaller ports or trust ports, or in fact any port who may not have the same access to funding or investment.
Image courtesy of Port Technology
One issue which cropped up several times during the conference, and therefore should be taken into conversation for ports implementing ‘smart’ change, was around people – and more specifically how the transition to being ‘Smart’ would affect the workforce. Does the implementation of new technologies mean people will lose their jobs? Reassuringly from those who presented, it was clear that this was not the case and instead employees were being ‘upskilled’ to learn how to use these innovative technologies for improved efficiencies all round.
Overall, it was a great conference with some impressive technology on show. Take all the shiny software and impressive marketing away and the key message for me was that data sharing is the only way that we can really make a port ‘Smart’. Data and data sharing are now being taken seriously and not just by the IT department, it is now firmly on the agenda for all parties and at all levels. My favourite quote from the conference was “Digitalisation is not an IT project, it is a Change Management project”. I couldn’t agree more.”
OceanWise have recently published a white paper for port professionals on smarter management. Download your free copy here
*1 – OceanWise created various methods (an API and a Data Streaming Service) very early on for our environmental monitoring system, Port-Log. Whilst the system was initially built as a solution for VTS teams to safely manage vessel movement by accessing real-time environmental data, it became clear that enabling users of other systems to receive the data would be beneficial to the port as whole. For example, the same real-time wind, wave and tide data is shared to pilots, crane drivers, terminal operators, dynamic under keel clearance, scientists, hydrographers, leisure users and even weather forecasters. See our case study of this in action at Associated British Ports (ABP).Back to News