The Steward Call app interacts with the crew’s radios. The crew can simply be called by the owner via the app on his or her smart phone. This can also be done via an iPod Touch.
“We’re trying to come up with new things all the time to help the crew,” explains Jack Robinson, director of commercial development at Net-Logic Marine. “When we talked to crew, one of the problems was where the call information goes. If it goes to a buzzer in the pantry, a crewmember has to be in the pantry all the time. It’s not very convenient. So we said, what is something that’s always with the crew? The radios.”
To avoid confusion when multiple stewards and stewardesses receive the alert, the system allows crewmembers to ‘accept’ the call. “If you had a pager system, six stews would get the message, six stews would be in different parts of the yacht and six stews would all turn up to the same room,” Robinson explains. “You’re wasting time and it doesn’t look very professional. With this, one stew will accept the job and the others will be instantly notified that that particular stew has accepted the job and they don’t need to attend.”
Further integration of the VesselWatch system with the yacht’s AV and IT systems can take this further, to the point where owners can send food requests, questions or tender calls to crewmemebrs. “You receive the information directly from the owner,” explains Robinson. “It’s actually less intrusive for the owner and frees up your time because you don’t have to stand in the corner looking at the room.”
"If you had a pager system, six stews would get the message, six stews would be in different parts of the yacht and six stews would all turn up to the same room."
The second new software from VesselWatch is the safety-oriented SMS app. “Alarms are very crucial on board,” Robinson explains. “Most yachts, even during a refit period, will leave the engine room and fire alarms on. The problem is, if no one’s on board, no one’s going to hear the alarm when it goes off.” The SMS app tackles this by sending an automatic message to crewmembers’ smart phones when an alarm goes off, with information about the specific alarm going off. Following this, the software, which requires the VesselWatch system, gives the crewmember receiving the alert the option, via his or her smart phone, of messaging other crewmembers directly to their digital radio to check the situation. “You message the crew as you would do via something like Whatsapp, but it goes straight to their digital radio,” explains Robinson. “‘Bob, can you check the generators? I’ve just had an alarm through. Send the message. Bob’s your uncle.”
Net-Logic Marine’s focus on the opportunities offered by digital radio systems lies in the context of IUT mandates for the move to digital high-compression radios. “America was trying to regulate and as the biggest comms regulator in the world, usually everyone else will follow.”