The crossover between shipping and yachting can be, at times, tenuous, but the parallels outlined in the ‘Enabling Big Data’ session of the Ship Efficiency Conference were obvious.

Inmarsat’s COO, Trond Leira began proceedings with a stark warning: “A lack of understanding of what’s going on on board is tantamount to having a virus.”

This was the view of the panel as a whole, in what was a critical but necessary character assassination of the industry’s competence when it comes to data processing.



Captain Jan Wilhelmsson said the maritime industry has been guilty of sticking to what it knows, failing to develop the way data is processed and analysed at the same rate as the technology it measures.



For some reason, he said, too many operators are dismissive of three or four per cent fuel savings, but when these savings are extrapolated to an annual figure, this oversight is “unthinkable”.

‘Waste reduction’ he explained, was big data’s key pursuit, and in this sense, hybrid technology represents the future of ship efficiency – not because of its environmental benefits but because of the 1000s of tweaks on board that inadvertently optimise the vessel’s performance.



In the context of efficiency and costs, SpeedCast’s Martin Reason listed the connectivity costs of different sectors of a vessel.

In ascending order the communications drain went: engine monitoring, cloud storage, ECDIS, cyber security, telemedicine, file distribution and crew.



Crew are the biggest drain on a vessel’s bandwidth, mainly due to the number of devices they bring on board, their propensity to use VoIP services to contact family and friends, and the central role online products play in their leisure time at sea.

On this last point, it was agreed by the audience that ‘budgeting’ crew bandwidth could afford a vessel two benefits – improving connectivity speeds and ensuring that hours of work and rest are properly observed.

And on the subject of cyber security, said Joseph Carson of ESC Global Security, it has become a management issue and one that is underestimated. Owners are constantly exposed to three key threats – organised crime, nation state monitoring and terror groups.



“We’re moving towards a 100 per cent threat rate whenever a vessel is connected to the Internet”, and he advocated the more widespread adoption of crew and DPA security awareness training.



The session concluded on a slightly more positive note as Pole Star Space Applications’ Peter Davies presented his company’s latest application program interface (API) project to create a ‘maritime internet of things’, which he asserted has already led to reduced port state vessel verification times and improved emissions monitoring among participants.



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