The challenges of retaining regulatory compliance are increasingly numerous for superyachts, especially those operating in multi-jurisdictional EU waters. The amount of documentation required by port state control is a well trodden bugbear for captains and their senior officers and has led to the germination of a burgeoning market in software solutions to ease the burden on captains and managers.

One such company is Isle of Man-based yacht management solutions provider i-BOS Limited. Below, web designer Martyn Cain outlines the technological developments that are driving the enhancement of these software solutions and improving the operational efficiency of the fleet...

Cloud servers have spelt an end to sharing files between systems in multiple jurisdictions. Now different departments and offices can log in to the same system, acquiring as much or as little information as required. Security is absolutely paramount in these circumstances and every move within a system can be audited.

But what benefits does a cloud server offer? Having the ability to log on to a shared server to conduct business dramatically cuts down on email correspondence, the hazard of dealing with duplicate or out of date documents now also ceases to exist. Data protection is paramount when dealing with information such as bank account details, owner contact information and other such sensitive material. As such compliance has notoriously been quite a minefield. How and where data is stored has long been a bone of contention for many companies. Cloud storage doesn’t offer all the answers to this but as it isn’t, by its very nature, tied down to a particular jurisdiction, the cloud server within Europe has been favoured to store and transact information.

It would be hard to deny the biggest influence on our work and personal lives is the smartphone. Two years ago the number of mobile users exceeded those using desktops for the first time. The same year, figures from Nielsen indicated that 89 per cent of time spent on a mobile phone was through apps.

This figure is huge and perfectly illustrates how we go about our daily lives. If this is what we consider to be the norm now, why not integrate it into our working life?

Many companies have started to take advantage of this by launching mobile platforms and applications for all areas of a yacht’s life. Planning tools for shipyards allow project management on the move, document management for crew welfare, and regulation can now be shared between captains or managers and authorities. Owners can also monitor and approve invoices and expenses outside of office hours. All of these have dramatically cut down workloads for the various people involved in the running of a superyacht and the processes involved in this operation have become smoother.
As a relatively new application to office tech, digital signatures are becoming an increasingly common tool to use in the superyacht industry. Digital signatures give a highly secure method of document approval without the need to print anything off. Their applications for superyachts can be seen, for example, in the recruitment of new crew.

As has been the normal procedure in the past, a new crewmember is asked to join midway through a charter and their details need to be taken. These details somehow need to get back to the management company (either posted or emailed). The management then needs to have forms and contracts for the new crewmember signed, which would historically involve printing out the documents, posting them to the vessel and physically having them signed and returned. It has been known for this process to take weeks, but with digital signatures it could take minutes.

Image courtesy of Airship.

A new starter form and seafarer employment agreement are kept on a pdf, the appropriate fields are filled in and the crewmember signs the documents via a check box. The file is sent to the captain, who can counter sign and email the management company. Each time the file is opened the user must log in, this then audits who has read, or if access allows, changed content within the file. For the most part the file is locked in 'read only' and 'sign' mode. As digital signatures become far more commonplace, authorities and registries are opening up to accepting them as a valid form of authenticity.

Using digital signatures and mobile devices together really lets us see how the workplace on board and in the office is going to change in the near future.

Another application to improve compliance, crew recruitment and charter procedures is facial recognition software. I have seen instances where this has been used to authenticate passports of guests. Photos are taken of the passport and of the guest, and the software matches the faces to verify they are the same person, while scanning the passport to determine if the document is valid.

Disruptive technologies are rendering traditional means of crew operation obsolete.

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