ICT in Maritime Transport Chain - Unleashing Potential for the Future
Blog: Markku Mylly, Executive Director, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)
Published 16.6.2016

Getting a comprehensive overview of activity at sea is a challenge for most different stakeholders. To implement maritime policies effectively, governments and authorities need detailed, reliable knowledge about what happens at sea, in real time. To the ship owners, charterers and other actors enhanced shipping efficiency and many environmental related challenges are the main concern in maritime domain.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has the ability to tailor maritime information according to unique operational requirements. Precise services can be provided responding directly to the specific needs of diverse maritime users across Europe. EMSA’s Integrated Maritime Services (IMS) are offered based on advanced maritime data processing, combining information from all the Agency’s maritime applications as well as external sources. EMSA’s expertise and availability in the processing and use of remote sensing Earth Observation products is a key element to the successful provision of these services, specifically in the case of CleanSeaNet the EU oil spill and vessels detection monitoring services.

SeaFocus 2016 discussed among others interesting new ICT solutions and possibilities for the shipping industry. We discovered enormous potential and this places us on the door step to defining moment for shipping industry. By unlocking this huge potential, smart and competitive shipping can make a giant jump into the future and benefit all these smart and futuristic solutions already today.

In the future shipping is fully dependent of Information and Communication technology. This new linkage to ICT is well known and it creates a lot of potential for future shipping – enhancing efficiency, improving safety, security and environmental responsibilities and making shipping more attractive as industry.


Despite the fact that ships carried an estimated total of 10,0 billion tons of cargo in 2015 - around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 percent of global trade by value - the maritime industry lags behind alternative transport industries in terms of its use of information and communications technology.

Maritime sector clearly needs an enhanced approach to develop a Maritime ICT Cloud. The ICT solution described as end-to-end offering that combines a managed cloud solution with industry applications, service enablement, connectivity management, and consulting and systems integration services.

Today ships rely largely on manually updated traffic, cargo, port, weather and safety information that is sent point-to-point rather than made available to all parties simultaneously via a network. This is a time-consuming process and the lack of access to real-time data significantly increases the margin for error.

In Europe we are quite far ahead of other world which is based on Directive 2010/65/EU. This directive set obligation to the Member States that they shall accept the fulfilment of reporting formalities in electronic format and their transmission via a single window no later than 1 June 2015. This single window shall be the place where all information is reported once and made available to various competent authorities and other Member States.

On commercial side there is still a lot of possibilities to link the business, i.e. shipping world to different services. Maritime ICT Cloud could connect vessels at sea with shore-based operations, maintenance service providers, customer support centers, fleet/transportation partners, port operations and authorities. At the same time, this I cloud service could enable operators and managers to manage fleets, monitor engines and fuel consumption, oversee routes and navigation, and ensure the wellbeing of the crew.

These services can be offered today via and from satellite connections to application support in one complete package, and manage operation of the Maritime ICT Cloud on behalf of its customers.

Vessels, which are sailing all over the world already have majority of the systems in place that allow them to monitor critical functions of the vessel, follow the fuel consumption and environmental emissions, set and maintain an optimal course and ensure the welfare of their crew, but they are not particularly well integrated with fleet management systems onshore and they do not maximize the potential of real-time data.

Maritime ICT Cloud could enhance the efficiency, environmental challenges and deliver major benefits in the following main categories: voyage optimization, environmental friendliness, cargo monitoring and crew welfare. Fuel is the single biggest expense for any ship owner, and also a major source of emissions that are harmful to the environment. Using engine diagnostics and up-to-the minute information about weather and traffic conditions both at sea and in ports, Maritime ICT Cloud enables ship captains to optimize their voyages to save time, fuel and money while also limiting environmental damage.

As a result of the latest amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (2006), ship owners are expected to provide broadband connectivity for crew communication, entertainment, training and telemedicine. Maritime ICT Cloud includes a multi-service communication platform with optimized connectivity and bandwidth for different types of traffic. The end results include increased staff satisfaction and retention rates, efficient coaching and development, and increased ability to cope with health crises as they arise by remotely accessing medical information.

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