Having returned from a two-day meeting of minds on “e-navigation” hosted by the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) on board the Pear l Seaways cruise ferry, which carries passengers and vehicles from Copenhagen to Oslo and back again all year round, I was left in no doubt that new, ground-breaking developments are on the horizon in marine navigation and traffic management.
The DMA is about to embark on a new project that could revolutionise the way information is shared in and around the maritime sector for smarter traffic management at sea. The “EfficienSea 2” project aims to lay the groundwork for the
creation and implementation of the “Maritime Cloud”, a service oriented communication framework that would be based on available communication systems and include a maritime identity register to enable “the maritime internet of things” – i.e.
a comprehensive e-maritime and e-navigation environment for the benefit of the full mix of legitimate maritime stakeholders. Setting a governance standard will also be a critical part of this pioneering project, which will cover a host of other important
e-navigation related technical work and trials to reduce the risk of accidents in dense waterways, as well as increase the efficiency of the transport chain and minimize administrative burdens.
The project will be carried out over the next three years in cooperation with 32 partners from the shipping, maritime, R&D and academic communities in 10 countries and from international organizations, such as the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). It has an allocated total budget of Euro 11.5M, of which Euro 9.8M is European Union-funded.
The term e-navigation refers to “enhanced” navigation by improved information exchange through electronic means, enabling the seamless and real-time transfer of data between ship and shore, shore and ship and between ships in a given sea
area. Much work has been done by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) over the past eight years to put flesh on the concept of e-navigation, which is principally concerned with enhanced berth-to-berth navigation and improving accessibility
of related marine services for sustainable safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment. Based on this work, the IMO’s principal technical body, the Maritime Safety Committee, last year approved a Strategy Implementation Plan
or “SIP” for e-navigation.
Which precise form implementation will take, will in part depend on the outcome of various “test bed” or demonstration projects already underway or newly planned in various parts of the world, such as the Malacca and Singapore Straits, the North Sea Region, the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea, with projects conducted under an
array of fancy names like Marine Electronic Highway, AccSEAS, EfficienSea and MonaLisa-Marine Navigation by Intelligence At Sea. From the viewpoint of IMO,
it will be important to ensure that outcomes are coordinated with a view to achieving harmonized implementation based on internationally agreed standards to suit the needs of a global industry like shipping. Aware of this imperative need, the
Maritime Safety Committee, also last year, approved guidelines on the harmonized reporting of test beds.
Also significant is that the Committee, in approving the SIP, agreed that the development of e-navigation solutions should focus on five priorities, namely:
standardized and automated reporting systems;
harmonized and user-friendly bridge designs that are
improved reliability, resilience and integrity of bridge
equipment and navigation information;
integrated presentation, in graphical displays, of available
information received from communications equipment; and
improved communication of available Vessel Traffic Services.
These are remarkably clear yet very ambitious objectives. It will be interesting to see how e-navigation solutions will develop in the years to come. Will they succeed in enthusing the upcoming generation of marine navigators and users of shore-based
shipping traffic information and management services? Watch this space!
Aline De Bievre has had a long career as a maritime journalist and reporter on IMO regulations for the international shipping press. She joined the Secretariat of the International Maritime Organization in London as a technical writer in 2008, with special responsibilities for drafting speeches for delivery by the Secretary-
General at IMO meetings, writing presentations for senior directors at external events and editing key IMO documents. She is a longtime Member of The Nautical Institute and a Fellow of The Royal Institute of Navigation.
(Reproduced from Bow Wave Issue 691 – Brave New World Edition – 16 Feb 2015)