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Disparity in progress delaying digital adoption in maritime

Photo: Marcus Hand green-corridor-panel.jpg
The disparity in progress on digitalisation in maritime in different parts of the world was highlighted by speakers at the Marinetech conference in Singapore.

Speakers in the Digital and Green Corridors panel at the conference in Singapore Maritime Week highlighted the vast difference between ports such as Singapore and Rotterdam that are currently developing a digital and green corridor and many other ports still heavily reliant on physical paperwork.

Pascal Ollivier, Chair of Data collaboration Committee, International Association of Ports and Harbors, noted that there was a very advanced environment in Singapore with the digital port, but it was not like this everywhere. The reality in other locations was somewhat different with both a lack of standards and data. “Most of the time we live in a world that is hardcopy, pdf, email, and What’s App.”

Ollivier said today there were a number countries that were moving towards implementing the Maritime Single Window by 1 January 2024 as defined the International Maritime Organization (IMO), but there were also a huge number that had no system to get data on a port call. He gave the example of Fiji where 75 documents were required for vessel clearance, all either in hard copy or email.

Martijn Thijsen, Head of Ecosystem and Platform Play Digital Strategy and Transformation, Port of Rotterdam, saw a need to enable different speeds of adoption between those catching up with common and ports such as Rotterdam and Singapore trying to take the lead in digitalisation.

“I think the discussion here this week should be how can we walk and run at the same time,” he said.

For example, in port call optimisation all the regulatory measures are in place, but it requires the “walkers” to catch up for this to be globalised. “But can we run on the corridor at the same time with the fast movers whilst respecting global standards, because that's the only way we have adoptions.” Otherwise more industry specific standards would result – a situation that no-one wants.

It would require finding common denominators for global standards which would sometime require the faster runners to slow down a bit, but also the walkers to speed up sometimes and adopt new ideas.

Andre Simha, Global Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), and Chairman of Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) said that relatively creating standards was the easy part, but the difficult part was driving adoption.

“So, we need to find ways to promote the adoption as DCSA. And we also as carriers in a united way, of course, because if MSC promotes a particular standard to its customer base, but the other carriers don't, that doesn't work. So, this is why we do it together,” he stated.