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Inmarsat report highlights digital acceleration driven by pandemic

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A report by maritime consultancy, Thetius and sponsored by the Inmarsat Research Programme, identifies the scale of shipping’s digital transformation resulting from Covid-19.

The study – ‘A Changed World: The state of digital transformation in a post-Covid-19 maritime industry’ -  reveals that the pandemic’s restriction on travel and the need for greater crew connectivity have been mirrored by an uptake in other digital services for ships to continue operating safely.

Inmarsat data reveals that average daily data consumption almost tripled per vessel between January 2020 and March 2021, from 3.4GB to 9.8GB, taking the world’s maritime market for digital products and services to a value of $159bn this year – 18% higher than pre-pandemic forecasts. Next year, the Thetius consultants predict that this market will be three years ahead of forecasts made before the onset of Covid-19.

“The impact of Covid-19 on ship operations is evidenced by a massive increase in the use of remote services such as pilotage and surveying,” the report says.

“Similarly, crew training and officer examinations went fully online for the first time ever in some jurisdictions. More broadly, global trade facilitation saw an explosion in the use of digital tools, including massive growth in consumer demand for e-commerce and the use of online booking platforms for shipping freight.”

Stefano Poli, Inmarsat’s VP of Business Development, noted that the company’s customers, and their customers, now think digital first. “The last 18 months have been challenging, but they have also brought a seismic shift in attitudes in favour of IoT-based solutions for crew connectivity, safety, sustainability and ship efficiency,” he said.

“New acceptance of remote ship surveys, for example, led Inmarsat and Lloyd’s Register to collaborate on the first dedicated connectivity agreement to livestream surveys while vessels are at sea. This is just one example of the vast scope of previously promising digital opportunities whose maritime moment has come.”

Poli highlighted Inmarsat’s plans for Orchestra, a communications network of the future that will continue to anticipate digital needs.

“Bringing together Inmarsat’s comprehensive geosynchronous (GEO) satellite network with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into a single high-performance ‘network of networks’, Orchestra will deliver future-proof connectivity everywhere – including to hotspots in busy ports, passenger ships and autonomous vessels,” he said.

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