The transition from paper to digital from a mariner’s perspective

July 31, 2019

 

Some procedures remain key to safe navigation but today’s digital bridge offers connectivity and services unimaginable a decade ago says Ourania Tampouratzi, Marine Consultant, GNS

What began as a safety-based initiative driven by the IMO’s decision to mandate the use of ECDIS, has now become a continuous digital evolution, with new advances in technology making the bridge an easier place to work and improving safety and compliance.

It’s a process I’m proud to be involved in; in my role at GNS I am able to use my own personal experiences as a mariner to help shape the products and services that today’s mariners and operations managers use every day.

The ship’s bridge has changed remarkably in the decade since I have been involved in navigation and the technology available is paving the way for even more changes. For me, the way the digital transformation has transformed the life of the seafarer most, is the way it has enabled vessels and mariners to be more connected – both to the office and with the rest of the world.

I graduated from the Greek Maritime Academy in 2010, sailing as a third officer and then a second officer. In these roles, my main tasks were assisting the Navigation Officer with Navigation command and Conn during navigational watches.

This included ensuring latest editions of all electronic and paper navigational charts and publications were available as well as carrying out corrections to all charts and publications. I also conducted safety training for crew on a daily and weekly basis with reference to emergency procedures, firefighting and abandon ship drills, office record-keeping of safety certifications of crew and task sharing assignments to junior officers.

When I was sailing, I liaised closely with the Safety Officer on audits and inspections held by Port State, Flag State and Class and I was also responsible for passenger and crew safety drills, abandon ship procedures as well as maintenance and inspection of fire flighting equipment and life-saving appliances.

The focus on safety was paramount and also very broad – we were required to manage a range of tasks without shore-based intervention.

Vessels are no longer remote and isolated from information, support and advice. Instead, increasingly seafarers and office based teams all participate and share in one digital ecosystem that enables them to exchange information between ship and shore in a way that enhances compliance, safety and operational efficiency.

The best of these systems are designed to enable the ready adoption of new technologies. With GNS Voyager for example, we have built a set of complementary tools that all work together to provide end-to-end solutions and services that connect ship and shore-based stakeholders and provide a single version of the truth on which operational and other decisions can be made.

Voyager has been carefully and deliberately built as a modular system so that is fully scalable. It meets today’s requirements for navigational safety, compliance and efficiency, but also goes beyond that. By investing in both core and emerging technologies we have been able to build and evolve our digital ecosystem.

Cloud services, data analytics and data management as well as cyber security are key areas of focus for us. Our data analytics expertise in particular is now adding value in areas such as purchasing management, performance management and, now increasingly benchmarking and commercial decision-making.

One of the differentiators for GNS in a market with a lot of solutions on offer is our data analytics capability. We have been collecting data since 2015 and can see every vessel in the world in ways others can’t. Voyager provides a window onto that data – providing our customers with unique levels of information, insight and transparency – both on the bridge and ashore.

In terms of navigation, relationships have always been important. In the old days, you had to be able to trust your chart agent to send you the latest paper charts and publications to wherever you needed them in the world. If a chart agent let you down, you were either stuck in port or at the mercy of local suppliers.

In today’s digital age, dependability and trust are equally important; but for different reasons. In the digital era, you need robust systems you can rely on and you need 24/7 service and support for those systems.

At GNS, we like to think of ourselves as a partner that helps to drive innovation and supports our customers with the data insights they need to operate safely and efficiently and can grow as our customers adopt, consume and leverage new technologies at scale for lasting impact.

To remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace, you need a strong focus on your customers. In my role I spend lots of time with customers, so I am able to listen to their concerns and frustrations and be proactive in addressing their needs.

A huge amount of work has gone into building Voyager and our data assets in a modular and scalable way. As a result, we can be very responsive to customer needs and develop, change and upgrade any product very quickly.

It’s an exciting time for the maritime industry, a lot is changing and the speed of that change is increasing all the time. I think closer collaboration between shipping companies and the supplier community will only benefit customers in the long run.