A-Z of Voyage Informatics – Part Two

We recently posted Part One of our Voyage Informatics A-Z. Here we offer Part 2 of our handy guide.  This section had more than a few challenges!

Network – A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital interconnections to share resources. The network is the basis of communication in IT, as the computers connected share information. From the most basic tasks such as communicating using email, video, instant messaging, and sharing devices such as printers, to sharing software and operating remote systems. A ship’s network system uses information from sensors, such as navigation, cargo and machinery systems and uses digital communication to communicate, record and control aspects of the vessel. 

Operations – Doing the do. The operations of a vessel are key to not just capturing data, but improving the way that systems are created to streamline the digital transformation. The DataOps elements of a ship and shipping as an industry span many information technology disciplines, including data development, data transformation, data extraction, data quality, data governance, data access control, data centre capacity planning and system operations.

Performance Optimisation – What it’s all about. Whether the focus is on smart navigation, fuel efficiency, hull performance, machinery performance or other optimisations. These are the areas where data is increasingly making a difference. We could have included planned/predictive maintenance or procurement, but believe all of them can be optimised through data augmentation.

Quality Assurance – Data quality refers to the state of qualitative or quantitative pieces of information. Generally, data is considered high quality if it is fit for its intended uses in operations, decision making and planning. Bad data gives incorrect information, which ultimately impacts the quality of actions taken. We need to ensure what comes into the process is timely, correct, useful and actionable. Shipboard officers and ship managers ashore need data as part of the decision-making process, which is fit for purpose, and which is available, complete, consistent, useful, timely and accurate.  Data quality assurance is the process of data profiling to discover inconsistencies and other anomalies in the data, as well as performing tasks such as data cleansing and improving data quality.

Records – The terms “data”, “information” and “records” can all be thrown around interchangeably, but all mean different things. Data records represent the actual data that is or has been analysed and manipulated from a vessel. Records management is a vital part of any digitalisation process and is a core part of the maritime informatics landscape. Knowing how data is stored, structured, retrieved and interrogated is the basis of good management ashore. Good records and data management means that operations can be improved, that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be assessed and in the event of things going wrong, then data records become a pillar of defence in any disputes. Increasingly, record keeping guidelines and requirements are emerging from the likes of equipment manufacturers, Classification Societies, insurers and flag States. 

Standards – Data standards are the guidelines by which data is described and recorded. Standards are vitally important when it comes to sharing, exchanging, combining and understand data. Standards make it easier to create, share, and integrate data by ensuring that the data are represented and interpreted correctly. Standards also reduce the time spent cleaning and translating data. There are moves toward better standardisation in shipping, but there are also standards from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). These are ISO 19848, which is a data standard that applies to the structure of the ship, and to shipboard machinery and equipment. The standard is intended for implementers of software used for the capture and processing of sensor data from ships. While ISO 19847 is a standard for shipboard data servers and edge devices and contains minimum requirements for input and output interfaces, functionality, interfaces and performance. It also contains systematics for configuration, test requirements and environmental requirements tailored for maritime.

Training – Whatever tasks are to be completed onboard a ship, then training is vital. Even before joining, seafarers will have been through the various courses and programmes which correspond to their levels of competency and rank. When it comes to Information Technology, data, sensors and all the attendant systems then training in these is fundamental to using the tools to develop the data, which can improve the vessel. There are cybersecurity considerations, and training makes a massive difference to the security of the vessel.  There are concerns the current regulatory standards and requirements are not matching or aligned with the modern digital environment on an increasing number of ships. Industry experts state that maritime training is not currently preparing for the work they face onboard. While traditional seamanship is important, and the skills to understand navigation basics are key, there is also a need to embrace reforms that would bring the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention in line with the rapid technological advances the shipping industry is making.  We consider this subject frequently under #operationscentre2050 and our founder has covered this in an article on Codefarers — the birth of new seafarers.

United NationsConference on Trade and Development– (UNCTAD) The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation made up of 193 Member States, dedicated to maintaining international peace and security. The UN created the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is the guiding document on how nations deal with maritime issues, boundary disputes, control of the oceans, and freedom of the seas. Its role goes beyond that though, and it is the pillar of a global rules-based system that allows nations to exist, trade and hopefully thrive. UNCTAD is the part of the United Nations Secretariat dealing with trade, investment, and development issues and has done a great deal of work on digitalisation of trade and shipping.

Obviously, shipping is a key part of this, not least because 70% of the planet is water, and 90% of trade is carried on it. This means that the UN has to focus on the sea and ships, and in order to do so, has its own specialised agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Which works to ensure safe, secure and clean shipping. The rules which govern how shipping does what it does are laid down by the IMO and then translated into national law for Administrations to apply on the vessels flying their flags.

Vessel Traffic Services – (VTS) is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbour or port authorities, comparable in some respects with air traffic control for aircraft. The International Maritime Organization defines VTS as “a service implemented by a competent authority designed to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protect the environment. The service shall have the capability to interact with the traffic and respond to traffic situations developing in the VTS area”. Typical VTS systems use radar, closed-circuit television (CCTV), VHF radiotelephony and automatic identification system (AIS) to keep track of vessel movements and provide navigational safety in a limited geographical area.As shipping becomes ever more connected and smarter, then there is a focus on VTS being able to hook into the data to provide ships and ports with ever more efficient movements. 

Weather – The weather remains one of the most important and influential forces which shapes the day-to-day operations of ships. However big ships get, and however smart, there is still a constant struggle against mother nature. Seafarers have been battling weather since mankind first took to the seas, but thankfully there are new tools, insights and intelligence which do give crews a chance to exploit favourable conditions or be prepared for bad ones. Expert weather routing, charter party compliance and claims guidance services are crucial to the success of any voyage. Based on the most accurate meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) data available, combined with unique proprietary algorithms, expertise from highly skilled marine meteorologists, oceanographers, and master mariners, FleetWeather provides optimum routing and forecasting assistance for any fleet, vessel or voyage.

XP – Does this make you think of Windows XP? Windows XP was the operating system produced by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. It was the successor to both Windows 2000 for professional users and Windows Me for home users. It was released to manufacturing on August 24, 2001, and broadly released for retail sale on October 25, 2001. So 20 years on, it is still remembered – not least as there are rumours that some ships today still have computers onboard running it. Amazing. XP also stands for Extreme Programming, an agile software development framework that aims to produce higher-quality software. XP is an agile framework created in response to problem domains whose requirements change. 

Yoda Condition – In computing a “Yoda condition” is when a piece of computer syntax is inverted or swapped around, for example, where instead of declaring a variable equal to a constant, the programmer declares a constant equal to a variable. Shipping has to be so careful that the route to maritime informatics is not driven by the current demands of shipping today, rather than how it can be in the future. The dog not wagged by tail should be. Which is a Yoda joke, not a typo.

Zettabyte – A zettabyte is a unit of measurement used to describe a computer or other device’s storage capacity. The number of bytes is equal to 2 to the 70th power, also expressed as 1 sextillion bytes. The Zettabyte Era is a period of human and computer science history that started in the mid-2010s. Defined as when the global IP traffic first exceeded one zettabyte, which happened in 2016, or when the amount of digital data in the world first exceeded a zettabyte, which happened in 2012.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as we did putting it together! If you agree or disagree, let us know. If you would like us to dive deeper into one or more of the categories just drop a line. Join the conversation and…………

Stay connected and safe.

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