“Change will never be this slow again” – proclaims a well-cited quotation referring to the digital transformation of our society.
Recently a fellow EU-funded project DigiPort organised a workshop for their stakeholders, with an aim to map out the main challenges experienced in harbours today. DigiPort itself addresses harbours’ business opportunities, with an intention to reform them with the tools provided by digitalisation and open data, and in general to look for new ways to take advantage of this giant wave of digitalisation business. (Read more about the project’s objectives and strategy here.)
ECOPRODIGI attended the workshop with the sole goal of listening and learning of 1. how stakeholders in similar projects are identifying their challenges, 2. what type of solutions they are considering, and 3. to meet professionals working in the industry, which is of course always the most interesting part in any given industry event.
The day did not only provide a comprehensive look on the challenges faced daily in many harbours, but also provided a comprehensive and multi-faceted look of the characteristics of open data, and the opportunities it offers – together with the associated restrictions.
The participants were indeed the most beneficial source of information possible, as within an hour the professionals had listed dozens of challenges which they deal with every day. These challenges were grouped under four themes; 1) “The operative efficiency, flexibility and reliability in harbours”, 2) “The flow, accessibility and availability of information within harbours”, 3) “Security and environmental issues”, and 4) “The functionality and infrastructure of traffic in harbours”. Each theme generated a wide range of observations, which DigiPort happily harvested and will undoubtedly use as primary data in the project.
One of the recurring issues raised under each of these themes was the lack of space in harbour areas; this caused several challenges, and was seen as a root cause for many indirect challenges as well. Communication issues were also evident, both within the individual harbours, but also between them. It was also stated that many felt frustrated due to the poor use of modern tools, and wished for a rapid revolution from the ‘old ways’ into the new – i.e. digital ones.
It is clear that a change is on its way, and that there is a high demand for it. The solutions which are developed in both DigiPort and in ECOPRODIGI are pieces in a greater puzzle, which the maritime industry is navigating through; and it is only by working together and learning from each other that we can form unified, coherent standards which will carry through into the fourth industrial revolution.