The oceans are vital to the overall growth of the world economy and population, and to the continued economic integration of nations. The oceans are a primary source of food, energy, and transportation, all key requirements of human activity in an interconnected world. They are also essential to meet the energy security requirements, which is reliant on safe and secure sea-lines of communication.
Maritime sector is subject to both natural and manmade factors. Today, extreme weather has become more frequent due to climate change, with higher chances of hurricanes, flooding and other phenomena putting seafarers’ lives at stake. As a result, forecasting weather elements including sea state, surface winds, and tide levels before setting sail has become increasingly important. Other concerns are pollution and violation of regulations, oil spills, accidents at sea or other distress situations.
Global shipping also face several threats such as illicit trade, unauthorised fishing, Maritime piracy, maritime terrorism, Drugs & Narcotics and human trafficking. COVID-19 measures are making maritime routes the preferred target for drug smugglers. Seizures of large quantities of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and others at seaports have risen worldwide. The increase in shipping operations coupled with large container ships doubling in size in the past couple of years has provided an attractive mode of transport for drug traffickers.
African ports are also subject to this global trend as shown in major seizures at seaports in 2019. At the Port of Dakar, 798 kg of cocaine were confiscated – the largest drugs haul made at this port. And in Mauritius harbour, 90 kg of cocaine was seized. According to the latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, drug supply chains were disrupted in countries that opted for hard COVID-19 lockdown measures. This pushed up demand and prices. The reduction in air traffic and increased security on roads due to COVID-19 restrictions have redirected drug shipments to the sea and authorities are struggling to respond.
Cargo ships are preferred as they provide the safest options for drug traffickers. These vessels are the cheapest mode of transport because around 90% of global trade is seaborne. Drug traffickers conceal the drugs among other products, making them almost impossible to detect. A popular tactic is to hide drugs between fruit and vegetable shipments as these are handled faster due to spoilage risks.
The likelihood that a container will be searched is low – on average around one in ten due to the sheer volume of transported goods. Port operators are under pressure to process huge amounts of cargo in short spaces of time. On average around one in 10 containers is searched due to the sheer volume of transported goods. Increasing the number of containers checked before loading seems like an obvious solution that would push up the risk for traffickers or smugglers. However, it isn’t that simple. While the probability of detecting illicit cargo would increase, shipping operations would slow down, meaning higher costs that most operators try to avoid. Dwell-time in African ports is already on average longer than two weeks. Inefficiencies and high logistical costs from a further slow-down of operations would negatively affect supply chains and in turn, economies.
Maritime piracy imposes both human costs and economic costs on maritime shipping. Human costs come in the form not only of seafarers being hijacked and held hostage, but injury during attacks and even death. Examples of economic costs include transiting at increased speeds, the costs of military guards and equipment, insurance and labor costs, ransoms, and the costs of operating and maintaining the international task forces. Maritime safety is concerned with the protection of life and property through regulation, management and technology development of all forms of waterborne transportation.
The importance of oceans is also driving Navies for sea denial and sea control and leading to contests between regional and extra-regional defence forces hich influences the delicate balance of power and results in force build-ups and arms races.
Therefore, the management of the maritime arena is truly a challenging task due to its multifaceted and comprehensive nature. Using technology to achieve improved security and stability in the maritime domain is critical.
Ports are fundamental to the global economy, transferring up to 90 percent of the world’s goods. Yet most are in need of rapid, large-scale modernization, with operations being slowed down by vessel and truck congestion.
The problem could be resolved by using and integrating innovative technologies found in smart ports. A smart port relies on solutions such as automation, artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things and blockchain. For example, the Port of Busan in South Korea – as part of the ongoing a digital transformation – will integrate a blockchain terminal-to-terminal cargo transit system which is expected to prevent smuggling.
Smart ports are equipped with sensors, cameras, and devices, fully connected to a network infrastructure, creating a completely integrated communications system. This connectivity allows for remote control of heavy machinery and automated port vehicles, and creates a hugely more efficient and secure way of connecting and tracking all shipments and goods. Automated container weighing systems will reduce weighing times while remote controlled quay cranes will lower vessel completion time, increasing productivity by up to 25 percent.
Digitalisation improves the efficiency and effectiveness of port operations while increasing security and resilience against traffickers. In theory, this produces a maritime ecosystem defined by greater cooperation between all those involved in port operations. This includes streamlining logistics and shipping processes.
Inefficiency here can have a knock-on effect. Vessels waiting too long for port pilots to maneuver the ships into port results in longer waiting times. Plus, truck congestion is also a growing issue as ports become increasingly busy. Cellular will enable massive real-time data collection and analytics, allowing humans, sensors, forklifts, trucks, cranes, and cameras to work seamlessly together as one. Connected workers with wearable technology can move around safely in the port with Automated Guided Vehicles. These wearables will relay real-time data to the workers, enabling them to work more efficiently. But with the adoption of 5G, Indutry is making sure that smart ports are more cost efficient ports. In the case of one IoT-enabled port, optimizing vessel berthing led to a 20% average cost reduction per year, equal to roughly 2.5 million Euros.
Smart ports will unlock a new a level of intelligence by harnessing the oceans of data running through them. This connectivity can be used to solve crucial issues, like on-site safety, tightening port security, and increasing sustainability. Ports will be empowered to make timely decisions, drive new growth, and deliver benefits to employees and the local community.
However, there are challenges. One is the high cost of new technology needed for such a shift. Staff training and additional human resources expenses also need to be factored in. One of the technologies used in detecting illicit goods is the non-intrusive inspection scanner which costs around R15 million (US$1 million). Charges for civil construction, scanner tarmac, fencing and security equipment are around R2 million (US $130 000). After adding the cost of staff to operate the facility and regular maintenance, the total is around R20 million (US $1.3 million). New technology may also expose the port to new cyber risks and vulnerabilities. For instance, in 2017 criminals breached the IT system of the Port of Antwerp to smuggle drugs into the country. Drug trafficking networks are staying ahead of law enforcement by using ports as key hubs.
Maritime Security and safety technologies
Maritime security provides advanced technology to detect hazards and communicate with officials. It also renders services that help to combat potential threats. The different types of maritime security include port and critical infrastructure security, coastal surveillance and vessel security. The technologies and systems used for maritime security include access control, communications, detectors, geographic information systems, screening and scanning, smart containers, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), surveillance and tracking and weather monitoring among others.
To understand the risks, challenges and vulnerabilities that we face today, it is necessary to have a comprehensive maritime picture of what is happening at sea. Maritime security provides advanced technology to detect hazards and communicate with officials. It also renders services that help to combat potential threats. The different types of maritime security include port and critical infrastructure security, coastal surveillance and vessel security. The technologies and systems used for maritime security include access control, communications, detectors, geographic information systems, screening and scanning, smart containers, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), surveillance and tracking and weather monitoring among others. Integrated satellites, networked sensors and innovation in related maritime technologies has eased the task of law enforcement agencies but the real challenge remains to detect and track small objects and distinguish possible threats from legitimate activities like shipping, fishing and other maritime activities.
One area of maritime security is Ship security and safety at the sea, that is ensured by various maritime systems working together simultaneously. From tracking ships to ensuring immediate help in time of distress, these systems keep the shipping industry on the right track all the time.
One of important system for ship security is Ship reporting system and alerting system, which helps in sending distress signals from the ship directly to the maritime security centre. Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) system uses a maritime safety information and general communication channel to receive distress signals from ships in danger. GMDSS system takes help from various elements like INMARSAT, NAVEX, EPIRB etc. to send and receive signals.
Vessel Monitoring System or the Ship Tracking System is an important system in the shipping industry to find out location of ships across the world. It is an essential tool for ship tracking and vessel monitoring system. Long Range Tracking and Identification (LRIT) System is an international ship tracking and identification system adopted by the International Maritime Organization under the SOLAS convention to ensure a thorough tracking system for ships across the world.
The Automatic Identification System or AIS system carried by ships also helps in ship navigation and tracking system which helps to pinpoint the exact location of the ships along with other navigational statistics. The system also helps in sending and receiving real time data between ships or between ship and shore.
Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) is a vessel safety system which was introduced by the USCG to provide immediate assistance to vessels which are in emergency situation. The system helps in finding out the location of the vessel and thus provides better crises management.
The Automated Manifest System (AMS) is a freight tracking system, which requires ships to enter the details of the cargo carried by them. This system was first adopted by the United States of America in 2004 to increase the security level at maritime ports.
Vessel management system uses various tools to monitor and manage shipping traffic at the sea. With the assistance of global positioning system (GPS), VMS not only helps in pin pointing the location of the ships but also helps in transfer of important weather and environmental data.
Korea’s KT unveils self-developed ICT solutions for maritime safety
Korea’s second-largest network operator KT unveiled a range of new ICT-based solutions and technologies Tuesday geared at improving maritime security. The telecom firm’s standout technologies include a Long-Term Evolution network able to cover remote locations, as far as 200 kilometers away from land, a life jacket that can be tracked via Internet of Things technology and the creation of a new network designed for IoT devices.
“Last year, Korea, a country surrounded by sea on three sides, saw around 900 maritime accidents during which some 2,000 people died, “Oh Sung-mok, vice president of KT’s network division said during a ceremony held Tuesday in Seoul to introduce KT’s new technologies. “In light of the growing importance of maritime safety, KT has developed a number of ICT solutions to protect people from such accidents at sea,” he said.
Long-Term Evolution network able to cover remote locations, as far as 200 kilometers away from land
KT’s most notable technology is its patented LTE Time Advance network, which depends on a set of horizontally distributed antennas to quadruple the network coverage distance from a given base station to a mobile device to 200 kilometers, compared to 50 kilometers for conventional LTE networks. The new network technology grants those far from land, such as ocean research stations, access to fast and stable internet via KT’s LTE network, the firm said.
“We believe 200km is the farthest network coverage ever reached by a telecom company. We plan to export this technology in the future as it may be useful in other countries,” Oh told reporters.
Life jacket that can be tracked via Internet of Things technology
The Korean network operator has also teamed up with materials and fashion firm Kolon Industries to develop an IoT-based life jacket that can help track down people and aid rescue missions in the case of maritime accidents.
When a jacket wearer falls into the water, a water pressure sensor detects the change and inflates a rescue tube. The IoT module inside the jacket also sends key information about the wearer’s physical condition to the rescue center, KT said.
“We will cooperate with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries to distribute our jackets to local fishermen in the near future,” Oh said. Looking ahead, KT is planning to commercialize a specialized network designed for IoT as well — the Narrow-Band IoT that transmits data from devices to its existing LTE networks at low speeds and low power.
Weather forecasting technology
Because of Climate change and resulting diasters, forecasting weather elements including sea state, surface winds, and tide levels before setting sail has become increasingly important.
Atmospheric radio occultation relies on the detection of a change in a radio signal as it passes through a planet’s atmosphere, i.e. as it is occulted by the atmosphere. When electromagnetic radiation passes through the atmosphere, it is refracted (or bent). The magnitude of the refraction depends on the gradient of refractivity normal to the path, which in turn depends on the density gradient. The effect is most pronounced when the radiation traverses a long atmospheric limb path. At radio frequencies the amount of bending cannot be measured directly; instead the bending can be calculated using the Doppler shift of the signal given the geometry of the emitter and receiver.
GNSS or GPS radio occultation (GNSS-RO, GPS-RO, GPSRO) is a type of radio occultation that relies on radio transmissions from GPS (Global Positioning System), or more generally from GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), satellites. This is a relatively new technique for performing atmospheric measurements. It is used as a weather forecasting tool, and could also be harnessed in monitoring climate change. The technique involves a low-Earth orbit satellite receiving a signal from a GPS satellite. The signal has to pass through the atmosphere and gets refracted along the way. The magnitude of the refraction depends on the temperature and water vapor concentration in the atmosphere The relative position between the GPS satellite and the low-Earth orbit satellite changes over time, allowing for a vertical scanning of successive layers of the atmosphere
Data analysis firm Spire Global, has recently launched its flagship product, Spire Maritime, specifically dedicated to developing satellite data solutions for the maritime industry. The San Francisco-based start-up recently launched a fleet of its own CubeSat satellites to track ships by analysing radio wavelengths and gather atmospheric and oceanographic weather attributes, including sea surface temperature, ocean currents, wave height, surface wind, and air temperature.
According to Lusk, the current challenge facing the industry is the lack of data on initial observations. “The Pacific Ocean is huge and is currently served by one or two meteo satellites providing images on top of a handful of buoys and balloons,” he says. This is why he claims that Spire’s satellites could be “a game-changer” in terms of safety at sea: “Imagine an 80-satellite constellation with tens of thousands of scans and balloons per day over the entire pacific ocean of the entire atmospheric column.”
In the words of GlobalData Solutions vice-president John Lusk: “[Spire] addresses the number one problem businesses will face in the next 100 years – our ever-changing climate.” Tracking weather conditions – which could reduce accidents and save lives – Lusk says the technology can also help “save the environment, reduce fuel consumption while increasing operational efficiencies” by optimising route planning. Its technology uses sensors to detect and analyse radio signals sent by GPS satellites through the atmosphere, capturing precise information on sea temperature and pressure.
Ships are tracked and monitored using an automatic identification system (AIS) data and application program interface (API). Each CubeSat satellite collects and transmits weather data 10,000 times a day — six times more frequently than older models, Lusk says.
“[Our] Maritime Weather API utilises the data collected from Spire’s 84 satellites to provide a highly valuable 1/8th-degree resolution forecast for all oceans and seas,” Lusk adds. “The API enables shipowners to ingest climate data and match it with where vessels are located.”
Alongside tracking weather conditions – which could reduce accidents and save lives – Lusk says the technology can also help “save the environment, reduce fuel consumption while increasing operational efficiencies” by optimising route planning.
In addition, Spire’s weather forecasting tool could help turn the tide on the prevention of cargo sweat – potentially damaging condensation that appears on cargo being shifted from warmer to colder temperatures. As Lusk details, “Shipowners need to know how best to ventilate based on relative humidity and dew point temperature forecasts. “Our data can assist in optimising ventilation of cargo holds to prevent cargo damage.” Finally, Spire’s technology could be used to track ships involved in the trafficking of arms, drugs, and illegal commodities.
Shipping industry is being transformed through machine learning and data analysis. “Data is quickly becoming a part of everyday life in maritime,” he says. “From ship route and weather forecasting, to tracking accurate arrival times, data is changing maritime.” Lusk is bullish about the company’s future prospects, and concludes that the opportunities to utilise predictive data “combined with our analysis and algorithms, [will] fundamentally change, and improve operational efficiencies within the maritime industry.”
Drug trafficking networks are staying ahead of law enforcement by using ports as key hubs. The growing demand for illicit drugs and the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns suggest that seaports will continue to be targeted by drug trafficking networks. Balancing security and efficiency at seaports will be crucial.
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