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Although very accustomed to its traditional practices, the shipping industry is now entering a new era with digital innovations on more than 50,000 ships currently sailing the world's oceans. In this article, Safebridge has researched and discovered the latest digital trends of the maritime industry providing an update in this evolving business sector.

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Although very accustomed to its traditional practices, the shipping industry is now entering a new era with digital innovations on more than 50,000 ships currently sailing the world's oceans. In this article, Safebridge has researched and discovered the latest digital trends of the maritime industry providing an update in this evolving business sector.

Autonomous Ships

Yes, for some of us, autonomous ships are a taboo or even a “never-going-to-happen” scenario. Isn’t this though how every innovative idea was ever introduced?

Over the past few years, companies like Rolls-Royce Marine and Japanese shipping giant Nippon Yusen have shared plans to send remote and autonomous ships to sea. These ships will remain crewed to begin with, but as the technology advances, some of the ships may be crewless by as early as 2020.

Certain companies are building fully autonomous ships from scratch, while other start-up businesses are developing semi-autonomous systems to be used on existing vessels. What is certain is that “autonomous” is likely to become a vital part of the day-to-day onboard operations.

Virtual Reality

This comes as no surprise that VR training programs are available to the market. They can be used for crew entertainment or, as mentioned earlier when in need to develop new skills. To further enhance onboard crew safety, operator-owners are beginning to investigate developments in cyborg crew - wearable technology – which can be used to monitor heart rates, accumulated steps or sugar levels, etc., in real-time, to ensure the health and wellbeing of their crew on board.

Cyber Security

Talking about digital innovations, here is a critical point we need to focus on: cyber security. We are all using antivirus apps for our phones and laptops, passwords for social media accounts or even the Two Factor Authentication. Let’s extrapolate this to an industry which carries around 90% of the world trade.

The first step in preventing cyber-attacks is identifying threats and vulnerabilities, assessing the risk exposure attached to these matters and developing both protectionary measures and contingency plans to neutralise these risks as much as possible.

E-learning

Marine training is crucial for creating and developing a “healthy” industry. What goes beyond training, is effective online training methods, which when adopted in the maritime industry, bring benefits of substantial value both for the company as a whole and the individual seafarers. This is a demanding business with continuously changing training needs, and online training solutions make the processes easier, faster and more cost-effective.

Maritime organisations are already designing innovative distance e-learning solutions to allow seafarers to learn while they continue with their work. These are online platforms which connect individuals from all over the world, while using new age solutions such as virtual equipment simulation, 3D animated marine safety videos and Virtual Reality (VR) and enable seafarers to stay longer at sea, in order to continue to develop and improve the exact skills they need.

Digital certification

It’s hard to believe that in a continually evolving industry such as the maritime industry, people still use paper certificates to ‘prove’ their skills or for legal purposes.

A different way for receiving and managing maritime certificates is an app titled myCert; instead of actually printing them, putting them in an envelope and sending them by post to the other side of the world.

Developed as a digital ecosystem, the app is connecting the three key players in this field: the issuers of certificates, the holders and the verifiers.

Seafarers can, for example, upload their certificates and sail away without worrying about losing valuable documents, while for issuing companies, this secure platform can improve efficiency with less operational costs. Moreover, the app allows for the verifier to connect more easily and work more efficiently throughout the certification management process.

All in one, this digital ecosystem resolves all the topics involving the processes that the issuers, holders or verifiers have, ensuring also higher trust levels between all parties involved.

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