Innovative geospatial solutions can help reduce environmental footprint of the growing maritime trade, especially when private and public sectors cooperate closely
Figure 1: Polar diagram shows safe speed and heading
Oceans represent an invaluable economic resource for many stakeholders, like the fishing or the mining industry; this also includes the international maritime trade. The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) recently warned that “establishing a sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world’s economy”.
The maritime traffic volume has increased substantially in the past years and the growth rate is expected to ascend even further in the years to come. The resulting amount of gas emissions from the international trade and the risk for ship accidents are proportionally intensifying. These two elements have a significant global impact on the marine environment and climate change. Innovative geospatial solutions, such as vessel and voyage planning optimisation or the e-navigation an International Maritime Organisation concept, can help reduce the maritime trade environmental footprint. However, this is possible with cooperation between the private and public sectors.
Vessel and voyage planning solutions
Vessel and voyage planning solutions integrate several geospatial data types in order to provide the navigator with an optimised ship route. When planning the voyage, parameters like the vessel’s structure, weather prediction and of course marine cartography, are taken into account automatically by the algorithm. It is then possible to ensure an efficient and safe voyage, by minimising fuel consumption for the desired arrival times, thus reducing the green house gas emission of the ship. Such an analysis can be made before the voyage using predicted parameters and the available marine charts database, and also real time on the sea via satellite communication — with updated data streams such as wind, wave, current as well as chart updates received directly on board.
In Jeppesen VVOS, a ship-specific model of the ship’s motion, engine and propeller characteristics is used to recommend speed and heading changes to manage ship motions according to the waves and wind forecasts (Figure 1). This helps the mariner make en route informed decisions to minimise heavy weather damage. The mariner can also download the latest ocean area forecasts and recalculate the passage plans as new forecasts become available or operational requirements change.
Route optimisation is performed on a user-defined grid using weather assembly and taking into account safe operating limits imposed by the mariner and ship responses. A histogram is then produced, which can be used to minimise fuel consumption for a range of arrival times (as presented in Figure 2). Many other geospatial tools, including automatic routing, under keel clearance, tide current optimisation, are now fully operational and available to the mariner. Such vessel and voyage optimisation solutions allow for safer and more economical passage, by minimising accidents like groundings and collisions as well as reducing fuel consumption and GHG emissions.
Recent technology developments, have increased the capacity of mariners to access near real-time information even further away from the coast. Data streams with information like weather predictions, wave heights or nautical charts updates are produced by various data originators. The transmission means can be radio broadcasts, satellites messages or on board sensors, for example. For the vessel and voyage optimisation process to be possible, these data streams need to be interoperable. Then, in order to bring situational awareness to the mariner, the information will need to be rendered intelligently as a non-cluttered visual. Homogeneous data streams and coordinated implementation of new maritime capabilities is managed by the IMO, via the e-navigation framework.
IMO defines e-navigation as “the harmonised collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of maritime information on board and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation and related services, for safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment”. As such, it aims at enhancing global safety of navigation and environmental protection by ensuring the implementation of intelligent information integrated solutions, which will provide critical navigational and operational information to the mariner. This information also needs to be delivered in a timely manner by combining real-time geospatial data streams from various data originators with the marine vector cartography. All the data streams, whether static or dynamic, require merging and appropriate rendering by the final visualisation system.
The data fusion process is made more complex as various parties and means of transmission are involved in the production and distribution of maritime safety information: hydrographic offices produce the cartographic base layer available on board the vessel as a core database and issue additional updates as necessary; in trafficked areas, maritime safety administrations broadcast traffic information to all ships using their Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), together with aids to navigation status updates for instance.
Figure 2: Histogram of fuel consumption trade-off with arrival times and corresponding optimum route
So as to ensure a harmonisation of existing and future data streams on board a vessel and allow for a safe passage, the International Hydrographic Organisation started working in 2001 on the S-100 data model. This data model is compliant with ISO 19100 series of geographic standards and will ensure the compatibility as well as the merging capacity of data streams produced by various data originators, emitted by different means and received by the multiple systems on board the vessel.
An e-navigation prototype, including schemes following the S-100 data model, were developed and implemented by Jeppesen for maritime safety information, meteorological and hydrodynamic data, as well as notice to mariners. This can either be broadcasted by AIS or via email, for early notice to the bridge crew and displayed directly on the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (Figure 3).
With the guidance from IMO and IHO, intelligent and timely information is made available to the mariner on the bridge of a vessel. This improves the maritime situational awareness of navigators and significantly diminishes the risk of accidents at sea. A reduced number of groundings and collisions results in less oil spills and sub-surface drifting containers. Therefore, improving navigation safety with the implementation of e-navigation and other innovative geospatial solutions also enhances environment protection.
Figure 3: ECDIS screen shot with e-navigation prototype
Private-public cooperation in furthering the sustainability and safety of the maritime trade is also important. Public bodies produce reliable and quality geospatial information which is a necessary input to the above-mentioned innovative maritime solutions. For example, official marine vector cartography constitutes the base layer of e-navigation and geospatial optimisation algorithms. However, its availability to the private sector is still critical. On the contrary, the cooperation can sometimes go further than simple data access when the private sector provide tools and services to data originators to help them improve their data gathering and information consolidation.
While public sector organisations manage public interest, create and maintain regulations, the private sector is well equipped to develop innovative products and manage product lifecycles. Publicprivate cooperation (PPC) allows both partners to focus on their core competencies and perfect the delivery in these areas. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined for instance within contractual agreements and the private sector must respect the authority of the data originator. Both parties should acknowledge their respective competencies and communicate regularly to build a strong relationship. Such PPC allows for full concentration on the common goal and an innovative future.
Private and public sectors are required to cooperate closer to provide the mariner with the best of both worlds: reliable quality data combined with innovative geospatial solutions. With efficient PPC, state-of-the-art geospatial solutions can minimise the risk of accidents at sea and the environmental impact of the growing maritime trade.
Under the guidance of international bodies, together with reinforced PPC, innovative geospatial maritime solutions can significantly improve safety of navigation and enhance environmental protection. Combining the effort of all stakeholders, we can speed up our journey towards a sustainable maritime trade and global “blue economy”.