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Real-time situational awareness to spearhead Port of Rotterdam’s future

Real-time situational awareness
Port of Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and is ready for the future by being able to flourish in safety, efficiency and sustainability. The port is using a digital twin as a basis for real-time situational awareness of all things static, moving, human-driven or autonomous, pulling together all the geographic, sensor, and real-time information to provide managers, operators, safety personnel, and others with a complete, current view.

The vision is to include a global network of ports and supply chain partners who will pave the way for the automation of transportation by automating and optimizing port operations with IoT.

Digital twin as a basis for real-time situational awareness

The digital twin is a virtual representation of the real world. The port will not have a single digital twin system but will be facilitated with a digital ecosystem. Throwing more light on this, Erwin Rademaker, Program Manager,  Port of Rotterdam says, “We already have the core of the ecosystem with Cisco, IBM and Esri as technology partners. “

The port with Cisco technology has already securely connected the dynamics of the physical port with the digital world: through sensors, edge computing and data communications.

In case of IBM, the port is using the technology to gather the dynamic data at a central platform where they have access to all kinds of services to enrich the data: streaming analytics, cognitive services, weather models, artificial intelligence, etc.

Meanwhile, using Esri’s technology the port is able to put all the data, both static and dynamic, in the 3D context of the port and do dimension and location related calculations.

Now the question arises how does real-time situational awareness help in operations? Before we devolve into this further let us look at first what is real-time situational awareness.

Real-time situational awareness

Situational awareness (SA) or being aware of location is paramount in almost every sphere of life. Real-time situational awareness is all the more emerging today because of a confluence of new technologies:

According to Wikipedia situation awareness is the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event. It is also a field of study concerned with understanding of the environment critical to decision-makers in complex, dynamic areas from aviation, air traffic control, ship navigation, power plant operations, military command and control, and emergency services such as fire fighting and policing; to more ordinary but nevertheless complex tasks such as driving an automobile or riding a bicycle.

Also Read: Importance of situational awareness in combat

How does real-time situational awareness help in operations?

Real-time situational awareness is mostly needed for the vessel traffic management in the port. Being a mission critical operation, Rademaker says, “We are responsible for as the Port of Rotterdam Authority.  Real-time situational awareness is more important for accurate predictions on the likes of weather, water and traffic conditions, so we can mitigate risks before incidents take place, while still improving our efficiency and sustainability in the port area.”

The port also uses real-time situational awareness to keep a check on the safety aspect. It helps to determine when and under which circumstances vessels can enter the port. “The amount of tugboats, mooring lines and safety distance needed are derivatives from a lot of dynamic conditions,” says Rademaker.

The road ahead

The port uses industrial grade sensors that are connected through Cisco hardware and Kinetic for security and management functionality. The port is also starting up the transition to 3D maps instead of 2D. “Before 2030 we will see the first autonomous vessels berthing in the Port of Rotterdam. Those vessels will not be able to sail in the port with just their own situational-awareness systems, they need information from ours too,” adds Rademaker.

Also Read:

Location intelligence and augmented reality

Managing the environment using GIS