Using data to drive innovation and efficiency in the shipping industry has been a hot topic in the maritime world in 2016. That trend will continue at Shipping2030 later this month when experts and leaders from the maritime and technology industries will be in Singapore for an event that aims to answer the big questions behind the industry’s evolving landscape.
Attending the event will be MarineTraffic Partner Dr. Argyris Stasinakis, who will join a panel that will discuss the subject Data as a new business opportunity in Maritime.
Having attended and presented at various maritime and technology conferences around the world, Argyris believes the agenda for Shipping2030 is both ambitious and timely.
“I think the agenda as a whole is very interesting and I really like the title and the perspective that it gives, that there are developments on the way that will have an impact on the maritime industry not just within the next few years but within the next couple of decades. This is something we at MarineTraffic appreciate very much,” Argyris said from his Oxford office.
He agrees that Big Data has been a recurring theme at many maritime related events around the world in 2016, and believes the reason why it’s become such a hot topic this year is because the shipping industry is making a concerted effort towards efficiency.
“The maritime world is renowned for being a conservative arena for many reasons, and as such people have been trying to do their business as they always have. But of course in other industries within transport, aviation for example, regulation was much more stringent in terms of safety and punctuality, and they went further ahead and this is now happening to the maritime industry. There are also temporary phenomena, which relate to the whole crisis in the global economy and of course in the maritime industry. Crisis leads to a need for efficiency as a necessity. And efficiency can be achieved by studying data and making decisions based on data rather than hunch. We have definitely seen a lot of this happening in 2014 and 2015 leading to big developments in 2016,” Argyris explained.
When questioned about how the MarineTraffic mission to bring transparency and efficiency to the industry fits into this wider picture, Argyris was quick to point out that “MarineTraffic is proud and happy to be one of the beacons of transparency in the maritime domain.” He says this a well meaning transparency, not trying to put people ill at ease, but on the contrary trying be useful.
“We were the first ones to portray where vessels are on the map, openly and very easily accessible to everyone and essentially that has definitely been an element in the recipe to our success as we grew to become the business that we are now. The AIS data that we handle has been improving impressively over the past few years in terms of coverage, to the extent that we now track global fleet with little gaps.”
Argyris believes the AIS global data set is very mature and people now realise that there are multiple applications around it, many of which relate to operational efficiency.
“This could be efficiency for the vessel, for the port, for the supplier. It is efficiency that essentially reduces cost and makes people happier, because their jobs become more well managed, simpler and there is a lot of opportunity space there at the moment. Marinetraffic is trying to tap into this, as are many other service providers.”
Argyris says MarineTraffic receives a lot of interest in the services and data it offers from a wide range of industries and stakeholders.
“If I were to pick a pattern that has been emerging over time it’s people trying to understand how stories told by AIS data correlate with other events happening in the world.”
Why would they want to do that, I ask, a question that brings a smile to his face.
“Because essentially they want to see if there are patterns in vessel flows, in vessel traffic, in relation to routes, to cargo, to trade, that essentially correlate with their businesses. In order to do that they must study the past, and they can do that through historical data. Once they discover the very valuable correlation they are then in a position in their own business world to leverage the power of the AIS data to forecast patterns in their business and make educated decisions.”
So how does Argyris see big data shaping shipping in the future?
“At the moment all sorts of big data is being collected, which is directly resulting from assets within the maritime industry, from vessels, from ports, but also from assets that relate to the maritime world, such as cargo and the commodities being transported. What we will see happening over the next ten years is some sort of data revolution that will see all these data sources come together in innovative analytics and algorithms, and that will allow us to understand the whole interaction of shipping, within the world that it serves.”
He says the ultimate goal is obviously for companies to make some sort of profit in the business they operate.
“So, will we be able to minimise waiting times at ports by improving flow of vessels towards ports, which will have an impact on impact bunker consumption but also on CO2 emission, I believe it will. Will there be greater safety security in commodity trading by understanding shipping supply and demand imbalances, I believe there will. There are many great ideas going forward and investors are showing interest so I expect great things to definitely happen.”
It all makes for a very exciting few years ahead believes Argyris, which is why he is looking forward to Shipping2030 and another opportunity to visit Asia.
“Asia is obviously a very active maritime region, both as a producer and consumer, that is very much part of MarineTraffic plans, which is why we maintain solid working relationships with various companies in the region and why we are always happy to participate in important events in Asia.”