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New report confirms accelerated digitization of pandemic shipments

Written by

Nick blenkey

A report from satcom leader Inmarsat highlights the impact of COVID-19 on accelerating the digital transformation of global shipping. Entitled “A Changed World: The State of Digital Transformation in a Post-COVID-19 Maritime Industry”, it was prepared by maritime innovation consultancy Thetius and sponsored by the Inmarsat research program.

The report finds that as COVID-19 emerged and global travel restrictions set in, the growing demand for crew connectivity has spilled over into the uptake of other digital services needed to keep ships running. .

“The impact of COVID-19 on vessel operations is highlighted by a massive increase in the use of remote services such as pilotage and surveying,” the report said. “Likewise, crew training and officer exams have been fully online for the first time in some jurisdictions. More generally, global trade facilitation has seen an explosion in the use of digital tools, including massive growth in consumer demand for e-commerce and the use of online reservation platforms for ocean freight.

Inmarsat’s own data covering commercial shipping during the pandemic period showed that the average daily data consumption per vessel almost tripled from 3.4 to 9.8 gigabytes between January 2020 and March 2021. In another Significant change, the report projects the global marine digital products and services market in 2021 worth $ 159 billion, 18% ahead of pre-pandemic forecast. Thetius predicts that by 2022, market revenue will be three years ahead of pre-pandemic forecasts.


“Digital solutions are now ubiquitous in the maritime sector, and one of the consequences of COVID-19 has been that our customers – and their customers – are increasingly thinking digital first,” commented Stefano Poli, vice -President of Business Development, Inmarsat Maritime. “The past 18 months have been difficult, but it has also brought about a radical shift in attitude towards IoT-based solutions for crew connectivity, safety, sustainability and vessel efficiency. The new acceptance of remote vessel surveys, for example, has led Inmarsat and Lloyd’s Register to collaborate on the first connectivity agreement dedicated to live surveys while vessels are at sea. This is just one example of the vast expanse of previously promising digital opportunities whose maritime moment has come.

“Inmarsat recently unveiled plans for ORCHESTRA, the communications network of the future that will continue to anticipate digital needs,” added Poli. “By bringing together Inmarsat’s complete geosynchronous satellite network (GEO) with low earth orbit (LEO) satellites and terrestrial 5G into a single high performance ‘network of networks’, ORCHESTRA will deliver future-proof connectivity everywhere.” including hot spots in busy ports. , passenger ships and autonomous ships.

London-based Inmarsat notes that data from the Thetius intelligence platform shows that, since 2008, the UK has produced the highest number of G7 maritime technology companies linked to operations and ship management. The UK is also second behind the US as the most abundant source of cloud computing, data and analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for the maritime industry.

A call for the UK government to step up non-financial support for innovation in the maritime sector is one of the report’s three key recommendations. Thetius also suggests that the digital momentum will be better maintained globally if the big players in the industry create a path to decarbonization with specific milestones, while start-ups would benefit from a better understanding of the dynamics. between the different actors of maritime transport to identify where their solutions can be used best.

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