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Smart Cities

What does living in smart cities mean for privacy?

In the 2000s we are witnessing an exponential growth of the use of information technologies – smart cities or smart ports are becoming the norm. These are slowly pervading all aspects of modern life, including smart refrigerators, smart doorbells, smart plugs, smart bathrooms, etc. The revolution has also affected a larger societal section, with smart cities and smart ports also gaining traction in progress. We have already talked about certain smart technologies that affect port operations, such as Digital Twins, Drones and Smart Containers. Nevertheless, we haven’t yet asked the question: What does this spread of smart technologies mean for us as individuals?

This month, we have caught up with Brad Smith from Turn on VPN to talk about what these advancements mean for our privacy.

If you would like to know more about what VPNs are, check out the guide written by VPN Thrive.

Then, have a look at the article by Brad Smith, reproduced below: 

 

Written by: Brad Smith

Written by: Brad Smith

The idea behind a smart city is one where technology is extensively used to improve the quality of life of people living in an urban area and ease the provision of everyday services. This can mean sophisticated connectivity across the city, automated systems, highly available online resources and so much more.

However, this kind of setup also comes with a few challenges that aren’t normally so pronounced in a traditional city with privacy being the biggest one. How does living in a modern city affect people’s rights to privacy especially in places where privacy laws are not that strict?

Smart cities trends and their privacy implications

There are certainly many components that make a modern smart city in 2020, especially the ones that are built from the ground up. However, three of them do stand out in the way they affect your privacy as you go about your day to day life. Also, keep in mind that some of these technologies have been heavily deployed in traditional cities.

Increased citywide public surveillance and tracking

There is a lot of interest in using citywide public surveillance systems in smart cities across the world. These technologies have especially taken centerstage in the Middle East, China, and some European countries. Sophisticated public surveillance and tracking technologies are being deployed in smart cities to help the authorities in enforcement efforts and for other reasons.

However, such technologies, though useful in some places, do raise a lot of questions in the way they are deployed and how they are used especially with privacy and personal freedom in focus. Indeed, the debate around citywide surveillance has attracted some fair amount of controversy with some progressive governments even going as far as banning the use of these technologies in public.

Citywide connectivity and high-speed internet

The rolling out of 5G and other connectivity solutions in smart cities is integral to their development. A smart city without a stable, high-speed internet that is accessible to everyone is not a smart city. Today, even traditional cities that are trying to transition into modern cities have put a lot of resources into communication technologies such as 5G, public Wi-Fi, and other supporting infrastructure.

Government services moving to the cloud 

A smart city must have a big percentage of government services available via the internet. Indeed, most smart city projects today are geared towards moving entire government services to the cloud. This of course means an increase in data collection.

Increased popularity of smart ports

Another smart city trend is the invention of smart ports. A smart port is one that makes use of automation and innovative technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and Big Data to improve performance. The industry of container shipping and ports has been slow on the uptake in embracing change. Still, new systems, solutions, and technologies are emerging that will change the face of shipping in the future, ensuring the sector is more connected than ever before.

The smart port aims to generate transparent and efficient services that add value to the clients. An intelligent port features automated management of all entries and exits at the terminals, monitoring, and managing queues. The smart port removes the need for paperwork during container deliveries and collections, as well as automatic lighting.

In port cities like Montreal, emerging technologies provide useful real-time data for lorries to help them plan their trips and avoid traffic congestions, and lower carbon emissions.

This real-time data and smart sensors go a long way in monitoring crucial infrastructure, enabling the port operators to schedule predictive maintenance and reduce the need for yearly inspections. The data from the sensors, such as pile head sensors in the quays, allows the ports to track the eventual tear and tear and track the impact of cargo yet to be unloaded.

Privacy concerns over today’s smart cities

All of the technologies being deployed in smart cities today require the collection of data on a large scale. This, as expected, raises a lot of questions in terms of privacy going forward for people living in these so-called smart cities. How do you ensure that your right to privacy isn’t lost when everything’s made to collect your data?

Ways to protect your privacy

One way to stay private is to use tools like a VPN or encrypted messaging software. One of the major functions of VPNs is to encrypt your data and online traffic. This is especially important when you want to stay anonymous while connecting to public networks. With a messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption, you can also keep your conversations private.

There is no doubt that living in a smart city is more convenient and sustainable than in a traditional one. As you enjoy all the benefits that come with the advanced connectivity in these urban dwellings, don’t forget the importance of staying private.

Smart Ports: Piers of the Future

Smart Ports: Piers of the Future, a window to the world

Logo - Smart Ports

Showing the world the advances in the digitalisation and sustainability of ports is necessary to promote the development and decarbonisation of maritime-port activities. Smart City Expo World Congress, an international event focused on urban evolution and innovation, has become the ideal setting in which to do this.

Therefore, in the ninth edition held in November 2019, the Port of Barcelona organised an exhibition space called Smart Ports: Piers of the Future to which it invited the most advanced ports in the world in this field. These ports were: Antwerp, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Montreal and Rotterdam.

Smart Ports - Piers of the Future 2019

Participants at the Smart Ports: Piers of the Future event at the 2019 Smart City World Congress Expo

A new edition of Smart Ports: Piers of the Future’ is being held again this year and, as a novelty, the Port of Busan —the largest on the Korean peninsula— will also be present.

This time, due to the current pandemic, ‘Smart City Expo World Congress’ will be held in a virtual format called Smart City Live 2020. Similarly, ‘Smart Ports: Piers of the Future’ has developed its own 100% online platform where you can stream the event. The event will take place on November 17 and 18 under the motto ‘Thinking Ahead, Globally’.

The Smart Ports: Piers of the Future agenda includes topics such as: Digital Playbook, Innovative Technologies, Cybersecurity, Energy Transition, Smart Piers Cities and Blockchain, among others. In addition, as a partner of Smart City Live 2020, Smart Ports is collaborating on a panel to discuss ‘smart ports’ – ‘smart cities’. Jordi Torrent (Strategy Director of the Port of Barcelona), Jens Meier (CEO of the Port of Hamburg) and Gene Seroka (CEO of the Port of Los Angeles) will take part in this debate.

Smart Ports 2020 is emerging as the ideal opportunity for the exchange of ideas, projects and initiatives related to the sector, and will act as a global partner of Smart City Expo World Congress. It is an event of global relevance that seeks to give visibility to proposals, business models and innovation, focused on ports and their relationship with the world. This event will serve to show the importance of having a smart and digitalised port, committed to the environment but, above all, connected with the inhabitants of their cities and the planet.

IoT impact on Port Operations

The IoT (Internet of Things,) known as the ability to connect devices and objects through a digital network, is a term that has ceased to be new and has slowly become part of our daily routine. Nowadays devices connected to the IoT permeate our homes, with people relying on devices such as Roomba, smart refrigerators or Alexa. IoT’s capabilities are much more powerful and each of the sectors of our economies have taken advantage of the benefits of this technology operations and management.

When looking at the maritime industry, and ports in particular, we can see that the advantages of incorporating IoT into their operations for the interaction of M2M (machine to machine) in telematic devices and sensors has resulted in a positive impact. Shipping has recognised that the best strategy for the future is no longer to prioritise massive physical growth but rather to optimise flows and logistics processes. Given this need, the IoT provides the ability to manipulate, control and monitor actions – an important step (albeit not the only one) within the grander scheme of things.

Initially we saw the IoT utilised to optimise the mobilisation of containers in terminals, monitoring of the control of working hours and accesses, towards the activation of equipment, control of cranes or prediction of maintenance. All this could be summarised not only in information reports but also in future opportunities. Knowing the data is always beneficial but knowing what to do with it is much better and this is the real gain from the process. To correctly identify where the processes can be optimised is the most difficult job of the sensor data collection. To date no universal algorithm or formula exists, and each terminal, each product and each country has a different dynamic that must be evaluated and readapted to involve the complex analysis of experts who actually manage to identify the weak sections of the processes.

On the other hand, the IoT is common practice of digital ports even if this does not mean that everything is done digitally. Monitoring, control and data collection have become daily routines, but the prediction of many activities is the new leading characteristic that the IoT is taking. It entails predicting supply chain breaks, equipment failures and many other aspects that are associated with artificial intelligence.

The cons?

What are the downsides? The main concern is that such implementations may expose the ports and organisations relying on digital data collection to unauthorised external interventions or cyberattacks. Nevertheless, large companies have understood that it is part of the risks to be mitigated, and that without these strategies sooner rather than later companies that do not adopt them will lose competitiveness.

The future?

Information is becoming more and more valuable. At the same time, it is becoming more public and freely accessible. The IoT interconnects equipment to obtain information; this information then collaborates between companies to obtain benefits. The scope of the IoT has managed to expand to all those who indirectly interact with logistics or port activities. We have left behind the information gap that in the past was termed the “Maritime Adventure”, and today exporters need to have constant control of situations to optimise the supply chain.

From a direct link to the truck driver through an app interconnected with the port community system, to the most detailed environmental control system, the IoT has infinite contributions in the port activity. It can be customised to the needs of each actor and promises to have event higher levels of performance with the emergence of 5G (in the not-to-near future).

 “According to IDC (International Data Corporation), there are already nearly 200 billion computerised devices, with 20 billion of them wired and communicating via the Internet, and more than 50 billion sensors that track” around the world. The maritime sector, as the majority holder of international transport, has the responsibility to act efficiently and safely to reduce costs in a globalised market. This requires the optimisation of each of the shipping processes, and that in any case the IoT is a tool that allows to promote these objectives.

With the world constantly becoming “smaller”, and speed and accuracy becoming more important to customers and operators, there is hardly any doubt that the Internet of Things is the language of the future – and it is up to us to knows this language and to learn to decipher the information collected by it to improve the door-to-door supply chain, and the operations in the ports in particular.

For more information, check out these articles:

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Blue Innovation – Digital Twins

How can ports innovate with the Internet of Things?

In recent years, the shipping industry has been playing catch-up with many innovative trends that other industries have embraced. One of those trends has been the concept of digital twins – the idea to use the Internet of Things and Big Data to create a virtual entity that essentially operates in the same was as the physical one. So what are digital twins, and how can they be applied in the Blue Economy?

A digital twin is “a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. By combining the physical and the virtual world, data is provided enabling the virtual entity to exist at the same time with the physical entity”. Within the digital system, replicas of physical characteristics can be used and tested, both to streamline efficiency and to troubleshoot potential problems. If set up and programmed correctly, digital twins can even ensure that physical tests are not necessary to implement any changes.  Today there are estimates that predict that in the next decade, these innovations will account for 10% of improvements and effectiveness of more than half of companies across all industries.

How does it work?

The technologies used to create the virtual representations of real objects are unquestioningly complex. Put simply, the twins use “digital tools and real-time data to virtually create, test, build and monitor a product or process – closing the feedback loop between design and operations.” As previously stated, the goal of these is to improve and test new designs and processes without disturbing ongoing operations – a factor that could be critical when it comes to transport operations in a globalised port. Imagine testing out new, more sustainable bunkering operations in a port at absolutely no risk or delay in transit time for the vessels – any port authority’s dream! The systems can achieve this by using artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse the data put in, and thus come up with accurate predictions for operations, designs, processes, etc. For example, using this approach within a port it would be possible to accurately “predict what the best time is to moor and depart”, therewith significantly reducing wait times and financial losses. An article by Port Technology on the subject exemplified this very accurately: “With a digital twin of the port, it’s possible to calculate exactly how much cargo needs to be unloaded there. This allows the vessel to sail sooner and with more cargo to its final destination”.

The technologies have already been applied to all industries – from Formula 1 races to Space exploration missions to actual humans. Perhaps the most impressive of all digital twins is the one that exists of an actual city – namely of Singapore. In 2018, Dassault Systèmes completed the virtual simulation, called 3DEXPERIENCit, which helps city planners analyse and improve energy consumption of its citizens, alongside other aspects of their everyday lives. Talk about Smart Cities!

What about Smart Ports?

Within the Blue Economy, digital twins have already begun to emerge. Virtual copies of vessels, simulations of transport operations, among other things have already helped improve operations. Ports are not lagging far behind in this revolution either – the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, has enthusiastically invested in the endeavour, which is being developed with the help of the Rotterdam Port Authority, Axians, Cisco, IBM® and many others.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/04/23/7-amazing-examples-of-digital-twin-technology-in-practice/#332afba76443

The project, aptly named Port Vision 2030, “establishes where action is needed to ensure that companies can operate optimally within the Global Hub and within Europe’s Industrial Cluster.” Using IBM Internet of Things technology, the Port strives to become the first fully digital port by 2030, and simultaneously the model Smart Port for others to follow.

During this year’s Smart Cities World Expo Congress, which will take place in Barcelona between the 19th and the 21st of November 2019, innovative new technologies will be showcased and presented to all attendees. The event will also play host to a SmartPorts Summit, which will bring together the world’s top 10 smart ports, and give them the opportunity to showcase their most innovative projects in sustainability, digitisation, innovation and mobility. There is still time to register – check out the passes and join the Escola’s team on the Expo floor.

Written by:

  • Lidia Slawinska, Consultant – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Sources:

The Port of Barcelona to present 4 sustainability projects in Smart Ports

The Port of Barcelona will present four environmental sustainability projects during the upcoming Smart Ports conference, which will take place on 19, 20 and 21 November within the framework of the SmartCity Expo. This was announced by Emma Cobos, the Business Development Director of the Port of Barcelona, during a meeting of the members of the Propeller Club Barcelona, held in Barcelona at the beginning of October.

One of the projects that the Barcelona port will present at the Congress will be the traceability of container goods, “which has a very open mobile application for users,” said Cobos.

Another one of the initiatives that the Port Authority of Barcelona will present to the public at the fair is the electrification of docks, “which responds to social and institutional pressures in the face of the environmental emergency,” said Emma Cobos.

The Port of Barcelona will also explain the project of traceability of the entry and exit of vehicles and trucks in the terminals, “where situations are generated that we hope to solve through a digital reservation system,” explained Cobos.

Finally, Emma Cobos advanced that the work of the Catalan port to “make navigation at sea smarter” will also be presented at the Smart Ports Congress. The goal of this fourth project in terms of environmental sustainability, is that “our customers can have greater visibility of when you can dock at the port and can know when there is free space to do so,” added Cobos.

Thus, representatives of the Port Authority of Barcelona will participate in the event with the aim of bringing the Smart Ports concept closer to that of an intelligent city. “The port is a very important part of the city and we want to highlight to those intelligent cities that in many cases they need intelligent ports”, explained Emma Cobos.

Other ports

The Port of Barcelona will share the floor space with the Ports of Antwerp, Hamburg, Montreal, Rotterdam and Los Angeles, all of whom will also participate in the Smart City Expo. Each port may submit four projects that present environmentally, economically and socially sustainable solutions. In this way, “we will present initiatives that each port has implemented in the industrial field, based on technological innovations”. To date, the programme has more than 60 speakers.

For more information on the port of Barcelona, or on the SmartCity Expo World Congress, you can go to the event website. For registration, you can click here for a 25% discount.

Source: Diario del Puerto

Blue Innovation – Drones in Port Operations

Let’s talk about Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAs) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)! These unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, have already been incorporated into our society for their flawless ability to take exceptional videos and photographs. Nevertheless, global transport and logistics companies are looking to take advantage of their functionalities and the shipping industry is not lagging behind.

Within the contributions that an RPA can already offer to transport operations we have:

  • Inspections of physical structures and patrolling of security rounds;
  • Routine inspections for maintenance of buoys, pipes, docks, breakwater cranes, roof-ships and other structures that are conventionally difficult to access;
  • Stock measurement to calculate (bulk) volumetric mass inventory;
  • Detection of irregular situations, leaks or abnormalities through (thermal and gas) sensors, as supplemental emergency support without the need to expose people to the affected areas;
  • Measurement and control of environmental aspects, detection of contamination and tracking and monitoring those responsible for the environmental breaches;
  • Mapping and surveying;
  • Generating audio-visual records of inspection for the authorities or for historical archives;
  • Among others.

The truth is that RPAs have many positive functions to bring to the port community. It is necessary to recognise that not all functions of these high tech devices are positive, and therefore an airspace overflight control would need to be established and regulated. Ports like Rotterdam, Hamburg or Antwerp have already begun regulating the use of RPAs, and allow for their use in certain operations or for inspections under previously established regulations or approvals. The port of Amsterdam has recently tested the Marine Anti Drone Systems (M.A.D.S). This system gives the port authority the possibility to try to control and protect the airspace in order to avoid violations of private security, terrorist attacks and fly-hacking, among others. It is vital, when taking advantage of these devices, to take security and other potentially negative repercussions under consideration.

One of the most interesting commercial cases of the use of RPAs in port areas cases has to do with the service of the company Willensem in Singapore. The company has been able to obtain test authorisation for an “Agency by Air” with which they intend to supply ships with small spare parts, documents, supplies or even consumables for 3D printers. This system will replace shipments by boat in order to reduce economic costs, lower pollution, and ensure faster and risk-free trans-shipment-delivery.

Similarly Airbotics, a company of Israeli origin, has incorporated the devides into a wide range of services. Some of those are applied to the maritime sector where they control traffic and monitoring in port, and undertake supervision on environmental and health issues, inspection systems and inventory tracking. Together they are supporting the construction of the port project in Haifa through mapping and inspection.

In Chile, APM Terminal works with drones for general supervision operations and risk detention. Their devices have a loudspeaker built into the RPAs, allowing the operator to give directions to truck drivers or other people on the ground.

As a final example we could mention the Balearic Islands Port Authority (APB), which has initiated a pilot programme to control and manage the public port domain by using drones in the port of Alcúdia to supervise port operations and environmental control. Currently they perform a weekly flight operated by a specialized company that provides a video and 750 orthophotos.
When it comes to RPAs and UASs, the possibilities for the shipping industry are endless. Companies have only touched on the surface of the possible applications that could be implemented to maximise productivity of the ports, enforce sustainable regulations within the port borders, and improve overall security. As with all new technologies, however, this comes with additional costs and ethical and security considerations. Ports would need to ensure a risk-free airspace for the drone operations to be successful, and if surveillance is involved, that all parties entering or leaving the port are informed of it. The ports we have listed have already taken a first step towards this incredibly exciting future – and we do not need to wait long for the rest of the world to showcase their applications.

For more information you can go to:

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

The Dawning of 5G

As the digitization of industry and the global economy continues, a necessity for reliable, faster and more secure networks to connect businesses and the global supply chain continues to grow.

It is no surprise then that major companies and service providers, such as IBM and Vodafone, are forming joint-venture initiatives to test and develop a 5G ecosystem which, according to President of Mobile Networks with Nokia, Tommi Uitto, can generate new potential for automated operations and artificial intelligence.

While the worldwide implications of 5G technology are myriad, with leading companies Nokia and China Mobile seeking to create a more open and interoperable form of architecture for high-speed networks, its application to the ports and terminals sector could be game-changing.

As Dr. Yvo Saanen, Founder of simulation specialists TBA Group explains above, there is a need to connect a port’s assets, machines and people to systems, thereby increasing the safety and efficiency of cargo-handling operations.

The ability of 5G to optimize operations and “transmit data safely within milliseconds” is already being trialled as part of the Wireless for Verticals (WIVE) research project, one of many initiatives demonstrating the technology’s value as a catalyst for improved performance.

Faster and Smarter Networks

It would be easy to focus on the speed of 5G alone, especially when the development of this technology is likely to produce much shorter network response times for a wide variety of industries, including the logistics and port sectors.

However, as the University of Surrey’s world-leading 5G Innovation Centre underlines, the next evolution of connectivity is more significant than catering to the individual needs of everyday consumers: 5G is as much about “machine-to-machine” as it is “people-to-people”.

The flexibility of 5G networks, to “evolve, adapt and grow” is vital to the progress and implementation of this next technological phase which will allow applications to perform the “bandwidth-heavy” tasks demanded in the future.

Other benefits of 5G, as explored by key industry players like Nokia, include its prediction capabilities, security and reliability, positioning the technology as a crucial foundation for the development of machine learning tools.

Marc Rouanne, the ex-President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, once stated that “AI and machine learning will enable a myriad of new service opportunities”, in addition to reducing end user costs and minimizing the consumption of energy.

Revolutionizing Ports

Like a whole host of other industries seeking to ride the wave of digitization, businesses in the maritime sector, such as service providers, are hoping to leverage 5G to their collective benefit.

Kalmar, a provider of lifting solutions, is already trialling 5G applications and building a “technology road map” that will make the next stage of connectivity part of the “industrial standard of the future”.

Forecasting the revolutionary potential of 5G, Kalmar’s Director of Automation Research Pekka Yli-Paunu has predicted that “advances in connectivity give us the opportunity to develop the next generation of remote control that may utilise not only video, but audio and haptics as well”.

In addition to this, major ports are conducting their own 5G trials, testing its capability to drive advancement in other areas and provide a bedrock for smarter, more efficient operations.

The Port of Hamburg has already hailed the success of their project, with intermediate results indicating that “5G enables new types of mobile applications for the Hamburg Port Authority’s business”.

Looking ahead, Hamburg has isolated “5G network slicing” as an area that will have a particular impact on operations, laying the “foundation for new IoT applications” and “business models” that will boost the competitiveness of the entire port industry.

Unlocking the Potential

The cooperation of key players from multiple industrial and technological fields is currently forming an access point to 5G for businesses in all sectors.

Nokia has emphasized their work with “a lot of partners in the ports and terminals space, such as Konecranes, to enable the development of a connected ecosystem,” with the company “well positioned to understand the applications and savings made possible by mission-critical wireless technologies”.

According to Nokia’s statistics, ports and harbours make up a significant proportion of its vertical enterprise customers, all of which are currently deploying private LTE networks for their operational campus needs.

In the case of ports like HaminaKotka (located in Finland) the focus of “operational needs” once again shifts to connectivity, correlating to the intelligent machine Dr. Yvo Saanen imagines in his assessment of 5G.

Based on the sound situational awareness of container handling, warehouse logistics, and port security which machine-to-machine and machine-to-person connectivity offers, operations can be improved across multiple areas, from safety and efficiency to environmental performance and cost-effectiveness.

The extent of 5G’s potential impact on ports and terminals is still uncertain, but as operators and service providers search for smarter solutions, and ways to leverage automated technologies, the key word for the future is connectivity.

Source: Port Technology

Portugal Launches Huge Maritime Smart Tech Plan

The Portuguese government has announced an initiative aimed at accelerating the creation of smart tech start-ups in the shipping and ports sectors, according to a statement.

Named ‘Bluetech Accelerator – Ports & Shipping 4.0’, the programme is being led by the Minister of the Sea of Portugal and is designed to make the country a world leader in smart technology innovation.

The government has said it has already established a coalition of stakeholders, including shipping groups Portline Group and ETE Group, the ports of Sines and Leixoes and digital and robotics companies Inmarsat and Tekever to identify and finance start-ups in the smart technology and shipping industry.

The chosen start-ups will be announced in the last quarter of 2019, and the government has said it expects other stakeholders in the maritime and port sector to join the initiative.

Speaking about the initiative, Portuguese Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino, said: “The Portuguese port system must be seen as the front line of the implementation of the blue economy based on the operational, energy and environmental innovation of maritime industries, promoting the emergence of new companies.

A recent Port Technology technical paper looked at smart investment in the maritime sector.

“This objective will be possible through the creation of a network of Port Tech Clusters, platforms for accelerating the technological and business innovation of sustainable blue port-based businesses.

“From here will be created new companies that will constitute and reinforce the Port Tech Cluster 4.0, innovation network that will be installed in the national port system focused on the application of industry 4.0 to the maritime-port sector”.

The Port of Sines, a key participant in the scheme, signed an agreement last week with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company to develop a new, next-gen container terminal, a story PTI covered.

Source: Port Technology

Terminal Drones: Game-Changing or Hot Air?

Drone technology could be vitally important to the evolution of smart ports and terminals, but they also present a number of challenges in terms of safety and security.

This insight delves into their utility within the port and terminal sector, and questions how valid they are in such an arena.

According to EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc, “…drones are a key part of the future of aviation and will become part of our daily lives”, yet for some ports and terminals, drones are already a part of daily operations.

Drones in Ports and Terminals:

After testing their ability in filming site operations, monitoring traffic flows and observing unsafe behaviour, APM Terminals introduced the technology at its facilities in San Antonio, Texas and Santiago, Chile.

They are not the only ones to make this leap.

Today, drones are in operation across multiple ports, terminals and maritime facilities around the world; some have been put to use surveying Israel’s new Gulf Port in Haifa, while others have been tested at the Port of Singapore as a method of delivering small loads.

While the drones in the aforementioned ports have been used for surveying and observation, Abu Dhabi Ports’ drone devices have formed the basis of its surveillance and security measures at the Khalifa Port and KIZAD facilities, enabling the company to “instantly check even difficult to access locations from various perspectives, without putting any employees in danger.”

However, it should be noted that port operators are not the only maritime players testing and implementing drones for a variety of purposes.

Drones as Cargo Movers:

Wilhelmsen, a provider of smart shipping solutions, is currently developing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and predicts that drone deliveries could reduce shore-to-ship costs by 90%.

According to Marius Johansen, Commercial Vice President at Wilhelmsen, the rapid of progress of drone technology is also driving the development of “key technological solutions such as ship localization and precision landing, payload release systems, and light and reliable 4G/LTE communication.”

Could the introduction of drones to the maritime sector therefore be considered a catalyst for change?

In April 2018, logistics provider GEODIS teamed up with DELTA DRONE to develop “a completely automated solution for inventory management using unmanned drones”, the very first of its kind.

The same quadcopter drones implemented by Abu Dhabi Ports were used again by these two companies, who were able to combine the surveillance capabilities of drones with geo-location technology, allowing the unmanned devices to navigate a warehouse and perform administrative tasks.

The development of drones is also being supported by massive companies like Allianz, which has encouraged shippers to use the technology more effectively for a range of monitoring purposes.

According to maritime surveyors, drones are able to assess vessel damage, undertake search and rescue operations and assess environmental pollution.

On the other hand, Allianz has also stressed “the importance of striking the correct balance between human interaction and technological enterprise to prevent standards falling.

Standards:

Key “standards” that need to be considered, when deciding how to implement drones within ports and terminals, are safety and security.

With these concerns in mind, could the emerging technology be a double-edged sword for the maritime sector?

The Port of Rotterdam has highlighted the “less sympathetic ends” to which drones could be used, including “reconnaissance for criminal activities” and “espionage”; as well as ensuring the security of ports, the technology also poses a potential threat.

It is for this reason that ports like Rotterdam have imposed strict rules and regulations on the use of drones, prohibiting private operators from flying over port areas without a special permit or permission.

Standardization was a key topic of discussion at this year’s Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies Conference.

For now, maritime authorities can establish restrictions to protect the integrity of their operations.

However, as drone technology continues to advance, will major players be able to maintain the same levels of security?

As with all technological developments across the industry, the future remains uncertain.

Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism.

Future Outlook:

In March 2018, design consultants PriestmanGoode revealed their vision for the future of drones, the technology’s capacity to innovate change and create revolutionary solutions set to extend beyond ports and terminals.

The Dragonfly delivery concept imagines a world in which cities and commercial centres can be relieved of congestion by drones, the devices passing between buildings as they proceed towards their destination.

While this kind of futuristic landscape might seem a lifetime away, the rapid progress of drone devices is ready to change the way global trade operates, including the operations of increasingly automated ports and terminals.

The challenge now, for those key maritime players, is keeping pace with technological developments, ensuring that safety measures are sophisticated and prepared for the risks presented by such a flexible technology.

Source: Port Technology