Digitalisation and the future role of the seafarer

10 April 2017 by Matt Duke
As featured in the article published by Knect365, our VP Digital Platform, Matt Duke, provides his views on how digitalization effects the role of the seafarer:

Future seafarers will experience their vessels becoming more digitalised and thus more reliant on computerised technology. This means that keeping the crew trained and ready to "monitor the machine" will become no less important than it is today for a chief on the main engine. The difference is that their skills will need to broaden to encompass a degree of digital nativism so that working on computer systems with high quality and being able to troubleshoot operational issues related to the cyber-physical (the boundary between the physical machine and the computer network) becomes a part of their role.

Read more on this topic at KNECT365

The future hyper-connected world will offer a collaborative workplace for crews, with access to experts at land from their company and partners ready to assist and collaborate 24/7. Crews might also start working more remotely, with responsibility for several vessels in the fleet through remote operation. Systems allow a degree of automatic error checking, but the value of information sent from the vessel is extremely high, and it should be expected that crews have a high focus on inputting reliable and correct information on board. At the same time, they should build experience to pass a critical eye over automatically generated reports. Safety is always the number one priority on board, and this is no different for the safety-related theme cybersecurity.

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Crews must ensure high vigilance in learning how to protect against cyber threats, and what actions they can take to limit the effects of a breach in defences. They represent both the last line of defence, and also as the human in the system, the most valuable asset. Shippers must provide the systems and training needed to protect their operations from cyber intrusion, and work with their crew in practising how to recover from a cyber incident. The concept of emergency response management team training for the industry is not new. Cyber needs to be included as a training scenario, like grounding, main engine failure or piracy. Crews must be reliable in following this training, no matter how small the risk.

Finally, I would like to wish any seafarers reading this article clear skies, calm seas, and safe passage. I have a tremendous respect for the work they do in some of the most extreme environments, and I am proud to work for a company that works to help them in that mission.

About the writer
Matt Duke
Duke has been with KONGSBERG since January 2017 and holds the position of Vice President for the digital platform economy focusing on the maritime sector. He has been in digital technology for 20 years and has worked in the shipping industry for the last 15 leading global digital and IT organizations within Odfjell. Because of Duke’s proven experience leading organizational change and moving Odfjell to a truly data-driven business, Kongsberg Digital brought him on to combine the customer perspective from shipping and elements of leadership and change management required to secure successful digital transformation.