Representatives from major maritime technology companies and related industry stakeholders gathered in London on Tuesday for the inaugural meeting of the Smart Maritime Council, a new initiative created by the Smart Maritime Network to support collaboration and standardisation in the development of IT systems for the shipping sector.

Smart Maritime Network was formed in January 2019 to promote the benefits of enhanced integration and data sharing among stakeholders within the maritime and transport logistics sectors, providing a platform to inform the industry on technological developments and innovations while providing wider opportunities for relationship building and knowledge sharing.

A core element of the initiative is the creation of a Smart Maritime Council, a diverse industry membership group including maritime technology developers, systems integrators and other key stakeholders, which will hold a series of meetings to discuss areas of mutually beneficial collaboration on issues relating to the compatibility, standardisation and harmonisation of the technology used in the modern shipping industry.

Vessel operators are also represented within the membership, to provide the end-user’s perspective on maritime technology development and to help to guide the Council’s discussions by making sure that shipping companies’ real-world operational requirements play a central role in future IT development.

The Smart Maritime Council will hold a further five meetings in 2019 after these initial discussions in London, with each taking place in a different global maritime centre. Conclusions from these meetings on the direction of future technology development, and guidance on improving systems integration, will be shared with the wider maritime industry through a series of four regional conferences to be held throughout the year, beginning in Athens on May 9.

Collaboration and data sharing

The Greece-based Association of Maritime Managers in Information Technology and Communications (AMMITEC), a non-profit membership organisation representing the interests of vessel IT managers in the world’s biggest ship owning nation, is one of the Council’s founding members and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the concept of increased collaboration in maritime technology development that the Smart Maritime Network represents.

Katerina Raptaki, IT Manager of the Navios Group of Companies and AMMITEC board member, commented: “As Steve Jobs used to say, ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’, and these people love their work. They are passionate and devoted to it.”

“I trust that this new initiative will exceed our expectations and offer the shipping industry a new forum for research, knowledge sharing and new opportunities in such a demanding, highly collaborative, challenging and rapidly progressing environment.”

She added: “I wish the Smart Maritime Network every success and it is my pleasure to convey AMMITEC’s support and our readiness to work together moving forward.”

Satellite communications provider Inmarsat was also among the founding members to join the first Smart Maritime Council meeting in London, with Mark Warner, Marketing & PR Director at Inmarsat Maritime, commenting: “With increasing digitalisation in the maritime industry powered by high-speed connectivity, Inmarsat is delighted to be part of a network that will provide a platform to promote the benefits of enhanced integration and data sharing among stakeholders whilst simultaneously informing and educating the industry on technological development and innovation.”