Humans as a risk factor?
Studies shows that shipping is only partly prepared for technological change. There are concerns over the latest examples of cyber-crime and a lack of legal regulations for unmanned vessels.
Technological developments will see the maritime industry change fundamentally over the coming years. The UK’s Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (Imarest) and the global law firm Clyde & Co recently surveyed 220 executives on how the players in the shipping industry assess their impact.
Smart shipping coming out on top
48% of respondents believe that smart shipping will be used extensively in the shipping industry as early as in ten to fifteen years from now; for instance in the fields of using weather data for routing decisions, for travel planning, fuel consumption, emissions control or forward-looking maintenance. 75% of those surveyed expect the associated digital technologies to have an impact on their business.
They simultaneously anticipate that smart shipping will support crews and the performance of fleets. The biggest challenge for shipowners will be to define a fundamental performance level as a standard, on the basis of which the improvement can be measured with systems that are freshly rolled out.
The key obstacles are considered to be requirements arising from new infrastructure that needs to be put in place; risks posed by cyber-crime and compatibility with new and existing legal regulations; as well as questions concerning liability. Overall, the respondents believe that smart shipping will not have a major impact on the number of employees, but it will change the requirements in the fields of skills and expertise. What is more, there are fears that operating knowledge may decrease, due to the increasing prevalence of digital instructions.
Industry unprepared for unmanned vessels
48% of those surveyed – the same figure as the one concerning smart shipping – assume that unmanned vessels will be implemented in the coming ten to fifteen years. However, 77% of respondents believe that ports and port authorities are unprepared for the demanding infrastructure challenges posed by unmanned vessels, and the same view is held by nearly two thirds (63%) when it comes to assessing the shipping industry as a whole.
What is more, at 51% nearly half of all respondents are of the opinion that crews do not have the necessary skills to operate and serve on unmanned vessels. Although cyber-risks are accepted as being an unavoidable side effect of technological progress, more than half of those surveyed believe that they will be manageable with the aid of new IT solutions.
At the same time, approximately 68% of all respondents fear that unmanned vessels constitute a larger risk to cyber-security than traditional designs do. The biggest risk here emanates from humans, be it due to mistakes or deliberate attacks. Around 64% of all respondents also see uncertainty when it comes to remaining questions concerning liability issues. 59% of them agree that the regulations in this context are rather confusing.