|The legacy model of the shipping industry, starting with the Phoenicians, was one of individual entities. Each ship acted as its own “silo” with most of them being accountable to the King (or in Cleopatra’s case, the Queen). As populations grew, and technology advanced to include longer voyages, mergers and acquisitions began to take hold with individuals beginning to own multiple ships (think The Merchant of Venice), but they were still restricted to operating with limited capability to communicate. Perhaps they could get news back to their home port on a passing vessel heading that way, but mostly information about these voyages only arrived with the ship itself back in its home port.
Modern communications have helped bridge the gap in how ships are managed, and the utilization of AIS means that no ship is invisible. Sensors on equipment relayed through satellite communications to the home office means that what happens on board no longer stays on board. There is a wealth of data being made available that could accelerate industry’s capabilities, but due to commercial pressures we are still operating in silos and losing out on the chance to be more efficient and effective in the midst of change.
This lack of willingness means that regulators must step in. January of this year brought the EU’s MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verifying) requirement with the IMO’s Data Collection System coming into force next January. All is designed to ferret out regulations for reducing GHG’s. Industry has lost its control of the issue.
Here is a question: what would the shipping world look like if it established a platform of trust that would enable stakeholders to share information? How could we construct a system whereby every participant derives benefit? Blockchain is a prime example of how efficiencies can be obtained once trust has been established. It effectively links all the “silos” together so there is a foundation of shared knowledge- and benefit.
Leaving the grain in the granary…