Virtualization Technology News and Information
From connected ports to smart ports, bringing maritime transportation into the digital age

By Fatima Elleouet, Head of Vertical Markets, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

When I assisted this year to the Smart Digital Port 2022 conference in Rotterdam, many ports teams spoke up about their experiences and expectations over the improvements they look forward to seeing in the industry.

Now more than ever, I understand the need for ports technology to move forward towards smarter solutions. Many stakeholders are involved in the seaport and logistics industry, all working towards the common goal of delivering cargo to its intended destination: safely, securely and on time.

Ports run and rely on technology (Digital Twins, IA, Collaboration, IoT, Drones) to improve their operations towards a more Secure, Smart and Sustainable port. However, challenges around data usage are still open; for instance, much more work needs to be done to ensure that the control over sensitive data as well as communications between port authority, terminal operators, transport providers, industrial sites and stowage companies prevent an extorsion or comprise of the data stored.

Sea transport is the backbone of the world's economy, with 90% of the world's trade carried by sea, according to International Maritime Organization [1]. Because of their relevance in the worldwide economy, ports and shipping are also significant contributors to air pollution. European Maritime Transport environmental reports indicate that ships produce 13.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the EU [2]. Seaports and shipping face many challenges that impact their operations, competitiveness, and sustainability. To be successful, they must embrace digital transformation, which includes updating technology that complies with government regulations.

Upgrading connected ports to become smart ports is not just about embracing technological progress but it is about facing our responsibility to employ all means necessary to improve security and safety in the transportation sector. An upgrade to smart ports results in improvement across customer experience and operational efficiency, as well as safety, security and sustainability. Smart ports set businesses apart from competitions and provide services with an edge to keep a business ahead of the curve in this everchanging, vital industry.

Customer-centric services

Digitalisation supports enhanced customer communication. For instance, end user apps are enriched with contextual information to provide adequate assistance and an easy access to services.

For logistics companies, a close relationship with the end-customer, freight companies and service providers, is fundamental in the booking service process. The CRM application is enhanced with communications services using Communications Platform as a Services (CPaaS), which allow seaport authorities, stakeholders and operators to connect and provide real-time communications capabilities, as per synchronising incoming calls with the customer profile and click-to-call from the CRM customer file.

Additionally, a cloud-based solution can ensure companies flexibly and dynamically scale up and scale down their customer service staff based on seasonal demand.

Improved operational efficiency

We cannot achieve an optimal operational efficiency without effective connectivity. A proper Wi-Fi connection is the foundation of an efficient transportation infrastructure which preserve an open channel between outdoor and indoor communication of the people, objects and multiple processes involved in ports activities. 

Collaboration is key to cost-effectively coordinating operational activities, improving overall competitiveness, while ensuring environmental sustainability and providing full traffic stream transparency to all involved parties.  

Adapted communications over a variety of devices such as desk phones, smartphones, mobile DECT handsets and softphones for warehouses, as well as other radio communication devices and objects to help address additional requirements. On top of this, instant collaboration tools and multimedia conversations over IM, voice and video enable quick decision making and problem resolution. Flexible Cloud models help port operators embrace change by offering a wide range of private, public and hybrid cloud communications solutions providing innovative and new services with lower upfront costs.

Notifications servers and IoT interactions can enhancing operational efficiencies by introducing bidirectional communications, coordinated calls-to-action, and a reinforced Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to help with decision-making through data analysis of contextual information.

Data capturing and automating processes through IoT can also improve visibility and provide the information needed to anticipate mechanical defects or incidents, simplifying preventive maintenance tasks. IoT devices are intended to facilitate port operations such as groundwater level detection, guarding port boulders, buoy availability, container tracking and high voltage cabinet protection.

The National Cargo Security Council reported that 50 billion dollars' worth of cargo is stolen each year. Container tracking with sensors that detect door opening/closing, light, humidity, location, G-force, and shock is essential to ensuring cargo integrity. When something goes wrong with the container, a sensor can trigger an action and send messages, using CPaaS services integrated into the operation application environment, to notify the security team to coordinate tasks related to the irregular situation. Additionally, to provide contextual information about the event, the closest video camera can monitor and record actions within the zone and plan accurate solutions to deal with the incident.

Enhanced safety and security

With continuing trends of cyber-attacks on the rise across the maritime sector is imperative to strengthen the network infrastructure of our ports. One way to combat these attacks is by implementing a zero trust architecture.

In zero trust, no user or device has immediate access to collected data. Whether they are on premises or off premises, they go through the same checks. There is no such thing as trusting internal users. Every access needs to be authenticated and authorised to ensure optimal data protection.

Safety and security will always be the top priority for port operators. Mission-critical voice communications are key to ensuring staff safety and operational security. The complex smart port ICT environment includes different layers that may significantly vary in terms of cybersecurity requirements, ranging from IoT devices, legacy systems to a variety of IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational technology) assets that fall under the responsibility of different teams within a port operator's organisation

These solutions involve connecting multiple security IoT devices such as intelligent video cameras for intrusion detection, access control detection devices, fire detection, and emergency call point signs is vital to assure the security of team activities. The call to action from any IoT spreads as a notification over a wide range of devices such as mobile phones, PCs and telephones using different communications media, including text, voice, and video. A combination of communications solutions such as CPaaS services and communication servers allows bidirectional communications with the IoT devices to collect contextual information about the incident to coordinate actions whilst improving operators' decision-making capabilities.

Go beyond connected and get smart

A transformation from connected ports to smart ports is essential to ensure a safe and effective management of ports operations. A combination of IoT services and appropriate cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions can help address the challenges of maritime transportation and logistics. Smart ports can do more than guarantee a safer and more coordinated environment for smoother ports operations, through the interactions between AI and other technological innovations, as well as data from IoT devices and business systems, smart ports can help performing activities with more informed, accurate, and faster decision-making.



Fatima Elleouet, Head of Global vertical markets, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise


Fatima has 22 year of experience in communications, Cloud and network technologies and leads the global vertical market strategy for the sales and marketing division of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. She is covering the following strategic sectors: Government, Healthcare, Education and Transportation, Energy & Utilities. Her experience in vertical markets brought her in-depth understanding of various customer challenges, use cases, business processes and technology ecosystems. She holds an MBA and a computer science engineering degree.

[1] International Maritime Organization

[2] European Maritime Transport

Published Thursday, August 04, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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