With increased shipping activity along
with bigger ships and cargoes, ports and har-
bors are ripe for BDA. The Port of Rotterdam,
Europe’s largest, is undergoing a $1.65 bil-
lion upgrade (with IBM support). Their
existing data systems were, like most existing
port systems, based on communications
between captains, pilots, terminal operators,
and tugboats. The systems were technically
obsolete, expensive to maintain, and unable
not counting harbor vessel traffic. The new
system provides 24/7 access to real-time ship
tracking data, enabling scheduling of vessels
and terminal operations, boosting productiv-
ity and reducing costs. This big data platform
serves as a central point of contact for carri-
ers, authorities, pilots, tugs, terminals and
other port stakeholders. And all of this is not
to mention the highly data-driven harbor
ferry and tugboat fleet operations and man-
agement, like the slick little REX system
tested a year or so ago in Oslo Fjord. REX
stands for “Route Exchange,” a route-plan-
ning tool that runs on standard commercially
available mobile devices from data stored in
an onboard server from a database that is fed
by data from the vessel itself and other vessels
in the fjord.
When routes are entered into REX, each
ferry’s technical profile is already there. REX
reads the vessel’s onboard sensors, taking into
account each vessel’s characteristics, including how long it takes a vessel to accelerate or
decelerate and provides this to the shore-based Sea Traffic Coordination Center. This
system is ideal for other types of harbor
workboats as well.
Making smarter decisions
BDA represents an opportunity for a company to learn from its own data in order to
make smarter, data-driven decisions concerning every aspect of the business. Or, alternatively, companies can access large commercially available or governmental databases
from external sources to improve sales,
expand markets, accelerate new product
development, etc. It should come as no surprise to learn that large enterprises are the
major users of big data analytics. This is
because adding this capability can represent a
very significant investment in terms of personnel, hardware and software.
Key to this powerful new capability is a
new breed of analytical data expert. Part
mathematician, part computer scientist, and
part engineer, they are called “data scientists.”
Due to the soaring interest in BDA, they are
highly sought after and well paid. Many
began their careers as statisticians, mathematicians, information technology specialists
or engineers. Their duties consist of collecting
large amounts of unstructured data, transforming it into usable or structured forms via
analytical techniques such as machine learning, predictive analytics, and pattern and
to connect with mobile devices and business
systems used across the port. Thus the
upgrade includes a huge new data acquisition, storage, processing, and analytics system for facilities and traffic management,
monitoring, maintenance and reporting of
port management data.
A similar situation existed at the Port of
Hamburg, Germany’s largest seaport. This
port handles some 10,000 vessels per year,
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