Digital solutions enhance seafarer safety

From time immemorial, seafarers and ships have provided vital links to keep the world connected.
Even today, as digital transformation brings far-flung communities together amid the COVID-19 pandemic, maritime trade and transport remain central elements in global connectivity.
Seafarers and their demanding missions, meanwhile, are changing with the times.
Connecting mariners to the rest of the world and providing them with the best technologies and services to keep them safe at sea is of utmost importance.
Connected seafarers
More and more connected ships mean increasingly huge amounts of data. Most importantly, we must ensure that nobody is left behind. In the maritime sector, this means helping seafarers understand the latest information and communication technologies (ICTs) well enough to extract real value from the resulting data.
Gathering and analyzing data in intelligent ways makes all of us in the maritime business more effective in our missions. I have seen firsthand how ICT adoption can help to build a safer and fairer work environment for seafarers, address global environmental concerns including warming oceans, biodiversity loss and rising sea levels, and, of course, optimize maritime fleet performance.
To take one example, key shipboard data can be transmitted securely thanks to emerging technologies like distributed ledgers.
At the same time, access to satellite data while at sea has never been easier. Seafarers can capture deep insights through a new-generation interface with their equipment. Ultimately, satellite-based meteorology has vastly improved our knowledge of the seas.
For those in peril
Safety has always been priority number one for seafarers. Yet the perils of the harsh maritime working environment are never far away. ICT uptake and standardization have greatly improved seafarer safety in recent years, with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) making vital contributions in this regard.
Take, for example, the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), the internationally agreed set of safety procedures, frequencies, types of equipment, and communication protocols developed by ITU and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). GMDSS has been saving lives for over 30 years now. It came as an especially welcome innovation back in 1988.
Today, ITU’s Maritime Manual, List IV (List of Coast Stations and Special Service Stations) and List V (List of Ship Stations and Maritime Mobile Service Identity Assignments) remain highly reliable sources of industry information. They equip our seafaring colleagues to anticipate navigational concerns and ultimately help bring ships and crews home safe and sound.
After many years of travelling the oceans, I appreciate the value of practical tech of seaborne users. My wish to leverage digital solutions and design user-first services is what led me to the next stage of my career. Now, at Opsealog, my mission is to provide crews and shore staff with dedicated tools and accurate advice for the best use of resources.
Evolving technologies, meanwhile, keep unlocking new possibilities. I can’t wait to help create the next generation digital tools for our beautiful maritime industry.
[source: ITU]

Cybersecurity in the Maritime Sector: ENISA Releases New Guidelines for Navigating Cyber Risk

The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity provides port operators with a set of good practices to help them identify and evaluate cyber risks, and effectively identify suitable security measures.
The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) released cybersecurity guidelines to help European port operators manage cyber risks amid digital transformation and increased regulations. ENISA’s new Guidelines - Cyber Risk Management for Ports was drafted in collaboration with several ports in EU Member States. The publication builds on ENISA’s 2019 Port Cybersecurity Report by providing actionable practices that speak to the current cybersecurity threats and changing digital landscape faced by Europe’s maritime sector.
EU Agency for Cybersecurity Executive Director Juhan Lepassaar stated: “The maritime sector plays a pivotal role in the global supply chain. Advancing digital technologies bring economic benefits to ports, but also introduce new cyber threats. The report provides guidelines and good practices to support them in effectively conducting this cyber risk assessment, which is where many of these operators face challenges.”
The interconnected nature of ports requires operators to achieve and maintain a baseline level of cybersecurity to ensure security across the port ecosystem. The report notes that the EU maritime sector has a fragmented approach to assessing cyber risks.
The report encourages port operators to develop a set of good practices in a means to develop this baseline level of cybersecurity. Practices include to:
- Identify cyber-related assets and services in a systematic way that includes maintaining an asset inventory, identifying dependencies and deploying automation;
- Adopt a comprehensive approach for identifying and evaluating cyber risks that includes CTI, risk indicators and business impact analysis, involves all relevant stakeholders and is integrated at an organisational level;
- Prioritise the implementation of security measures following a risk-based approach that considers security measure effectiveness and pertinence to the identified risks, and is founded in a security-by-design approach;
- Implement organisation-wide cybersecurity awareness and technical training programmes;
- Develop a comprehensive cybersecurity programme that involves a commitment by senior management;
- Conduct a cybersecurity maturity self-assessment to identify priorities for improvement, and budget and resource allocation.
The NIS Directive classifies several categories of port operators as Operators of Essential Services (OES), including port authorities and terminal operators. Cyber risk assessments are among the NIS Directive requirements for these OES. The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code concerns port facilities / terminal operators and provides a framework for conducting security risk assessment, albeit not necessarily specific to cyber risks. The ISPS code is implemented in the EU by Regulation 725/2004; while EU Directive 2005/65 on enhancing port security introduces similar requirements and extends them to ports.
The EU Agency for Cybersecurity supports cybersecurity in Europe’s maritime sector by providing recommendations, supporting the development of regulations, facilitating information exchange and organising awareness-raising events. In 2019, the Agency published its Port Cybersecurity Report with a set of cybersecurity good practices for the maritime sector, and organised two maritime security workshops with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
The Agency is currently developing an online tool for cyber risk management for port operators, and will continue its work with EU bodies, such as the EMSA, and Member States to strengthen cybersecurity for the sector.