Regarding the maritime business sector, the Contractor has dealt with different opportunities and activities that could greatly benefit from evolutionary scenarios characterized by the presence of innovative telecommunication solutions like VDES.
In particular, the “Dematerialisation” and “Towage” scenarios are considered for the present study, as they furthermore match the guidelines for MSP.
The former is aimed to share common information among vessels navigating the same geographical area, usually delivered on paper publications, such as the pilot book and the related file summaries and notice to mariners, other than nautical charts and weather forecast updates. The service could introduce a real time update of all the navigation information updates and enable smart user generated content review and publishing.
The latter is aimed to support companies in providing towage services, by automatically exchanging towage information and events (start/end of services, routes and anchorages, crew, weather nowcasting for towage and mooring operations, etc.) with the HQ and automatically produce towage reports; the service includes tug and towed vessel tracking during the services and trouble management procedures.
VDES provides a robust and global data exchange in maritime VHF band, supporting all services which require ship-to-ship, shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications. Therefore, the targeted user communities include:
whose main needs can be summarised as follows:
The two selected VDES-based services concern maritime authorities and ship owners, involving all the above-mentioned needs, with more prominence for communication and navigation needs.
More in depth, information regarding safety of navigation and environment protection, including Maritime Safety Information (IMO SOLAS V) navigational warnings, meteorological services and warnings, hydrographic services and danger messages could be managed through VDES. In addition ability to send information to a predefined area, such as in particular weather information updates expected along a planned route and chart updates related to the voyage, could be enabled.
VDES could also provide the capability to exchange information related to ship arriving at a port, including time of arrival and requests for port service such as stores, fuel, pilots, tugs and other aspects for the transit.
To effectively meet these needs, the following main operational challenges have been identified:
MARVELOWS exploitation strategy is based on a four-step approach, characterized by an increasing geographic scope for targeted users: Italy for step 1, UK, Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, Greece and Cyprus for step 2, other European countries and Israel for step 3, worldwide level for step 4.
The figure below describes the MARVELOWS Dematerialisation service architecture.
It is based on two subsystems, i.e. land and on-board server. In detail, looking at the overall service operation:
The figure below depicts the MARVELOWS Towage service architecture.
It envisages several channels for both ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications: VDES, for deep sea towage, and VDES terrestrial, 3G and LTE, for near shore navigation.
The proposed service allows the automatic exchange of towage information and events with headquarters and automatically produces towage reports. It brings several benefits to end-users enabling full process automation and allows the creation of archives for all the activities carried out by towage companies.
As reported in the “White Paper on Integrating Maritime Surveillance: the Implementation of the Common Information Sharing Environment” (EC Nov-2012), in the EU and EEA 400 public authorities throughout seven relevant sectors collect information at sea from different types of sensors to build up their “awareness picture”. This “awareness picture” could be significantly improved if information were shared appropriately between these authorities. The lack of information exchange across sectors and borders lead to a series of inefficiencies constituting the practical and the political context of today: the “maritime awareness picture” that remains incomplete. So, the integration of satcom and navigation space assets can contribute to the enhancement of the maritime applications in several ways. For example, in general:
With specific reference to the two services analysed in MARVELOWS:
a) Towage Service: GNSS/AIS position of vessels and tugs are used to support the management of daily operations of, for example, one or more tugs driving a vessel to the assigned berth; satcom are used to support the communication between local crew and headquarter in the management of contingencies in out-of-coverage areas along the coast and/or far from the harbour, where no terrestrial operator guarantee connectivity services.
b) Dematerialisation Service: GNSS/AIS position of vessels are used to provide location-based content to registered vessels, both in push and pull mode through the ‘better communication channel’ among the available one. Contents are various and depend on the specific subscription, however two main classes of content have been identified: ‘large-size’ content (e.g. ENC-Electronic Nautical Chart, DP-Digital Publications, Cumulative NTM-Notice To Mariner and so on) and ‘small-size’ content (e.g. ENC/DP updates, temporary and preliminary info, Local Notice to Mariner). Large-size contents are transmitted via “broadband” communication channels (terrestrial and satellite along the coasts and satellite-only in deep sea); small-size contents are transmitted via narrowband channels (terrestrial and satellite along the coasts and satellite-only in deep sea).
The feasibility study started on 1st March 2017.
The activities performed so far are:
At the end of the first two above activities, a user requirements review was held (end of July) where results were presented together with intermediary results from the third activity.