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Inmarsat enables and protects the IoT revolution

Inmarsat's Network Operations Centre Inmarsat's Network Operations Centre

Research published last year by Inmarsat on digital transformation in shipping* indicated that, on average, ship operators and managers plan to spend $2.5 million on IoT-based solutions within three years. A study from the satellite operator, which drew on a survey of 750 transport chain professionals including 125 shipowners, also indicated that maritime participants expected average IoT-driven cost savings of 14 per cent over the next five years.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}However, the research strongly suggested that a greater maritime appetite for IoT-based solutions would emerge if more data could be delivered and analysed in real-time. Asked why their organisation was not able to make best use of data collected from IoT-based solutions, 51 per cent of maritime respondents overall blamed the time lag between collection and availability for use. This was 11 per cent  ahead of any other explanation. 

This finding vindicates thinking behind Fleet Data, recently launched by Inmarsat as the first IoT-based service allowing shipowners and managers to access vessel performance applications via a sensor agnostic platform using dedicated bandwidth in real time. Developed by Inmarsat and Danelec Marine, Fleet Data collects data from onboard sensors, pre-processes that data and uploads it to a central cloud-based database equipped with a dashboard and an Application Process Interface (API).

In April, Inmarsat announced maritime software company NAPA as the first certified application provider for Fleet Data. The agreement will allow shipowners and managers to collect, transfer and analyse real-time onboard data covering fuel consumption more efficiently through a dedicated application hosted on Inmarsat’s new Fleet Data IoT service. NAPA will then use this data to offer services for vessel performance monitoring, analytics and optimisation.

“This partnership and the NAPA application will help overcome key difficulties faced by those frustrated with the challenge of aggregating vessel data on-board and getting it efficiently onshore to improve fuel optimisation,” said Stefano Poli, VP, business development, Inmarsat Maritime. “It will allow ship operators and managers to access, control and analyse their own data, through the NAPA application on Fleet Data and via a secure platform that is fully scalable, fleet-wide and available on both Fleet Xpress and FleetBroadband.”

Pekka Pakkanen, director, Development, NAPA Shipping Solutions said the NAPA Fleet Intelligence platform accommodates ship performance data from all kinds of data sources, such as noon reports or AIS, scaled according to what is available.  

“However, the most accurate performance evaluations and predictions need both good quality and high frequency data, which is just what Fleet Data provides,” added Pakkanen. “For us, the key is to provide value from the data collected, based on expertise in hydrodynamics, optimisation and analytics. This scalable way of obtaining data opens new possibilities to enhance the benefits of this value added service for the whole shipping industry.”

In addition to Fleet Data, Inmarsat is also providing dedicated bandwidth services for application providers across both its L-Band and Ka-Band networks and recently signed an agreement with SRH Marine SAIT to provide ECDIS updates via FleetBroadband.

The industry’s appetite for real time remote vessel management describes only one side of its readiness to engage with IoT-based solutions, however. Shipping is often chided for its cyber vulnerabilities, and here Inmarsat’s recent research had some illuminating insights to offer. Its 125 survey respondents revealed themselves to be more concerned about data storage methods (55 per cent), network security (50 per cent) and potential mishandling of data (44 per cent) than they are about targeted attacks (39 per cent). Meanwhile, only 37 per cent report initiatives to improve security training, with just 25 per cent are working on new IoT security policies.

These findings, too, align with Inmarsat’s approach to the IoT on developing its Fleet Secure  Unified Threat Management and monitoring service. At a time when crews are more eager than ever to connect to the IoT, often using their own devices, shipboard systems can be easily compromised by an infected laptop or memory stick. Few of the world’s 1.6 million seafarers working today have an IT expert working alongside them at sea; Inmarsat research indicates that 76 per cent of ships have no one onboard taking responsibility for cyber security. 

For these reasons, Fleet Secure includes Fleet Secure Endpoint to isolate infected systems and prevent ship network disruption, developed with digital security specialist ESET. It also comes with the mobile training app Fleet Secure Cyber Awareness, developed with Stapleton International and the Marine Learning Alliance so that seafarers can educate themselves on the tactics cyber criminals use to infiltrate the shipping infrastructure.

*The Industrial IOT on Land and at Sea – published July 2018. For more information visit {/mprestriction}

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