People, planet, profit, ports

Pascal Ollivier. Credit: Maritime Street

Pascal Ollivier, president of Maritime Street, talks about what the next wave of port ecosystems will look like and comments on what developments for ports lie ahead

Ports and cities are historically strongly linked to deliver prosperity, power, and progress. But relationships between the two have, in many cases, become strained over time as increasing urban populations and growing maritime trade create environmental and societal challenges. We have yet to address many of the challenges resulting from the fourth industrial revolution, which we are currently experiencing.

Public policies around technological transformation, for example, are still at their inception in many port cities across the globe. The creation of such policies should be a priority when one considers that 17 of the top 25 world mega cities are also port megacities, representing a population of 293 million people and 22% of the world port container traffic handling 167 million teu.

The time has come for the two key pillars of the previous decade – smart and sustainable – to be treated holistically in terms of policy making, not only in developed countries but also in the emerging and developing worlds.

A new era of governance to support smart and sustainable port cities of the future will be needed beyond what exists today. New clusters of excellence will be required – some are already forming at key hubs – that mix traditional port and maritime disciplines in new ways.

A new wave of incubators and accelerators must be fostered to enable technology start-ups, supported by academic research, skills development and retraining, and outreach to attract a new generation of smart and sustainable people in the public and private sectors.

Take PortXL, born in Rotterdam and now active in Antwerp and Singapore, The Dock innovation hub in Israel, and Pier 71 founded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and National University of Singapore, as examples of new waves.

From a policy making and governance perspective, security, mobility, energy, and environment will be the four pillars of smart and sustainable port cities over the next decade. Security: port cities are increasingly viewed as critical infrastructure from an international trade, security, and defence perspective in the face of new geo-political, economic, environmental, and technological risks. In particular, cyber security has become one of the top three risks for public and private organisations.

It comes as no surprise that in 2018 the World Economic Forum (WEF) established the Centre for Cybersecurity to shape the global future of cyber security. According to the WEF, economic loss owing to cyber crime is predicted to reach USD3 trillion by 2020, representing 3.4% of global GDP.

The development of maritime autonomous surface ships will not only bring new regulation from the IMO as part of its 2018–23 strategic plan to integrate new and advancing technologies, but will also see the emergence in ports of fleet digital remote operation centres and digital fleet security and supervision centres where cyber security will be a primary risk that needs to be managed robustly.

In a similar context, the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs – more commonly known as drones) poses threats as well as benefits to critical infrastructures and populations, as has been seen in cruise port cities in 2019, and will require regulatory and security initiatives.

The rise of autonomous systems along with the internet of things (IoT) and its industrial infrastructure, 5G, and an increase in digitisation, will make security a number one priority for port cities over the coming decade, including the development of command, control, communication, computer, cyber, and intelligence systems.

This situation should prompt the IMO to integrate cyber security into the global maritime regulatory framework and to amend the 2004 International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code to force the port ecosystem to develop a resilient infrastructure.

Mobility: many port cities are suffering, with massive congestion due to the combined forces of fast-increasing populations and trade growth.

In Lima, Lagos, Mumbai, and Jakarta, a holistic approach is needed to manage strategy-to-execution decision making. Digital twinning will be part of the answer, creating a digital representation of a real-world entity or system including the relationships between all the relevant entities and all means of transport for cargo and people. According to the research firm Gartner Group, by 2022, more than two-thirds of companies that have implemented IoT will have deployed at least one digital twin in production, and digital twins are now entering mainstream use.

The Port of Rotterdam, for example, is creating a digital twin of the port to track ship movements, infrastructure, weather, geographic and water data, and the City of Singapore is experimenting with its digital twin to improve city life.

Energy: Beyond traditional offshore and mainland sources, there is a high level of ambition to improve the generation and use of renewable energies to power port cities. GE, for example, has selected the Port of Rotterdam to install the what it claims is the most powerful wind turbine in the world this year.

Installed at Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte port area, the Haliade-X 12 MW turbine is expected to produce 67 GWh in gross annual energy and power 16,000 households.

Over the past decade, the Port of Los Angeles has undertaken a number of projects to promote solar power, installing panels that can now produce 13 MW, with the clean energy fed to the utility grid operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The solar systems generate approximately one-sixth of the port’s current power demand or enough electricity to power approximately 2,500 homes.

In 2017, the Indian Ministry of Shipping announced that it would set up 135 MW of solar energy capacity at eight major ports. In January 2019, Visakhapatnam Port announced that it has been running on 100% solar energy since it commissioned a 10 MW captive solar power project.

Environment: in May 2019, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted resolution MEPC.323(74) inviting member states to encourage voluntary co-operation between the port and shipping sectors to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships, including support for the optimisation of port calls and facilitation of just-in-time arrival of ships. The port call optimisation initiative was launched by the ports of Algeciras, Busan, and Gothenburg, Houston, Rotterdam, Singapore, and Ningbo Zhoushan in 2014, endorsed by the International Association of Ports and Harbors, and is a cornerstone of the World Ports Sustainability Programme.

A joint study by research institute TNO and Port of Rotterdam in 2018 analysed all container vessel traffic to Rotterdam and found that advising approaching ships 12 hours before arrival on just-in-time sailing schedules for berth availability could save 4% or 134,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year as well as 20% of waiting time.

As multiple demands and forces converge on port cities, we now have a tremendous opportunity for all the public and private stakeholders to come together and craft a new ecosystem to harness the potential of technological innovation and deliver truly smart and sustainable port cities that enable national economies and world trade without sacrificing the health and wellbeing of their citizens or further damaging the environment.