Finland plans to create “intelligent shipping lanes”
The Finnish Transport Agency has said that it is creating new digital interfaces that would enhance both the reliability and the profitability of seafaring.
Tests are to begin in early 2017 for the “intelligent” digital shipping lane services. In the new system, both real time and forecast information about the shipping environment will be provided, for example, with accurate information about the sea floor and water level. This will enable ships to accept freight up to the extend feasible for the actual conditions without risk.
The system would also explain how a specific ship would behave in the currently prevailing weather and sea environment. The new services have been considered attractive to shipping as the cargo load could be maximized on the basis of knowing the actual depth of water at the time. During the two years, applications will be tested for gathering the information and distributing it to the vessels.
This will be done both in the systems of participating ships and in the operational maritime centers of the Finnish Transport Agency. Following a two-year test period, the digital interface would be available for use, senior inspector Jorma Timonen at the Finnish Transport Agency told Xinhua on Friday. Timonen said, however, actual service providers could be private operators and the authorities would not necessarily offer “the intelligent shipping lane services.” Final decisions have not been made, he said.
The Finnish Transport Agency operates a network of Vessel Traffic Service centers that monitor ships and intervene if an apparent collision looks possible. Unlike air traffic controllers, the centers do not assign certain routes to ships, and the captains are the ones to decide. The new interface will not affect the existing public navigation services.
Timonen said that the role of the Vessel Traffic Service centers is likely to remain unchanged despite the introduction of the new intelligent services. The concept of “intelligent waterways” concept has been seen as part of the visions of the present government to privatize public waterways and roads. Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner has described the testing of intelligent fairways as a “major leap towards autonomous vessel traffic.”
Berner said that Finland wants to stay at the forefront of digital vessel services through public spending on communication links, information security and open data access.
The idea is to to create interactive ecosystems for robotics and automation in Finland.
Earlier this year, Berner published a vision to promote private sector involvement and even ownership of waterways and roads.