Cambridge-based spatial big data company GeoSpock has partnered with maritime market information source Baltic Exchange to create a global maritime spatial database built on the AWS Cloud to focus on reducing air emissions.

As a result of using this technology, the Baltic’s membership will have “complete and instant visibility into the shipping landscape”, GeoSpock said in a statement.

Shipping currently generates huge quantities of data, whether it is onboard ships, in port, or through the wider logistics chain. Presently, this data is siloed, with no central platform that the industry can leverage. GeoSpock’s spatial platform aims to change that by using this untapped data so shipping companies can improve sustainability. Speaking about the importance of a spatial platform, GeoSpock CEO Richard Baker said: “We’ve now reached a point where the amount of sensor data being generated is larger than what humans themselves are generating. A spatial big data platform helps to deal with the volume of connected devices and explosion in sensor data.”

In addition to data specific to shipping emissions such as fuel usage, voyage route and journey time, details such as location and weather – harvested from the digital records of scientific measuring devices – will also be captured. From there it will be curated to provide analytics, build insight and enable predictions.

Baker added: “The digital programme will commence with a specific focus on maritime air emissions enabling collaborators to have unparalleled access to visualisations and data insights. It will allow for informed decisions to be made on clean air initiatives, effectively demonstrating how the industry is tackling regional and global emissions.”

While this first emissions project will initially focus on UK and Singaporean ports, the initiative will have global reach.

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Baker, who has six years’ experience in the maritime industry under his belt, added that shipping companies must not let this information go to waste. “The maritime industry is currently trapped within many siloes, with operators hungry for insight and visibility,” said Baker. “The goal of our combined database is to disentangle the sector, achieving data interoperability throughout whilst ultimately creating an innovation hub.”

Building on the advantages of using big data, Baker said ports and shipping companies will be able to use the spatial platform to reduce sulphur emissions. This will be specifically useful as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will be introducing a sulphur cap from 1 January 2020, when the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas will be reduced to 0.50% m/m.

“The point is, if you can’t measure it, you can’t do anything about it. The challenge is to make all the data collected, organized, searchable, and dynamic within a second,” Baker added.

Ports around the world have been already putting in monitoring data sensors. Baker mentioned that the ships which go under the Rotterdam bridge, can detect what emissions are given off. “As this practice becomes more commonplace, that data becomes much more useful,” Baker said. ” Spatial databases and spatial analytics will allow the industry to establish a port of interest and apply a radius around it to understand what the emissions footprint looks like both inside and outside ports.

“Collectively, we all have an opportunity to look at our own sustainability. Through this partnership, we will help visualise the data and offer insight what air emissions look like on particular trade legs and reports, becoming a hub for emissions intelligence.”

Baltic Exchange CEO Mark Jackson said: “As our market embraces digital technologies, the Baltic is in a unique position to facilitate the industry’s digital growth. To achieve this vision we must adopt and utilise the most advanced technology and develop the most holistic database available.

“The GeoSpock database will act as a self-improving and scalable global information hub that can be interrogated in real-time. It’s an opportunity for our community to innovate and collaborate for the benefit of the industry as a whole. We believe it will set a global standard for a data-first strategy in the shipping industry.”

Baker added that in the future, digital technology will become increasingly pervasive and with the rise in IoT, it will be imperative to analyse all kinds of information to reduce emissions. “Technology will revolutionise the maritime industry and provide it with the insight it so desperately wants,” Baker concluded. “Analytics at this scale has the capability to improve not just the industry, but to make the world less polluted and more prosperous.

“Only by having ubiquitous access to trusted data and removing friction to data silos can the industry move to measuring and managing what matters.”

At the moment the database is in a proof of concept stage after which it will be opened up for further collaboration opportunities.