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e-Navigation Underway International Conference 2017

e-Navigation Underway International Conference showcases evolving practices

The annual e-Navigation Underway International Conference took place once again on board the popular DFDS ferry M/S Pearl Seaways sailing from Copenhagen to Oslo and back. This was the seventh Conference, held from 31 January to 2 February, and once again attendance was keen – over 150 delegates from 28 countries, including representatives of 8 organizations, and 11 exhibitors displaying the latest technologies and operational developments in e-navigation.

The full report is available from the IALA website here http://www.iala-aism.org/content/uploads/2017/02/Report-e-Navigation-Underway-International-2017-final.pdf

The Conference focused on e-navigation solutions resulting from testbeds, which are increasing in number and a clear trend is also emerging of better coordination so that individual testbeds can build on each other’s results. In his welcome address, Conference chair Omar Frits Eriksson, who until recently chaired the IALA ENAV Committee (until his appointment as Dean of the World-Wide Academy last September), reminded everybody that e-navigation was an incremental process – as distinct from a project with a fixed end date.

Furthermore, as many presentations also highlighted, its ultimate success depends on the necessary level of worldwide harmonization. Achieving this requires all important stakeholders to be on board, including mariners as end users.

IALA Secretary-General Francis Zachariae expressed the view that Darwinism would prevail. The best e-navigation technologies and practices will be those that “survive”, having emerged as the most effective and practical ones from the many on-going efforts to research, develop and showcase e-navigation solutions for implementation.

However, he stressed that there was an urgent need to focus more on making reliable business cases and industry stakeholders also cried out for international standards, in the interests of predictability and sound economic investment. He warned against a top-down approach and believed that any concept of e-navigation “regulation” was misguided as it missed the point that e-navigation will only work when it is industry-driven and responds to user requirements.

The Conference closed with a set of major conclusions (available from the report) highlighting, inter alia, the need to address cyber security and concerns about autonomous vessels in e-navigation.