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Smart shipping needs smarter regulation

Smart shipping needs smarter regulation

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The era of ‘smart shipping’ needs much smarter regulation, supported by greater engagement from the industry to lobby for a favourable operating environment, according to a leading voice in Singapore shipping.

Addressing the ShipServ Smart Procurement conference, Lisa Teo, vice president of the Singapore Shipping Association and executive director of corporate development at Pacific International Lines, told delegates smart regulation should be a mutual aspiration.

“I would like to put some pressure on the regulators both national and international to improve their game to keep pace with the evolution of the smart industry,” said Teo. “The development of regulation needs much greater governmental ownership of risk assessment and cost benefit analysis to avoid unintended consequences and to bring future regulation into effect quickly.”

In outlining ‘The Singapore Vision of Smart Shipping’ Teo noted that planning for the future forces owners to consider how change will alter the way they run their business in the years and decades ahead.

“It also suggests that maybe we aren’t as successful as we would like to think we are at the moment and that we need technological change, and the benefits of lessons learnt from the past eight years, to move the industry onto the next level,” she added.

Teo said that the notion that ships of the future will not need crew are “decades away, if it happens at all” and the pressing need is to attract young people into the industry. Only by working with regulators, investors and customers to realise a state-of-the-art industry can shipping attract the right talent.

“As an industry, we need to engage other stakeholders better – whether it is with the regulators or academia, we should all be working hard to improve the educational aspects of shipping,” she added.

To achieve this, she said the industry needs to show a greater willingness to work with the associations actively engaged in promoting its interests, supporting their national and international associations.

“The industry is supported by these associations, whether regional, national or international, and whilst their members are supportive of the work they do, full engagement is essential if companies are to get the correct operating environment,” she said. “Putting best practice aside, innovation and thought leadership are the names of tomorrow’s game and the industry needs that level of blue sky thinking.”

Futurist and conference chair KD Adamson had also touched on the confluence of new technology and regulation. She described the current situation as “a bureaucratic singularity” with technology development outpacing the IMO’s ability to regulate the industry.

“Cyber security is a foundational requirement for making operational and safety data available to industry stakeholders and this could be the inflection point for IMO, to create the secure cyber environment that a new model could be built on.”

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Neville Smith

Neville Smith is director of maritime PR consultancy Mariner Communications. His fee for this column has been donated to Sailors Society.

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