Having heard horror stories about the preparedness of the Heathrow airport to handle huge passenger traffic, I moved towards the immigration officer with trepidation.No doubt, the lady officer behind the immigration counter was curt and wanted to clear me quickly, but she had to fully satisfy herself that the finger-print matching was done properly. These days, with the clock ticking away fast for the opening ceremony on July 27, nothing can be left to chance if you are entering London.Past immigration, getting the media accreditation card was also not a problem at all. It really came as a surprise how all this was happening so smoothly as athletes had complained they had to face long waits.But the bigger surprise was how the transportation by tube, or the Heathrow Express, into Paddington in central London was even more efficient. The fear of getting lost by official cabs was not there and in less than half an hour, five Indian mediapersons were in central London. The surprise did not end there as shared cabs were there for onward travel from central London to Stratford, where the Olympic Park is situated.Cabbies the world over like to talk. Mike, as the 64-year-old wanted to be called, was no different. Once he got talking, it was hard to stop him.He spoke of everything — recession, high prices of tickets for the London Olympics, how Stratford was a dirty area and now had been transformed.But his anger was aimed towards the London organisers (LOCOG) as he felt the tickets were overpriced. “It’s just too much paying 150 pounds per ticket for athletics and I have been told I will be allowed inside the arena for just three hours. Imagine, I spend 1,000 pounds for the family and it seems like a waste,” Mike thundered.advertisementThe mood all over London, where the pound sterling is such a strong currency, is similar. The commoner does feel tickets have been overpriced and of the million tickets up for sale, many have disappeared!That’s a story very similar to our own Commonwealth Games, where the organising committee first printed lesser number of tickets, which resulted in empty stands.Our cabbie Mike then went on to thank us for bringing sunny weather to London. After heavy showers for weeks, bright sunshine saw Londoners strip their woolens and dress lightly. He was again cautious when he said, “Don’t be fooled, one can never say when it will again start raining.”Finally, when I reached Stratford, the virtual Olympic hub in east London, I got a glimpse of the Olympic Stadium. Security was tight and like the Delhi cops, they were shooing us away from vantage points, minus the abuses.Stratford in itself is a sleepy suburb. A new shopping complex and plenty of commercial malls have come up in a big way, but the crowds aren’t huge really. Locals who live closer to the Olympic venues aren’t the ones who will be filling in the arenas as tickets are priced high and had to be booked in advance.Inside the high security Olympic Stadium complex, which also houses the international broadcast centre and the main press centre, the final coat of paint is being applied. There is a busy look and security is very tight. From wallets to cell phones, cameras and even wrist watches, everything is put through the scanner.Yes, the security personnel are courteous, but they do look worried as the crowds have started trooping in. Food outlets are getting ready and junk food stalls are bound to do good business.However, the worrying factor is a high price one has to pay for communication. Unlike New Delhi’s Commonwealth Games, where the data cards were free, here there’s a 180 pound sterling charge, which comes to almost Rs 16,000 for the entire fortnight.If you want to extend your stay for the Paralympics, it costs a bigger bomb. Welcome to London!
Becoming “smart” in the shipping industry has been a hot topic over the recent period as the rise of technology promises to unlock numerous benefits, ranging from cost cutting to improved productivity and effectiveness.Smart containers, smart ships, smart ports are the buzzwords being repeated on a daily basis. But the question is: how to make a smart decision when choosing the right technological solution for one’s fleet or business operation?To help answer that question, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has issued Guidance Notes on Smart Function Implementation to help owners use technology to achieve their operational targets.Smart technology is aimed at helping collect, process, and perform advanced data analytics, in order to allow the people using that technology to make more informed decisions.Image Courtesy: ABSCommenting on the launching of the guidance, Derek Novak, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Technology, ABS, told World Maritime News that the key goal was to recognize “that the industry is embarking on a journey towards smart functionality, with more smart equipment and systems being installed on vessels every day.”The drivers from the industry that prompted drafting of the notes are twofold, according to Novak.“Owners and operators want guidance to enable them to truly take advantage of the technology on their vessels to improve operational performance, asset maintenance, or to have a less intrusive class experience. The driver from the equipment manufacturers, who are putting their products on board the vessels, is that they want recognition from class that allows for owners and operators to easily realize the benefits of the technology that they have placed on their assets,” he said.“If you are building ships or buying modern second-hand tonnage, then ABS can look at what you have on board and help you take advantage of that equipment. A big part of that is being able to adopt technology and have confidence in what it can do for you. It’s not expensive, certainly not to get started and this kind of technology is increasingly going to be found on ships coming out of yard as standard equipment.”Hence, smart functionality is not intended only for the big players. According to Novak, it’s more about the mindset of taking the technology you may already have and work out how to make that technology fit your goals.Main Concerns of Owners and OperatorsFor some owners, the use of new technology can be overwhelming and they don’t know where to get started, Novak continues.“We have seen a spectrum within the industry and there are many owners who are interested in using technology to their advantage and are trying to figure out how to get smart functions on board.“The process to implement these technologies needs to be flexible to allow for further advances, but to get the process started we suggest that the owners have a specific goal in mind, for example to improve operational efficiency, to make surveys less intrusive, or to improve performance of the asset overall.“We work with owners through a process one step at a time to leverage the technology; that’s our unique approach. What we provide is a well-designed framework that will let them set and achieve their goals.The idea of the guidance is to take owners to a place where they can leverage technology today to meet the defined goals of their businessIn addition to setting the goal you want to achieve and choosing the right equipment to do so, there are potential downsides to improper implementation of the technology. Basically, there is a risk that an owner will not get the benefit out of the technology they have bought.“It can happen, especially where systems are very complex. The main reason why we see this issue is companies not understanding what they want the technology to do for them; they do not have a goal in place. As we’ve said, just paying for technology is not going to help, when what they really need is a plan.“Nobody puts digital technology on a ship just because it’s interesting; we’re not in an environment where owners have that luxury. If one buys equipment with state-of-the-art technology they should expect to have it work in their favor. For us it’s a process of helping owners to set a goal, to use the technology to achieve that specific goal.”Is the Industry Ready to Embrace Smart Shipping?Novak believes that a considerable portion of the industry is ready to embrace smart shipping and for some straightforward reasons.“We are living in an era of increasingly demanding regulation and that is driving the collection and reporting of data that has a ‘smart’ element. Secondly, the industry increasingly understands how to use technology to find value and benefit to their operations, so they are moving in the right direction,” he pointed out.Over time, as the benefits of the technology become embedded, Novak believes flag states and regulators may recognize that having this information available could provide some equivalency to the way that requirements are being fulfilled now.“There will be early adopters who get in there first and pick up the opportunity more rapidly but in the long-term, smart functionality is a philosophy the industry will squarely get behind,” he added.As explained, smart functionality is part of the industry’s journey to autonomy.“Years ago most vessels were pretty basic in terms of data technology and humans made a majority of the decisions,” he said.“Now we’re at the stage of collecting and analyzing data so that humans can make better decisions: that’s ‘smart’. If you look at the world we are heading towards, the next step is semi-autonomous where the machines can take decisions with humans providing oversight and intervention.”The last step is full autonomy, and for that, “we are going to need a lot more information about operations and maintenance,” according to Novak.“To get down that path, you really need to take that step fully into smart before you can truly go towards autonomy.”Can BigData Live Up to the Hype Seen Over the Recent Period?“For us, avoiding the hype and gaining the benefit of big data is all about focusing on what you need to know. You can collect data from many different locations but it’s the value it provides and the information it delivers that contributes to better decisions,” Novak said.“If you don’t understand why you’re looking into operational data then yes, it could be a lot of hype. If you want certain questions answered and you want data to help you with those goals, that’s when big data can be a huge asset.“Let’s not forget we are in the era of IMO 2020 and looking ahead to the IMO’s requirements for carbon emissions reductions after 2030 and 2050. We are going to need to collect and analyse a lot of data – much more than we have now – on vessel operations if we are going to be able to meet a challenge on that scale.”Interview by Jasmina Ovcina Mandra
The Dragons were soundly beaten by Widnes in their first game of the season and now host a Saints side that got their season off to a flyer against Castleford.“I went over to Widnes and watched their game,” he said. “It was a tough first hit out. I’m sure they will be ready to go this week. No one wants to start off a season like that and I’m sure those boys will be ready. It will be a tough game for us.“It can be hostile for away teams going there; I know confidence is high in the group over there too when they play at home.“We have to worry about ourselves, preparing well and doing what we can to come away with the victory.”He continued: “We went in and out in a day last year and got the win towards the end of the game. It can be tough to do that, but it is a mental thing. We can’t dwell on it and make excuses.“We will be tuned in to get there, get the job done and come home.”Tickets for seven of Saints’ Betfred Super League fixtures are now on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455052 or online here.For details, click here.