Smart port technologies piloted in the UK

Teesport is among the ports involved in the initiative. PHOTO: Teesport

A new programme that aims to pilot ‘smart’ digital initiatives in the UK’s North East ports has been launched, the first initiative of the Situational Awareness Information National Technology Service (SAINTS) recently launched by the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence.

The group aims to use data from satellites and Earth-based sensors, as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, to solve major problems facing businesses, governments and communities. This particular programme will focus on developing systems at the Port of Berwick, Port of Blyth, Port of Sunderland, Teesport and Port of Tyne, to collectively act as a Smart Port North East Testbed.

“Ports play a vital role in the regional and national economy, providing trading gateways to the rest of the world, with a massive impact on local supply chains and communities,” said Catherine Johns, Innovation Director at Business Durham.

“The launch of SAINTS illustrates the important role the region’s fast-growing satellite and space sector can play in finding solutions to local issues and developing them to solve global problems in a sustainable way. The test bed provides an opportunity to pool the knowledge built up in one of our longest established industries with that of one of our newest.”

The digitisation initiative will aim to test scalable, satellite-based smart solutions that will work within a large programme of measures towards achieving four key outcomes for the ports: new business opportunities and hinterland engagement; boosting the growth of green energy and low carbon solutions; improved customer experiences; and operational excellence and security in and around the port.

The test bed will examine technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, unmanned marine vessels, and airborne drones to enable ports to become more ‘intelligent’ and examine ways of speeding up trade, increasing efficiency and reliability, reducing costs, tracking cargo, improving security and protecting the environment.

“Satellites have been providing services for the maritime economy for many years, with advanced technology for navigation and communications the norm in the sector,” said Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult.

“But as international trade continues to grow unabated, this initiative from SAINTS is an exciting new opportunity for UK companies to make significant technological advances for ports, and show what is possible from a combination of satellite data, terrestrial measurements and AI.”

“By developing this collaboration between innovative companies and the ports themselves, the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence offers the hope of long-term business growth in the North East and with it, jobs in a highly skilled and growing sector.”

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About the Author

Rob O'Dwyer
Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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