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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

SMM Hamburg

In early September, I had the privilege to travel to Hamburg, Germany, to moderate a panel on maritime satcom connectivity. While I was there, I made a quick tour of the city, the main conference hall, and here is a recap of my adventures!

One of the more exciting aspects of my job involves conferences, panels, meeting people and sharing ideas. The SMM Trade Fair is a very large convention bringing together everyone involved in the maritime business. With over 2,100 exhibitors and an estimated 50,000 visitors over the course of the week, there was a lot to see!

For NSR's maritime report, I helped evaluate the global maritime satellite communications market and forecast the changes to take place over the next ten years. This involves looking at the global capacity (how much is available via satellites), the demand, and segmenting it by frequency band and segment of the maritime market. There's a lot of information to go through, and plenty of technological and economic trends to analyse in order to understand how the market will develop.

I was invited to moderate a panel at Digital Ship's Connectivity Briefing. Digital Ship is a world leader of maritime IT news and their panels bring together key players in the industry. My panel, entitled, "Innovation and Evolution and the Integration of Maritime Applications" looked at the rising demand for maritime satcom data and applications suited for the industry. You can find my analysis of the panel on NSR's website, but for those less familiar with the satcom business, I'll continue here as well.

The main point taken away from the panel was that the merchant maritime market may not be completely ready to evolve and integrate "innovative" applications. The maritime industry tends to rely on tradition and not change unless economics or regulation demands it. So, while many other industries (airlines, even passenger vessels) are enthused and ready to take on more data and adopt novel applications, the merchant segment remains unconvinced.

Merchant ships use a variety of sensors and equipment for ship operations, but rarely does it seem they need more data than they currently have. Some ship operators were saying their ships could handle data rates less than 96 kbps, and some reports claim ships rarely go over 10 GB of data in a month. With that in mind, merchant operators are not interested in more data, but smart data.

The merchant industry has been hit hard in recent years due to global oil pricing and other pressures, so cutting costs is of paramount importance. Satellite service providers have begun to leap at this opportunity, offering applications which can help improve operational efficiency aboard ship, but there is still a significant cost to entry and many merchant fleets are content to leave things alone rather than adopt new applications and services. 

These results are not entirely surprising, and they're not entirely universal, as many fleets have adopted smart applications and demonstrated significant cost savings, but these results were the general impression from the panel.

The panel was an excellent chance to gain fresh, insightful perspectives from the industry and meet people who knew more about the inner workings. My first time as moderator went well and everyone said the experience was very useful and interesting.

Aside from the panel, I took the time to explore the convention and the city of Hamburg. The convention was very large and even featured a shuttle bringing people from one side to the other, something I wished I had learned about a little earlier in the day. (My feet were so sore by the end of the day!)

The city of Hamburg is quite nice, with a thriving downtown core, and a beautiful lakeside area. Thanks to my Microsoft Band 2, I was able to capture my route, and I ended up walking over 5 km!

My first thought on seeing this store was, "How will I know when I can go in and buy stuff?"

Just before the convention centre, there was this nice, little park

Can you see the Moon in this picture?

New blue suit!

And there you have it! I enjoyed my time in Hamburg and I would definitely go back. The convention was very interesting and useful and I plan to participate in more panels in the future. For those wondering, I did indeed eat a hamburger while I was there, and it was delicious!

Thanks for reading and following along on my adventures, looking forward to updating you again soon!

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