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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

My Two Days in Marseille!

Recently, I had the fortune of being able to represent Northern Sky Research at a Digital Ship Maritime forum in Marseille. The discussion was lively, all about data applications and technology within the maritime industry, and it was perfect timing, hot on the heels of NSR releasing its Big Data via Satellite report.

This was my second Digital Ship conference, you may remember my post from back in Hamburg, in September, and my first time in Marseille. These conferences are a highlight of my profession, as they allow for excellent networking opportunities, often in interesting locations, and the chance to engage in stimulating conversation and debate, flexing our market muscles and embracing new ideas.

The flight down was incredibly easy, 1 hour down, minimal security, I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to fly nationally. For a while now, all my flights have been international, so I was accustomed to the 3 hour pre-boarding attendance, and the double and triple rounds of security, so to just exit the plane, grab my bags, and walk away, this was stress-free and it felt good.

The event was hosted at a Radisson hotel, which was very convenient, and right on the waterfront. The view was impressive, hundreds of boats as far as I could see, and yet, it reminded me of Toronto, and the Toronto Island Marina. It was interesting to see something which looked familiar but was still new. Also interesting to point out that while typical Europeans do not think in Imperial measurements, modern boats are all measured in feet; saw many 38’ Beneteaux ships and the like.

After making base camp at the hotel, I took a walk through my corner of the city. The walk was mostly uphill, but featured the old fort, port, and waterfront district. Pictures, obviously, say it better.

It was amusing to get all the way to Marseille, only to see a poster advertising trips to Canada

Émile Duclaux Park

St. Jean Fort and Sainte-Marie-Majeure Cathedral Basilica

Look at the size of the ship in the distance, to the left!
Took me some time to actually get to the water. All the areas I pursued at first were closed off. I finally found a beach, and it didn’t take me long to remove my shoes and socks and step in.

This was the Mediterranean, the water of legend, history, myth. I have heard and read so much about different places in the world, but to be there, that was spectacular. It felt great to check it off the list, but also just stop and feel the waves, and know that I was connected to Africa, and other European countries, for the first time.

On the walk back, I had my fair share of cultural interactions, including listening to some street music, seeing people dining on the patio, and being told to get lost by someone not too happy by my lack of a cigarette lighter or understanding of the French language. To be fair, I don’t understand anyone who simply yells their demands at strangers. These things happen, everywhere, and when they do, it’s kind of comforting to be surrounded by “typical” behaviour.

The conference itself was a day full of sessions and speakers, all presenting ideas on how technology can help improve the maritime industry. As I mentioned earlier, I was coming to this session with the knowledge and insights from working on NSR’s Big Data and Maritime reports. While most of my experience was in the satellite communication value chain, it was very interesting to learn more from software developers, shipping companies and application/logistics providers. I took detailed notes, ready to bring insights back to NSR, but I also took part in leading a roundtable discussion and moderating a session of panelists.

The session was interesting, involving a panelist from the cruise industry, one from freight logistics, and one more focused on fleet route optimization. They each had different needs, and different methods for adding value to their sectors. The cruise industry is very different from other sectors as it requires a lot of bandwidth, a large volume of data. While maritime has traditionally been sufficient with little to no connectivity, the cruise industry hosts data-hungry passengers accustomed to, and demanding, “at-home connectivity”. Additionally, other sectors, like shipping, are looking for ways to add value, and reduce costs, to their business, through data applications and satellite connectivity, especially in light of recently decreasing satcom costs.

The event concluded with snacks and drinks, accompanied by live music. I spoke with some software developers and satcom providers about many topics, and then shared an Uber back to the airport.

After a quick flight and an easy drive back from the airport, I was home. My two days in Marseille were short, but beautiful. The weather was everything I had heard it to be, and the view from the small corner of the city I occupied was lovely! It was amazing to see the Mediterranean and more of France! Finally, the Maritime forum was an excellent opportunity for networking, expanding NSR's business, and developing a greater understanding of the issues all along the value chain.

I felt very fortunate to go on this trip, and look forward to more adventures again soon, both professionally and recreational. 

I hope you enjoyed the few pictures. Thank you very much for reading!

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