It’s a digital world, even at sea

The 2015 Crew Communications Survey has now been published and its findings make for some interesting reading.

InterManager members and their crew took part in this year’s comprehensive industry survey, conducted by research specialist Futurenautics.

The survey demonstrates that improving onboard crew communications doesn’t just enhance the lives of seafarers and benefit recruitment and retention, there is also a solid business argument emerging for it too.

K D Adamson, founder and editor of Futurenautics, explained: “Crew want to speak to or see their loved ones on video as regularly and affordably as possible and the industry has the technology to make that a reality. But, whilst the arguments made for access to crew communications have always centred around the basic right to be in contact with family and a happier, more engaged workforce – and more recently, the provisions of the MLC 2006 – there is another hugely significant dimension for operators.

“Put simply, it’s no longer just a moral or regulatory imperative, but a commercial one.”

She continued: “Crew have quite rightly been vocal about their desire for communications on board and, like any weary parent, ship operators have given in. But what they’re beginning to see is that crew have done them – and the industry – a massive favour. Because, having made the investment in these IP satellite systems, many of these enterprises are now discovering they have access to digital products and services, and methods of digital operation, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“Crew don’t just need to communicate, they need to be able to connect with and interact with increasing amounts of data which is coming not just from the humans around them, but also increasingly the ship and even the cargo itself. Automation and digital interfaces are growing, as are new kinds of relationships with suppliers who may be monitoring equipment in real time from shore, or interacting directly with crew on procurement decisions on e-procurement platforms.”

Here is a taster of some of the findings revealed in the 2015 survey:

  • The proliferation of apps onboard like Whatsapp, which has stormed into the survey this year from nowhere
  • The smartphone has replaced the laptop as the most common device now taken onboard by crew members
  • Seafarers take on average three personal technology/communications devices on board
  • The average price paid by seafarers for telephone calls has fallen from $1.42 per minute to $0.91 per minute
  • The importance of cyber-security and improved cyber-awareness is increasing

K D Adamson said: “That we’re able to conduct a study of this depth and make it freely available to absolutely anyone who has an interest in it is as a result of the individuals and organisations like PTC, InterManager, BIMCO, ISWAN and CrewToo, who continue to collaborate with us. It’s also down to the companies who continue to support the research and its objectives by advertising within the survey report, like Inmarsat, SingTel, KVH and Marlink.”

To read the full 2015 Crew Connectivity Survey see the Futurenautics website or go to the Intermanager Documents Library

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