IoT ‘could promote crew wellness and decrease accidents’

Ship connectivity. Credit: Getty Images

Onboard connectivity to the Internet of Things (IoT) could promote improved maritime safety through crew health and wellness, according to a manufacturer of such solutions.

“Spending more on IoT connectivity will save costs elsewhere,” claimed Elizabeth Jackson, CMO and senior vice president for strategy at KVH Industries. Speaking during a webinar organized by KVH, Jackson explained that the main advantages that increased IoT could provide for crew were in the areas of safety and compliance, “Crew today are considered an operating expense and, even before the coronavirus pandemic, statistics showed that 20% of vessels this year were diverted due to illness, incurring considerable costs.”

The connected ship market is expected to double over the next decade and trends towards shipboard automation may also increase. While many in the maritime industry have focused on the implications of automation in terms of reductions in crew numbers, Jackson said KVH believed the future focus will be on the wellness of crew.

“Imagine a world where crewing performance is optimized like [the performance of] competitive athletes,” said Jackson. She put forward the example of a crewing management company that is trialing a health-tracking system to monitor vital information around crew heart rate and sleep patterns. It is hoped this IoT-enabled information will help manage fatigue, and in turn, accidents.

IoT allows businesses, in this case the maritime industry to observe data and monitor it, then compare vessel and crew performance, then implement machine learning to watch for errors and send notifications when a problem arises. Jackson explained that the real value of IoT optimization came when ship mangers were able to act on the information gathered to fix any issues remotely and, in the longer term, optimize for true efficiency.

The present national lockdowns being experienced by a quarter of the world’ population due to the coronavirus pandemic showed that “the benefits of IoT are even more critical, as we are all working remotely” Jackson explained. “Each of us can now better understand the connectivity need of seafarers.”

To listen to the entire webinar, click here.