‘Waves of Change’ is a new book addressing the innovative opportunities for shipping offered by the information technology. This book, launched by the Nautical Institute, is a serious attempt to look ahead and examine the technical, organisational, and environmental issues associated with maritime innovation in the information age. The author Dr John E Robinson argues that traditional maritime culture has been a barrier to innovative progress. The shipping industry, he contends, significantly lags behind in its use of information technology when compared with industries ashore.
There are two consequences, firstly the shipping industry is not able to exploit the benefits of the internet and high speed communications as there is no adequate infrastructure in place, secondly there is little operating experience to capitalise on the opportunities created by wider and faster access to information.
“There is something of a chicken and egg situation” observed Dr Robinson, “because mariners, for example, cannot exploit an advanced system they have not got” On the other hand, “if companies adopted similar strategies to shore based companies, improved satellite services could have been designed for the mutual benefit of the industry. As it is, it may be the mobile satellite technology which will come to revolutionise the way communications are used at sea in future”.