Market Sector: Partnership targets world’s most advanced maritime spatial database

The world’s most advanced maritime spatial database – that’s the target of a collaboration between The Baltic Exchange and GeoSpock, a Cambridge-based big data company.

The two sides announced their partnership in August, with Baltic Exchange CEO Mark Jackson saying: “As our market embraces digital technologies, the Baltic is in a unique position to facilitate the industry’s digital growth. To achieve this, it is imperative that we adopt and utilise the most advanced technology and develop the most holistic database available to our industry. 

“The database we are building with GeoSpock will act as a hub of information that can be constantly added to and improved on, but more importantly, interacted with. We believe it will set a global standard for a stronger data strategy in the shipping industry.”

Talking to SMI, Richard Baker, GeoSpock CEO, inevitably pointed out that “in shipping we are battling against an industry which has been slow to change”. However, he said, the new partnership will “set a gold standard for the industry to follow”.

The new data repository will provide a “critical resource” for the vast range of datasets emerging from the industry – starting with a specific focus on global maritime air emissions.

GeoSpock says that by capturing and analysing a vast amount of data, the initiative has the capability to improve the industry and make the world less polluted. A new maritime air emissions data repository will initially focus on dry bulk, liquid bulk and container shipping. By gathering and analysing data on maritime air emissions, The Baltic Exchange could have a meaningful role in how the industry is reducing its carbon footprint, said Mr Baker.

GeoSpock’s relationship with The Baltic Exchange started when the company opened an office in Singapore a year ago. “We started a conversation the Singapore Exchange and hence The Baltic Exchange, and they fundamentally started to look at the broader digitalisation journey,” he said. “The question was: what would it take to build a maritime data hub and effectively get a lot of this data into one central depositary, enabling insights and analytics in the maritime market?”

Shipping generates huge quantities of data – onboard, in port and through the wider logistics chain – but up to now this data has been isolated in its silos, with no central pool, he points out.

Using AIS as a base layer, GeoSpock wants to build up a picture of the total footprint of 20,000 ships – a “reference layer” from which changes (hopefully improvements) can be measured and monitored.

As well as data specific to shipping emissions such as fuel usage, voyage route and journey time, information such as location and weather will be captured. These datasets will allow the industry to make more informed decisions on clean air initiatives, including optimising trading routes. Companies will be able to analyse and optimise shipping on a global scale, while providing regulators and governments with a new level of transparency, say the partners.

The datasets and data science tools are being designed and built by GeoSpock – its GeoSpock Spatial Big Data platform, built on AWS Cloud, will be able to ingest and provide context to huge quantities of global maritime data provided by Baltic Exchange members and industry participants.