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If you don’t know what to do, say something

​During the dotcom boom of the early 2000s, it was often said that, faced with a huge tide of technological change, it was arguably better to do something than do nothing and hope for the best.

The creative destruction that followed, with one over-valued venture after another foundering, left many companies wishing they had stayed put rather than gambling on the then still-emerging platform of the internet.

Nearly 20 years later, the same argument is being made, but from much firmer foundations. The new technology revolution – sometimes called business 4.0 – is forcing the shipping industry to consider new ways of working at a pace that is faster, more fundamental more urgent than ever.

With maritime just emerging from a decade of downturn and asset values and earnings on the rise, owners and managers are looking for practical opportunities to embrace the digital economy that can sharpen competitive edge and improve profitability.

Not every new technology will be game-changer for shipping, not every trend is just hype, but being able to choose the tools needed for smarter operations is the challenge that a majority of owners need to address.

The major trends

Despite the emergence of a handful of ‘technology mega-trends’, many owners and managers are only recently adopting the applications that can drive improved productivity and generate the more transparent and accountable operations – and which will put them on the journey to smarter shipping.

Central to these are increased shoreside monitoring and control, whether through machine-to-machine connections of major equipment and systems or with enhanced connectivity to bridge and engine room teams.

Owners are embracing concepts once considered exotic, including CCTV, much higher bandwidth communications and fleet control centres from which they can provide 24-7 support to ships and crews.

Such systems have been available for some years but are beginning to provide the sort of deeper user experience that builds towards smarter operations. Until recently, adoption has been driven primarily by cost saving motivations and have centred on main propulsion and other critical components.

In some cases, fleet managers and superintendents who have sought to embrace big data have found themselves in receipt of more than they can reasonably process and take action on. This has created an opportunity for third party service providers to offer integrated vessel performance solutions – often in partnership with class or OEMs – that can provide optimisation analysis against design and other parameters.

Sailing in new directions

Achieving meaningful vessel performance monitoring relies on three factors; the onboard interaction between vessel and crew, understanding the actual environmental conditions in which the vessel is operating and the customer pressure points on the industry.

The principal pressure point remains access to information for the owner or manager and the ability to share that data in a uniform way with partners and customers, a task that calls for a new approach to data analysis and vessel management.

Shipping companies have practised business intelligence techniques for years but this has tended to be a spreadsheet-driven activity focussed on a handful of key metrics in understanding vessel performance. It is also a process that has tended to come as much out of necessity as design.

When a charterer wants to check whether the owner was in compliance with terms of their charter party based on fuel consumed, or if a shipowner wants to understand whether newbuildings are performing to the contract specification, the data used to be gathered retrospectively if at all.

One reason historically for the lack of a data-driven or real-time monitoring process is the noon report – the standard (though far from standardised) means of providing key data from ship to shore. Often collated manually and produced in different formats for different users, the noon report was ripe for an overhaul and a new life as source of business intelligence.

With shipyards increasingly wiring up newbuildings and equipment manufacturers fitting more and more sensing and monitoring equipment, it has become possible to make the noon report a tool for understanding vessel performance and acting on the data it can provide.

Among the data technologies that are having the greatest impact on shipping are a new generation of weather routing services. Driven by a combination of regulatory and operational demands and pushed along by the growth in satellite bandwidth, operators can now take advantage of high quality, high resolution data on a region by region basis.

For owners and operators, better data and information can feed directly into enhanced fleet and voyage management, whether this is driven by compliance or commercial reasons. Leveraging the cloud to share that data and optimise vessel performance can create the roadmap which leads to smarter shipping.

As a result, there is a tangible growth in interest in use of metocean data for voyage optimisation, from both bigger players with large fleets and smaller ones interested in improving vessel performance.

Another major trend is the increased use of management systems that can combine layers of information to display a complete fleet operation on one dashboard. A superintendent who manages 20-30 vessels can easily integrate weather, tides and currents with other voyage data.

The ability to manage large numbers of ships or even multiple fleets used to be a case of employing as many experienced former mariners as you could find. A decade of cost cutting has done for this strategy, with fewer people running more ships.

For owners embracing fleet management, there are a growing number of platforms that can be used to enhance visibility not just of fleet positions but also regulatory and performance data. Providers have been able to integrate publicly-available position data with information on vessel voyage plan, speed, fuel consumption together with risk and regulated areas on a single screen.

The boom in such systems has depended as much on the ability to use APIs to connect data sources to management platforms as on the ability to collect the data itself. With this standard now a commonplace, operators and managers can take the feeds they need for navigation data, weather, position, security and piracy and regulatory geofencing and see this in real time alongside their vessels’ progress against schedule with key performance indicators.

Adopting fleet management not only allows for a single window into corporate operations but also a means to share data and information with other stakeholders, be that charterer, customer, class, flag or insurer and in real time instead of after the fact.

Communications the enabler

For decades, while shipping was a connected industry, it was a case of think before you dial or click send. Until recently the costs of real time communications have been too high to enable the sort of smart shipping that we hear so much about.

Today, the critical element to all the above technologies and many more beside is not the data, or even the software but the communications platform that enables it. Owners and managers might continue to complain that relative costs are too high, but it should be remembered that in real terms the cost per megabyte of data has never been lower.

Part of the reason for this is the huge addition of capacity to what has traditionally been an undersupplied market. New constellations of high throughput satellite capacity are coming onstream rapidly across the bandwidth spectrum and designed to address the market more accurately than ever before.

It is no longer a case of everyone being obliged to buy the same system from which some will get better value than others. The network operators are finally addressing merchant, cruise, passenger, offshore, fishing and yachting as the distinct markets they have always been.

Communications also works harder than ever before. Hardware solutions from the service providers do not just compress data, they offer built-in services such as email, pre-pay, cyber intrusion prevention, segregated, prioritised networks and much better reporting for fleet managers.

Old, expensive voice lines have been supplanted by voice over IP data channels and the flexibility of data options available from providers reflect the fact that they too are competing hard for the owners’ dollar.

In 2018, shipping finds itself at a confluence of positive trends. An improving supply/demand picture for the most part is mirrored by the availability of new technology that makes it easier to comply with regulation and operate in a more efficient and optimised way.

Certainly challenges remain and some observers continue to believe that shipping will have to contend with large scale disruption to its business and operational models. Whether this proves to be true, there is no reason why operators and managers cannot take steps to make their businesses more efficient and connected.

While to adopt such a strategy requires outlay in terms of time and resources, the alternative business-as-usual scenario creates much bigger risks. Loss of competitive edge cannot always be fixed by cutting costs; retaining it means recognising that customers are looking for greater value from their service providers – shipping included.

By Rashid Baba
a/Chief Commercial Officer

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Digital shipping will mean harnessing communications, technology and data

With a speaker on every conference platform telling us shipping is ripe for technological disruption, the industry is arguably facing its biggest challenge since the invention of the shipping container.

In some ways history is repeating itself. When he first proposed the concept, Malcom Mclean was met with resistance from all quarters but he demonstrated that a simple idea could revolutionise an industry and in the process drive a boom in global trade.

But McLean’s story also contains a warning; that innovation is not a one-off event but a continuous state and that one success does not constitute a trend. Wrong-footed by an era of cheap oil and increasing service speeds, his next venture went bust and later bets on rising oil prices consumed his considerable fortune.

McLean would have needed extraordinary foresight to have got the market right every time, but many of the same issues cloud the ability of today’s shipping leaders to see the future of their business with great clarity.

The key to doing so is not gut feel but data; arguably the element with as much potential to impact an industry as fuel prices or economic growth had in previous decades. But if data is the shipping container of the 21st century, then another major difference between today and the 1950s is another revolution we have come to take for granted: communications.

Mobile, global and able to cross borders at increasing speed, today’s owners can take advantage of proliferating services, higher throughput and lower costs. So transformational is the technology that its limitations now are to some extent, the applications we can devise for it.

So given the need and opportunity for change in shipping, how do owners separate fact from fiction when it comes to the big tech trends: platforms, AI, 3-D printing and the need for new business models. At the same time, what strategies should shipowners, operators and managers adopt to realise the short term benefits onboard and ashore?

Value propositions

In order to benefit from digitalisation, ship owners and operators will need to create sustained value from digitalisation and just adopt what might be seen as a traditional ‘cost management’ approach. But this is far easier to assert in theory than to deliver in practice.

This analysis is not simply a ‘nice to have’ strategy that can be laid across an existing shipping model with the hope that it fits. There are firm reasons to believe that the cyclical model of shipping is itself incapable of competing in the new digital economy.

Certainly some old certainties have been swept away. There is now no limit on shipyard capacity, theoretical or otherwise. The world’s major trading nations include one no international shipping fleet of its own and another which wants to control its own supply chains.

The pressing need to develop better value proposition has some early adopters, companies who have tried to define how value can be constructed from digitalisation and to build a strategy – and not just a set of tactics – around it.

One very traditional shipowner, Torvald Klaveness, decided to try and understand everything its competitors were doing as well as its own assets and share the results with customers. The visibility brought by data and communications enabled it to create a platform that provided full visibility to the most opaque of markets and improve its competitive edge.

Trends to Watch

The biggest tech trends are also probably of most interest in the long term. 3D printing will increasingly find its way into vessel componentry, repairs and spare parts but the milestones to date have been about proof of concept rather than business case. Neither quick nor cheap at present, we will see a continued trickle down of the technology until it is both.

Likewise Artificial Intelligence is a concept whose impact can be interpreted in many different ways. Industrial users are already taking advantage of learning algorithms, automated reporting systems and more risk-based, predictive operations. In the shipping industry, applications that use AI to analyse behaviours in the logistic chain, risk scenarios and enable better planning and contingency measures are planned or already in operation.

Augmented Reality is likely to have an impact on the industry sooner as it combines the practical benefit of better communications with the need to provide support to remote workers who can benefit directly from the input of specialists in tackling complex technical challenges.

What can be said for certain is that shipping is joined the era of the platform. Those already established include the many vessel tracking services, DNV’s Veracity and other class society initiatives as well as the numerous Blockchain partnerships.

Blockchain in particular is one of the most exciting initiatives to have come from the programmer/hacker community, providing a means of securing digital information flow in an industry that is still awash with paper shipping documents. If Blockchain has challenges they are on the one hand its association with crypto-currencies and on the other that the computing power it requires will keep it securely on dry land for the foreseeable future.

Paths to Follow

In terms of how to move forward, the first observation for any CEO or fleet manager is that a digital strategy driven by communications demands security. Just as it is not enough to presume that it won’t happen to you, it is foolish to believe that cyber security is another example of IT hype that can be ignored.

Accepting the assertion that there are two types of companies; the hacked and those that don’t yet know it, means that a digital data strategy must put cyber at its heart and that this starts at C-level and travels all the way to the seafarer.

The number of service providers falling over themselves to offer security audits, certification and applications demonstrates the need to choose wisely but the fact remains, data demands security; it is an enabler on your strategy, not a constraint.

The example of Klaveness in cracking open its fleet operations could certainly be termed Big Data and there are a number of projects that claim this title. As a result, it can be a daunting prospect to try and establish which data a company needs to collect, manage and act on – and why.

For the most part owners and operators have traditionally been focussed on the low hanging fruit – fuel consumption and vessel performance. This reflects both the relative prices prior to 2008 and the fact that without the ability to reduce crew numbers, fuel is the biggest ticket.

Fleet owners and operators now need to think much more broadly about their performance. A decade of low fuel prices will come to an end in 2020 when the global sulfur cap is in effect and carriers will need to understand where value can be gained and savings made.

In addition, the regulatory burden that owners work under is set to become increasingly electronic and data driven. Reporting will increase once the agenda is set for shipping’s strategy on carbon emissions and other environmental regulations.

Not all data is big

The future confluence of regulatory reporting and performance data is something many software vendors have already noticed and are capitalising upon. But the issue of gathering and working successfully with big data is one that continues to pose practical challenges. Classification Society ABS noted some years ago that the data it could collect on vessel performance was more than enough to overwhelm the recipient.

This is in part because managers like to see information presented in uniform ways and also because there is a clear need to focus on the outliers and exceptions.

This enables the owners to concentrate on the issues that need most attention rather than wade through lakes of data in the hope of catching something. The next logical stage of this evolution is condition-based monitoring of hull and machinery, a concept already employed by OEMs and now being extended to the whole ship.

This ‘digital twin’ concept could radically alter the process of ship management and operations, with data streaming to dashboards that enable a more holistic analysis of the vessel’s condition.

But not all data needs to be big to be effective. In 2015 Maersk launched a monitoring programme to track each of its 270,000 refrigerated containers by fitting them with sensors that enabled two-way communication through cellular and satellite networks.

Maersk set up the project for its own needs and used it to monitor the temperature of each box and make adjustments depending on the vessel schedule, as well as track maintenance and schedule repairs.

In the process it saved millions of dollars in cargo claims, despite the data required being comparatively small, relying as it does on a hybrid shipboard network and satellite connectivity. In June 2017, Maersk opened up the programme to shippers and so far 1,000 beneficial cargo owners have signed up, checking their shipments in real-time with the system and increasing supply chain.

Sometimes - as the humble container reminds us - the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

By Rashid Baba
a/Chief Commercial Officer

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Change will come, but not unless we make it happen

Where is shipping today in terms of adopting digital technology? Thuraya's A/CCO Rashid Baba writes there is real value in some basic concepts such as greater automation with better communications, focused on driving efficiency, reducing costs and improving safety. He believes the same infrastructure can be used to drive new business models and better working environments.

This article was first published in the Singapore-based publication, Splash. 

The consensus view on shipping for 2018 is that, even if the markets do not see a rapid improvement this year, then certainly the industry is finally emerging into a period of better supply/demand balance. After a year in which the opportunity for technological change contrasted with a familiar story of poor financial performance, there is a feeling that improvement is somehow inevitable. An increase in the cost of money as the global economy returns to growth could potentially support the investments of long term shipping players and even deter fresh investment from purely speculative players. Some kind of return to the concept of industrial shipping based on relationships and even partnerships over competition could follow.

However this scenario fails to take account of the second factor: the impact of technology and particularly digitalisation on business processes that have enjoyed some insulation from disruption until now. The common narrative of 2017 was that digitalisation offers the best opportunity – if not an imperative – for change in shipping.

The flip side of this argument is that technology disruption presents risks almost as great as those of financial and operational sustainability. We also need to keep its impact in perspective. Digitalisation is not a new phenomenon.

Industrialised economies digitised in a continuous process from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s until the present day. For sure, the pace and depth of technology development have quickened but the industry needs to understand where the value lies for the maritime industry.

Thuraya believes that it exists in some fundamental concepts: greater automation with better communications focussed on driving efficiency, reducing cost and improving safety. Once these concepts are embedded, the same infrastructure can be used to drive new business models and better working relationships.

Maritime markets in perspective

You don’t have to look far to see that a majority of shipping industry practitioners believe that 2018 is going to be a better year for the industry than 2017. This groundswell picked up pace during the second half of the year and reached something of a crescendo with one broker’s claim that the markets held ‘the best opportunity for 30 years’ rather than merely the last 10.

In reality, most sectors have some way to go to shake out lingering problems. A concerted period of ordering restraint has been good for the dry bulk market and Chinese environmental policy has been driving iron ore imports and the freight market along with it. Welcome relief to be sure but whether a recovery so weighted to one nation’s economy is desirable is another question. The buoyant mood will see plenty of volatility in the year to come.

The tanker sector, having seen its recovery washed away by over-ordering of new tonnage is probably neutral overall in 2018. Optimists can construct an upside scenario of growing oil demand and better seaborne exports, lower fleet growth, stock drawdowns and a firm refining market, but the consensus is for no sustained recovery before 2019.

Containership capacity continues to be a major challenge to liner operator profitability, but the tactical response of further consolidation and the continued upsizing of vessel newbuildings is failing to deliver long-term balance sheet improvements. There are bright spots here too, but the mainstay Asia-Europe trades look likely to see challenging trading conditions.

The offshore market meanwhile, is still mired in over-valuation of assets built at premiums that look optimistic against today’s oil price. That price showed improvement as 2017 ended and many will be hoping that OPEC strategy can continue to support the price for longer than short-term political and technical factors.

Technology first or last?

Shipping’s fundamental challenges are not all about the markets. There are big structural issues, not least continued shipyard overcapacity in Asia, the cost of current and future regulatory compliance and the end of the carbon economy.

While some of these threaten to undermine a recovery – notably the willingness of governments to view shipyards as strategic industries requiring financial support – the demands of regulatory compliance could actually support the market by forcing the hands of owners unwilling to invest in upgrades and preferring to remove tonnage from the market.

But despite a reputation for being too traditional and a laggard in adopting new technology, shipping is in some ways proving itself adaptive to change. It has shown a willingness to embrace new concepts such as alternative fuels and is looking at new ship designs and propulsion concepts as well as autonomous vessels.

It has so far had less success with digital technology – in fact it is only just waking up to the potential impact of global connectedness and is some way from feeling the full benefits. But the adjustment is taking place at an increasing pace, not least because attitudes are changing as a generational shift takes place and technology-phobia recedes.

Even so, the reality is that many owners, operators and managers have yet to appreciate how much of a positive difference can be derived from embracing digital technology. This is perhaps because they are yet to be convinced of a proven return on investment, or, if they have understood the opportunity, then how to grasp it is less obvious.

Despite all the talk of disruption and Uberisation, shipping is for the most part still at the data gathering stage. Some leaders began this process sooner and will benefit faster but there are no magic bullets. Even some of the best-known names are working on ways to generate higher levels of efficiency using data, automation and communications to improve their business processes.

Change for good?

The more fundamental question is whether the business models – and with them the mind-set of the industry – can successfully adapt. This requires people, many of whom got their roles in a different era, to engage more and more with concepts that encourage not just communication but collaboration too.

Should the industry fear companies like Amazon as a competitor or embrace them as a customer and partner? Can the veil of secrecy that has protected profit margins for decades be lifted in the cause of better customer relationships?

Owners and operators need to embrace the change, but they are the ones that need to be convinced before they make the investment decisions.

It makes sense to draw some distinctions. For the mostpart, comparisons to the –aeronautical industry are unhelpful, as they don’t reflect the fragmented nature of vessel design, shipbuilding, shipping or port operations.

It remains a fact that this tech landscape is dominated by a handful of players able to command huge swathes of consolidated internet real estate. Shipping is hugely fragmented and very diverse, but it is still highly effective at its core tasks because it was designed for purpose.

There is a small but growing number of owners and managers who have grasped that greater transparency and better connectivity can be a support to their business. This is recognition of the fact that to being a digital business means behaving in a different way from what went before and that to try and solve new problems with old tools cannot be a successful strategy.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the owners who fared best over the last 10 years are the ones that were closest to their operations, that know not just their businesses but their people and assets inside out. For them, data, connectivity and greater integration between ship and shore is the new reality of day to day business.

A new course

2018 is likely to be an interesting year for the maritime industry, perhaps a watershed for those owners who are well-positioned. An improvement in market conditions is a convenient way for the naysayers to suggest that shipping can carry on as before. Even the simplest analysis shows that this will not the case.

In 2001, the beginnings of an unprecedented shipping super-cycle came to the rescue of an industry which had seen millions of dollars of value destroyed in the dotcom boom. Today’s digital technology has moved on a long way since then but one thing is clear, the economic cycle will not by itself be enough to save the market this time. New technology might be the missing link after all.

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Thuraya Gains New Aero Customer Ahead of Singapore Airshow 2018


Satellite M2M, The IoT, And The Public Sector

Accelerating national interests with remote IoT connectivity 

Little did Kevin Ashton know in 1999 that a catchy term he once used in a presentation about tracking technology would captivate the tech world 15 years later. “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to a concept that’s been around for decades, but one that only became a buzzword in 2014 with Google’s acquisition of home device automation company Nest.

While organizations have been using connected devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) networks for a long time, the real potential of the IoT phenomenon has only been explored and universally attested recently. Today, IoT is all the rage and for good reason - there’s no doubt that its implementation is the way forward for developing more efficient, responsive, and reliable systems that gather data, generate insight, and  intuitively take actions in light of those decisions.

With a growing understanding of its wide-scale application and cost-cutting capabilities across vertical markets, the public sector has taken a keen interest in IoT and M2M technologies. After China took the initial step to add IoT to its strategic plans in 2010, governments worldwide have allocated annual budgets for M2M integration in countrywide projects. This year alone, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is reported to have dedicated $8B to IoT infrastructure.

As these technologies grow congruent with daily life, satellite-based IoT is increasingly relevant to the mix. Given that IoT devices are primarily used to eliminate the need for human interface, as well as provide real-time automated monitoring and control across distances, it’s often essential to enable its functioning in remote regions that lie outside the range of terrestrial network coverage.

Furthering Government Prospects & Public Welfare

Satellite connectivity is an absolute necessity in the optimized adoption of M2M technology, especially in the case of government-run projects involving diverse industries and dispersed assets across the country. It enables the collation and exchange of data — in real-time — from many inaccessible points and industrial zones to one central monitoring hub, enabling smart and efficient processes while reducing time, money, and personnel requirements on extensive operations.

Below, we explore how satellite M2M is integral, across the board, to public sector interests:

Safety and Security — One of the top priorities of any government is to ensure the safety and security of the nation and safeguard its borders, territories, population, and resources. IoT solutions like seismic sensors are ideal for use in remote border security and perimeter monitoring by civil defense and military teams. Real-time video surveillance, for example, is an enhanced capability in border protection. Many governmental authorities already have expressed interest in deploying these telemetry solutions for civil defense missions. Additionally, all critical infrastructure requires monitoring, especially in far-off, unmanned areas. Even private organizations working in remote regions, such as oil fields, have to adhere to government protocols for safety, often achieved via satellite-enabled remote asset control terminals.

Harvesting Green Energy — This is big on the to-do list of many environmentally-focused public sector agencies. As natural resources are fast depleting, there is an urgent global call to harness clean energy and develop sustainable practices. Remote connectivity is essential to efficiently monitor solar and wind farms, as well as other renewable energy sources. With a smarter understanding of how inaccessible appliances are working, personnel are better equipped to boost the production of clean energy.

Resource Protection — Government agencies have begun collaborating with satcom partners to use satellite M2M solutions for the smart monitoring of groundwater levels, and to manage and conserve water supplies in order to prevent droughts. In such cases, IoT solutions are ideal for helping to safeguard resources. Satellite M2M services can be used to study weather systems and forecast impending climate changes; monitor regions prone to calamities, like earthquakes and forest fires; and protect endangered habitats, as well as inland and aquatic resources.

Utilities — While utilities are often offered by private companies, they usually still fall under the jurisdiction of government authorities. With the introduction of smart metering and the monitoring of power grids and treatment plants outside areas of mobile coverage, satellite M2M delivers a scalable, efficient solution in high-volume data collection for electricity, gas, and water authorities. Moreover, an IoT solution helps ease the stress of meeting increasing demand for utilities, as consumption and supply are better managed with timely detections in delivery networks — for example, with smart sensors that can swiftly detect water pipe leakages.

Banking — Banking as an industry has been using an early IoT prototype — the ATM — for decades, lending customers access to financial services without having to meet a bank teller. Over the years, these virtual transaction trends have moved towards mobile banking services, and governments now are taking measures to add more efficiency to banking procedures. These steps include setting up real-time video for customer support and surveillance at ‘smart ATMs’; customized offers to smartphones, using beacon technology, when customers enter a bank branch; and POS terminals at establishments that allow customers the convenience of secure credit or debit card transactions from their phones.

IoT services by way of satellite offer many more applications — from smart agriculture, transportation, and fuel management to cargo and personnel tracking. As knowledge and legislation for convergence technologies become pervasive, governments around the world are set to embrace IoT solutions in every relevant industry.

Creating Benefits That Outweigh Risks

While most agree on the benefits of IoT, there are no doubt technological, regulatory, and other dilemmas associated with its implementation. That said, public authorities generally are open to new tech solutions, as long as they don’t compromise on information data security. As we rush towards an ever more connected future, the danger of hacking looms larger. Moreover, increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), while spectacular in its capabilities, comes with its own problems — a reduction in human factor with such technologies implies that system errors are harder to find, stop, and fix.

These examples pose an ongoing challenge for IoT service providers: to develop highly resilient IoT platforms with advanced encryption, as well as early warning and predictive systems. It’s our responsibility to not only develop intuitive capabilities for data exchange and monitoring, but also for elaborate protection and data leak detection. Another important factor when dealing with users from the government sector is timeliness; authorities are constantly bombarded with services and solutions and have rigid roadmaps and procurement plans.

As service providers, we need to distinguish ourselves not just with our product portfolios, but by having a superior understanding of the public sector’s operational needs and purchase cycles. It’s vital to know when to approach public agencies with a sale, and to be ready for how long the integration process may take in order to be recognized as a preferred partner for smart government needs, emphasizing solutions and not just products.

Connectivity In The Near Future

Despite the aforementioned hurdles, governments usually include IoT in their annual plans in some form or shape. Currently, the percentage spent is rather negligible in terms of overall budgets; private sector undertakings in the same vein are certainly moving at a more rigorous pace in comparison, and the public domain has a lot of catching up to do.

However, with the rising trend in smart urban spaces and smart cities, there is a surge in joint IoT initiatives as public and private entities work together on shared goals for their locale. The Asia-Pacific nations take a lead here — as Amy Kean of Mindshare Asia Pacific recently mentioned, this region is most eager to adapt to a connected future. Satellite service providers likewise have a lot more to tap into when it comes to IoT offerings; the future is rife with possibilities to further develop resilient IoT platforms with AI, data mining, and big data capabilities, which will be especially beneficial for governments.

About the Author

As Thuraya’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jassem Nasser leads the strategy and business development division, which includes Corporate Strategy, M&A, and investigating new ventures outside the company’s core MSS business. Jassem also manages Thuraya’s Corporate Affairs, including Regulatory and Spectrum Management & Development. Jassem has over 16 years of experience in the satellite industry, including roles providing strategic direction and overseeing spectrum and frequency management. He has been involved in setting up and managing a start-up satellite organization and guiding the company through its various stages of development by devising strategic direction and priorities, identifying and selection strategic options. Jassem earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications Engineering with first class honors from Khalifa University (UAE).

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Thuraya and Wildlife Photography

Supporting Middle Eastern Photographers on Expedition in Maasai Mara

A lone cheetah chases a wildebeest herd, poised to pounce on its chosen prey. That raw moment is snapped and shared almost instantly across the world, right from the heart of Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve.

Thanks to Emirati photographer Majed Al Katheeri and his team’s work in the wild, we at Thuraya get to showcase that rare capture on our social feeds.

On August 10, 2017, a  team of 7 photographers flew from Dubai to Kenya, ready to tough it out for a week in a wildlife sanctuary. As the trip was supported by Thuraya, the team - in addition to cameras - took along our satcom devices, which assured constant connectivity throughout their journey and gave them the ability to reach a global audience from a remote location.

Ahead of the trip, Al Katheeri notified followers with this Instagram post: “Tonight, a group of photographers start their Safari journey, to Maasai Mara in Kenya to photograph wildlife and witness one of the greatest wonders on the planet, The Great (wildebeest) Migration.”

Equipped with Thuraya’s IP+ broadband terminal, the photographers were able to get a steady connection amidst the savannah wilderness and share their rich, diverse safari experience along with its unique rhythms and stories. After hours spent camouflaging lenses to gain stunning dawn-to-dusk insight and visuals from the secret lives of zebras, giraffes, lions, leopards and more, the team - as Al Katheeri says - “invite friends and family to join in on appreciating the beauty of Africa.”

Thanks to the remote data access, we at home could truly envision and partake in Al Katheeris’ own moments from the reserve like this one: “A female leopard rests in a large fig tree in Maasai Mara. She was on top of a large bird nest, which seemed to annoy the bird who kept flying around, but the leopard couldn’t care less.”

Al Katheeri’s team included participants from other GCC countries and Jordan, namely Mohammed AlNaser, Abdulaziz AlAsousi, Husain AlFraid, Khalid Ebrahim, Mohammed Almoumni, and Ahmed AlMoumni. We at Thuraya are proud to have been a part of the Maasai Mara expedition and commend the team’s dedication and creativity in completing the project!

A trusted satcom partner for industries and individuals worldwide, Thuraya has years of experience in delivering communication over land, sea and air via a strong satellite network. Catering to diverse and customized needs, we offer satellite handsets and data terminals with advanced navigational capabilities that are compact, portable, affordable and promise uninterrupted coverage around two thirds of the globe. As a homegrown company, Thuraya is particularly keen to support UAE endeavors, and regularly invites opportunities to facilitate Emirati traditions in outdoor activities and wildlife explorations.

Learn more about how Thuraya supports outdoor enthusiasts and vacationers here.

To find out how our products can be useful for you, contact:

Thuraya Customer Care

From Thuraya network: 100
From other networks: +88216 100 100
Fax: +971 6 8828444



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Covering New Ground with Thuraya IP M2M

When there’s a need for innovation, Thuraya always rises to the challenge to meet it. A case in point - the recent launch of Thuraya IP M2M!

Our latest service is a robust M2M solution, designed to meet the market demand for IoT connectivity in remote locations that lie beyond-line-of-sight and outside the range of terrestrial networks. IP M2M supports high volume, high throughput machine-to-machine (M2M) applications and provides reliable, cost-friendly connectivity for operations that depend on the measurement and collection of large data amounts from inaccessible points and industrial zones.

As the service enables easy remote monitoring access, it lends exciting new possibilities to a number of sectors including oil and gas, utilities, government, banking, and renewable energy.

Here are a few IP M2M features that end-users can benefit from:

Easy Set Up
The service installation is relatively simple, given its high-end capabilities: IP M2M consists of a Thuraya IP+ terminal managed from the backend by a top-class Remote Terminal Management (RTM) platform, and is powered by Thuraya’s IP network with data speeds of up to 444 Kbps.

User Control Flexibility
The platform enables service optimization with an array of device and connectivity management features, including usage monitoring, connection control, firewall management, geo-fencing, usage traffic graphs and charts. Operators can view a terminal’s position, signal strength and current status, and can also reboot and configure the system remotely.

Diverse Applications, Multiple Industries
With IP M2M, Thuraya can deliver an extended range of solutions, including video- and image capturing for surveillance and security; real-time applications for oil and gas, smart-grid Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) recloser connectivity, environmental and water monitoring, and wind and solar farm monitoring.

Increasing Green Energy Efficiency
Specifically designed for swift connectivity between remote equipment, IP M2M accelerates the efficiency of operations in renewable energy production. The service empowers users with a smarter understanding of how appliances are working, enabling them to make faster decisions to boost the capacity of clean energy harvesting technology.

Enhances Future Possibilities
Thuraya’s new IP M2M service is our gateway into new market segments and enables us to further enhance our recent solutions for rural IoT, smart agriculture, smart metering, and cargo and shipping. To quote our CEO, Ahmed Ali Al Shamsi, “The Thuraya IP M2M service is one of the key components of our exciting FUTURA capability plans, and positions us well to effectively address the market requirements.”

Get more information on IP M2M here. | Learn more about Thuraya’s M2M technologies here.

To request a demo or find out how IP M2M can be useful for you, contact:

Thuraya Customer Care
From Thuraya network: 100
From other networks: +88216 100 100
Fax: +971 6 8828444


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Taking mission-critical satellite communications to the next level

Market Development Director, Fahad Kahoor shares valuable insights into Thuraya's suite of GovernmentComms products and solutions, which provide critical communications in the field. He calls attention to the special features of  CRYPTTIA, a unique command and control platform that allows smartphone users to utilize a unified Thuraya and cellular network for crisis management, defense and civil protection operations. 

You have recently opened an office in the US. Was that move to facilitate work on your ongoing FUTURA project and next generation constellation plans? 
Thuraya is already well established in the United States. We have a team supported by service providers and partners. In 2016, we launched M2M services in the USA with the introduction of the Thuraya FT2225 M2M terminal.

The new office located centrally between Washington D.C. and Tysons Corner, Virginia, offers close proximity to investors, key government and commercial customers and partners. It further brings the American team together, helping to serve these customers including the Department of Defense, which Thuraya counts among its list of longest standing customers. 

The new address marks a further step in the development of our ongoing FUTURA project and next generation constellation plans. 

Thuraya Headquarters in Dubai

Recently Thuraya and Indosat Ooredoo signed a Memorandum of Understanding. What are the objectives?
The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to develop a new range of services by combining Indosat products with Thuraya Satellite technology and devices for business customers in Indonesia.

The agreement has created a framework for collaboration in three main areas. New services will be developed using Indosat SIM cards roaming on the Thuraya network as well as bundling satellite devices with Indosat Ooredoo digital applications. At a later stage, Thuraya and Indosat also plan to develop additional use cases for the burgeoning IoT market.

The satellite-powered business applications allow organizations to extend their services beyond terrestrial networks, whenever they have remote connectivity requirements across various extreme environmental conditions. The full scope of markets now set for transformational communications capabilities across Indonesia includes oil and gas, and mining; plantations; high end yachting, merchants and fishing; military and police services. Thuraya’s extensive and reliable satellite network complements Indosat’s own connectivity, extending into those areas that are beyond terrestrial reach. This will enable both companies to offer a seamless customer experience. 

Thuraya's Connected Ambulance

Does Thuraya's 'Connected Ambulance' have any military applications?
The connected ambulance is an integrated telemedicine solution with a Thuraya IP Voyager terminal. It works over Thuraya’s extensive and reliable network, connecting onboard wired and wireless medical devices to hospitals and diagnosing physicians. It doesn’t have any military applications; however, it can be utilized by the military during critical missions, when personnel are injured and time is a matter of life and death.

What are Thuraya's latest applications for the defense sector?
Taking center stage is CRYPTTIA, a unique command and control platform developed by EYEONIX SA.

CRYPTTIA allows smartphone users to utilize a unified Thuraya and cellular networks for mission critical, crisis management, defense and civil protection operations. CRYPTTIA is a global platform combining both terrestrial and satellite voice technologies to bring push to talk services to smartphone users. 


CRYPTTIA is an IP-based end to end solution which offers “bring your own device” (BYOD) capability for fast and reliable communications in mission critical environments. It offers speed of deployment and ease of use. It is the only platform that can be fully operational, from scratch, in less than four hours as a mission critical unified system. 

The portable version, which is deployable in less than five minutes, serves as a fully operational command, control and decision support system. It requires less than one day to train mobile users, command and control center training is completed in three days, and administrator training takes five days.

NATO security-certified, CRYPTTIA guarantees optimal security for both call and data exchange, and is used for high level, top secret military intelligence and counter espionage. 
Agents are untraceable in the field, because of the unique task and incident management module, which can be automated and preconfigured, to coordinate a mission or an emergency automatically. 

CRYPTTIA is a speechless system: command center executives receive updates and task completion data through a configurable, color coded status level system. It can send and receive live images, and store and forward videos. When voice or text exchange is required, push to talk (PTT) voice and short message service communications for group and private users are always to hand.

Certified by Thuraya for added value system security and compliance, CRYPTTIA is a cost efficient solution that operates at a fraction of the cost of competing solutions.

With Application Interface (API) or Interface Control Document (ICD), CRYPTTIA can integrate third party networks (TETRA, DMR, UHF); platforms (command centers or surveillance systems); and unmanned platforms (UAVs, sUAVs and drones). CRYPTTIA delivers geolocation, tracking, and geofencing.

By upgrading their field smartphones, users can future proof their systems. Additional features include near field communication, man down alarm and lone fighter. For secure communication for highest level, mission critical use, CRYPTTIA offers end to end encryption through four layers of communication security. 

For more info on CRYPTTIA, please click here

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Thuraya partners with third-party suppliers of M2M- and SCADA-based services to provide superior IoT and telemetry solutions suited for our Government, Military, Energy, Enterprise and Relief customers. Connected to Thuraya’s IP broadband terminals and operable via our extensive L-band satellite network, the solutions use multi-processor architecture for swift and efficient tracking and monitoring, and critical data transfer from several assets in remote locations to one central hub.

Thuraya’s telemetry solutions provide round-the-clock monitoring in areas that do not have fixed infrastructure or may have ongoing work that is unattended. These applications are ideal for setting up wireless peripheries and stealth detection at borders or protected zones, as the sensors can identify ground vibrations and instantly notify HQ of any intrusion. Advanced algorithms also measure these vibrations to further notify the end-user of who or what has crossed the pre-defined border - people, animals or vehicles - and at what point.

To view our M2M product portfolio, please .