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Collaboration is the backbone of the modern shipping workplace, says technology consultant at VIKAND

Collaboration at the workplace or workspace today is one of the most vital aspects as it can determine efficiency and productivity. However, collaboration is often misinterpreted as teamwork, but both are very different. Teamwork is when a group of individuals works towards a common goal, but collaboration is when the output is enhanced as a result of all the different sets of skills and mindsets coming together. Collaboration is a much broader aspect of not just achieving success, but enhancing it.

According to Dave Bull, senior technology consultant at VIKAND, the general goal of workplace collaboration is to maximise the chances of success by administering an open, communicative, and collaborative experience among all members of an organisation which, in turn, will maximise the success of a business.

“To enable individual team members to be their most productive within an organisation, they must first have to be content with themselves. A significant portion includes basic physical and mental wellness. This can be a challenge on land and obviously, it can further deteriorate at sea with the added challenges of remoteness, a lack of direct family contact, possibly no access to professional counsellors, and a lack of privacy. This could then compound what would normally be considered a minor issue into a much more complex situation,” explained Bull.

Software company FrontM has partnered with VIKAND to provide a solution that helps seafarers improve their mental health while working at sea. The solution is called VIKAND Direct and acts as an ‘in your pocket’ medical professional or counsellor. The tool is staffed 24/7, 365 days a year and is able to grow to understand the individual, just like a doctor does onshore. The service can be as basic as a ‘hi how are you feeling’ to assisting with a full physical and/or mental wellness program customised to the individual crew member’s needs. The solution has been championed by the collaboration of both Peter Hult and Kiran Venkatesh. 

“The overall goal is to leverage technology to provide medical support at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure any medical or wellness improvements are recognised and addressed, thus preventing any further complications.

“When an individual’s personal wellness is on track then the focus can be around goals, team cohesion, minimal downtime which will recognise an organisation’s full potential and productivity,” says Bull.  

He believes that in the next 10 years, the demands and expectations from end-users for communications onboard ships will change, driving technology providers to deliver the highest quality solutions at competitive pricing. “It forces the providers to cooperate and provide ‘an end-to-end’ seamless solution. Satellite connectivity in the maritime market will not only have to look after the usual passengers and crew bandwidth demands that are both entertainment and welfare-related, but the increasing use of smart apps for just about everything in our lives –including VIKAND Direct will also be a baseline expectation.

“Today, seafarers almost have an acceptance of latency and ‘gaps’ in coverage. This will not be acceptable in the next few years and the minimal expectations for a service will be for it to be at par with what we would get on land/home offices.

“LOE (Low Earth Orbit) satellites have captured the imagination of the world with widely televised launches by companies like SpaceX – if we just look at their success and future proposals, they have filed documents with telecommunications authorities that show it has plans to launch 40,000 small satellites – that is triple the number put into orbit by humans in history thus far. SpaceX already has permission to place 12,000 satellites with a wireless internet service called Starlink. Other key satellite companies include Inmarsat (UK), Iridium Communications (US), Thurava (UAE), Hughes Network Services (US), and KVH Industries (US) who are also pushing forward in partnerships and technology advancements.

“The traditional leaders in satellite companies have recognised these needs and are addressing them. One of the major players is Inmarsat who has announced new services in new places for Global mobility customers in maritime, aviation, government, and enterprise. The communications network is called ORCHESTRA that will bring together existing GEO satellites with LOE and terrestrial 5G into one harmonious single solution.”

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Digital Ship magazine provides the latest information about maritime satellite communications technology, software systems, navigation technology, computer networks, data management and TMSA. It is published ten times a year.


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